September 2003: Christian Ecology Link: A Daily Prayer Guide for the Care of Creation
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September 2003

         "Away with the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

(Amos 5.23-4)

"All of Creation God gives humankind to use. If this privilege is misused, God's justice permits Creation to punish humanity."

(Hildegarde of Bingen)

"Truth forever on the scaffold,
Wrong forever on the throne.
Yet that scaffold sways the future,
And behind the dim unknown
Standeth God behind the shadows,
Keeping watch above His own."

(James Russell Lowell)

Monday 1st September

In an inquest on the death in Iraq of Sgt. Chris Muir while making unexploded cluster bombs safe, the Oxford coroner said:
    "It is unacceptable that 30% of these bomblets fail to detonate, falling in areas where the local population are not likely to understand the dangers. I propose to use my powers to report to the Ministry of Defence and urge them to investigate devices which do not fail 30% of the time, or to use different devices altogether."
Pray that this event will lead to a total ban on these barbaric weapons.

Tuesday 2nd September

According to the latest UN Human Development Report, the gap between rich and poor is still widening. The richest 1% of the world's population enjoy a total income equal to 57% of the rest of the world. The Report recommends:
  • Removal of trade barriers
  • Dismantling of lavish subsidy regimes
  • Giving deeper debt relief
  • Doubling Western aid from 31 billion to 62 billion a year so as to provide investment in health, education, clean water and rural roads.

Wednesday 3rd September

In one week's time world governments will assemble at Cancun, Mexico, for the WTO's ministerial meeting.

On the agenda is a drive to expand the WTO's powers so as to allow corporations to invest anywhere in the world without any control by national governments.

Most governments of developing countries and most citizens everywhere oppose these new powers, yet the UK Government and the CBI have been lobbying hard for a new WTO agreement.

For more information write to WDM at 25 Beehive Place, London SW9 7QR or ring 020 7737 6215 or visit

Thursday 4th September

A reform of the Common Agricultural Policy, announced in June, means that farm subsidies will be based more on the area farmed than on their output, but the total spent on subsidies is to be much the same, while key sectors, such as sugar, remain unchanged, much to the detriment of sugar farmers in developing countries.

WDM director Barry Coates comments:
    "Subsidies aren't necessarily all bad, but this proposal shifts only a small part of the CAP budget towards objectives such as environmental protection and animal welfare. Instead, much of the cash is simply intended to compensate farmers for cuts in internal EU prices. This will not have a big impact on over-production in Europe, which means more of the same old problems for poor farmers in developing countries."

Friday 5th September

Government purchases of goods and services account for between 10% and 15% of global income, and governments often use their purchasing power to support young and growing industries. Yet there is pressure from corporations (including the CBI) to restrict these governmental powers, regardless of the contribution they can make to developing local industries. If they get their way, there will be a big expansion in the bargaining power of transnational companies over fledgling domestic businesses.

Saturday 6th September

IMF loan conditions often include extensive privatisation of services and opening up of markets to big business. Zambia has this year been facing famine, yet the IMF threatened to block 650 million of debt relief after the Government refused to privatise the Zambia National Commercial Bank. President Mwanawasa said of the IMF privatisation programme: "There has been no significant benefit to the country . . . Privatisation has contributed to high levels of poverty, loss of employment and asset stripping." But Mark Ellyne of IMF said: "If they don't sell, they won't get the money."

Sunday 7th September

Our Father, we ask your guidance and wisdom in learning to discern your will. Help us not to lose hope when overwhelmed by the enormity of poverty, hunger and oppression in your world. Give us the courage to work towards your justice wherever we live, so that your kingdom on earth may become a reality.

(Lesley Anderson)

Monday 8th September

The Indonesian Government has declared martial law in the oil-rich but rebellious province of Aceh. UK arms sales to Indonesia rose from 2 million in 2000 to nearly 41 million in 2002, when the equipment supplied included rocket launchers, tanks and armoured personnel carriers. Tomorrow sees the opening in London of the MOD-sponsored Defence Systems and Equipment International Show, one of the largest arms fairs in the world. The campaign group "Disarm DSEI" is co-ordinating a week of action. For details call 0781 765229 or visit

Tuesday 9th September

Despite well-documented evidence that irradiated foods may not be safe for human consumption - effects include the destruction of vitamins and the formation of chemicals linked to cancer and birth defects - the WTO Codex Alimentarius Commission (which sets food standards for 168 nations) has ruled that any food may be irradiated at any dose, regardless of strength. Ten countries objected, including Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico and Spain, but were overruled. National food irradiation laws that are stricter than the new Codex standard can now be challenged and overruled. Andrea Peart of Canada's Sierra Club comments: "This is the final straw in the reckless use of irradiation, which is still experimental, to solve complicated food safety problems. It is a severe blow against the rights of nations to establish their own food safety laws. It is undemocratic on its face."

Wednesday 10th September

The Asian Development Bank is funding a privatisation programme in the Philippines which includes the Filipino water service MWSS. Last June over 10,000 protesters occupied the Bank's office in Manila. A spokesman for the protesters said: "MWSS is a classic case of a badly-designed privatisation programme. The aim appears to be the creation of opportunities for foreign water companies rather than ensuring affordable and quality services for all."

Thursday 11th September

The French cabinet has approved a new amendment to the country's constitution which places increased emphasis on protection of the environment. Among the articles proposed is one stating that everyone has the right to live in a balanced and healthy environment, that humans have a duty to preserve and improve the natural world and that people who harm the environment should pay damages. The precautionary principle is affirmed, whereby officials should halt practices that are not proved to be safe.

Friday 12th September

The World Bank has estimated that, at the present rate of logging, all the lowland forest in Sumatra and Borneo will be destroyed by 2020. Although it has been illegal to export Indonesian logs since October 2001, the trade continues. An investigation by FoE reveals that Tesco is still selling garden furniture from illegally-sourced Indonesian timber. For details visit

Saturday 13th September

Trees of Time and Place (ToTap) is a project devoted to encouraging tree-planting, seed-gathering by schools (as part of the national curriculum) and reclaiming derelict land by local communities. The Tree Life Centre in Bristol is a nursery developed from derelict allotments and an old kitchen garden, giving people with learning difficulties or mental health problems the chance to get involved in harvesting trees and wildflowers. ToTap works within the Green Leaders Forum in partnership with the Forestry Commission, English Nature and the Tree Council. For information visit

Sunday 14th September

God our Father, we thank you at this harvest time for creating this wonderful world and for giving us the task of caring for it. Forgive us when the way we live denies our calling. Have mercy on us and our planet. Fill us daily with your grace, that we may always remember that we are your stewards, who one day will be asked for our account.

Monday 15th September

Last February the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, said: "Hydrogen holds out the potential to replace fossil fuels, especially in transport, and could transform our energy system - offering a vision of a transport system that is completely clean with no exhaust emissions." However, the Government's Powering Future Vehicles Strategy, published last year, set no targets for the introduction of hydrogen or fuel cell vehicles. Nevertheless, the Energy Savings Trust is supporting, through its New Vehicle Technology Fund, the deployment of three DaimlerChrysler fuel cell buses in London next year.

Tuesday 16th September

Fuel cells powered by hydrogen have no moving parts and convert chemical energy into electricity efficiently and silently. They keep on producing electricity as long as they are supplied with hydrogen. Moreover, they produce no exhaust - only small amounts of water. The hydrogen needed can be stored and transported as a gas (though it is bulky even under pressure) or liquefied at low temperatures. But creating the infrastructure for transportation and storage is a big obstacle to the creation of a market for hydrogen power.

Wednesday 17th September

Hydrogen can be made in a process powered by natural gas, but this involves emissions of carbon dioxide. On the other hand, hydrogen can be released from water by electrolysis and is pollution-free if the process is powered by renewable energy such as hydro, geothermal, wind or solar power: unfortunately this process is still some way off development. Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute believes that, in the short run, hydrogen made by "reforming" natural gas can still halve total carbon emissions per mile and is a sound interim step while zero-carbon hydrogen sources are being deployed.

Thursday 18th September

Today at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, there is to be a celebration called "Where Next for the Green Movement?" to mark the 30th anniversary of E.F.Schumacher's groundbreaking book, "Small is Beautiful". Speakers include Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence, Jean Lambert, Green MEP and Ed Mayo, former director of the New Economics Foundation. Tickets are obtainable from the ICA tel. 020 7930 3647. Enquiries to Molly Conisbee, NEF, on 020 7089 2855.

Friday 19th September

Three 30,000 Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy have been presented by Jonathan Dimbleby. The winners include the Energy Research & Training Centre in Eritrea which has developed a fuel-efficient and smokeless stove, needing much less wood and so reducing pressure on Eritrea's diminishing woodlands.

Another winner was the West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency for providing village electricification to Sagar Island in the Sundarbans: small photovoltaic power plants provide solar electricity via "mini-grids", each covering a few square kilometers. The power supplied provides lighting and power for homes, but also for heavier applications such as water pumping and industrial equipment.

Saturday 20th September

Among the shortlisted finalists for the Ashden Awards was the Bioregional Development Group's "Zed into the Mainstream" project which, building on experience from the BedZed eco-village in south London, aims to build a 5,000-home zero-emission community in the Thames Gateway, as part of the aim of rolling out zero-emission developments across the country, with a training programme for architects and engineers high on the list of priorities. For details of the Ashden Trust ring 020 7410 0330 or visit For the Bioregional Development Group visit

Sunday 21st September

Lord, no one can tell what will happen at the next rise above the crest of waves.
We wonder why there is turbulence here and there.
We look up at the sky and see thin clouds break and fly past,
Responding to an uprising storm in the far horizons.
No one knows why and how they all happen and what they mean.
In trepidation and terror we watch our shores
Lest the high waters drown our beaches.

Lord, hasten the day when all creation is renewed, with us In faith, hope and love.

(Sione Amanaki Havea, Tonga)

Monday 22nd September

Today is International Car-Free Day, when participants give up the use of their car for a day, or longer, in a joint community action to reduce pollution and improve the quality of life in our crowded cities. For details of activities ring 01932 828882 or visit or

Tuesday 23rd September

Today begins the annual meeting of the World Bank and IMF in Dubai. The UN Human Development Report 2003 criticised the IMF and World Bank's policies of privatisation and austerity measures as a failure, while Save The Children's report "Thin On the Ground" says that the World Bank's misguided infant-nutrition schemes are driving up the debts of impoverished countries. To view these reports visit and For details of the Dubai meeting visit

Wednesday 24th September

Last month the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee published a report criticizing the Government's discussion paper "Aviation and the Environment". In particular, the report found that:
  • The proposed growth in emissions into the atmosphere caused by the aviation industry is unsustainable and unacceptable. Such growth could totally destroy the Government's commitment to a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050
  • In emphasizing economic and social objectives for airports, the DfT is placing a lower priority on environmental objectives and is focused more on mitigating environmental impacts rather than avoiding them where possible
  • The DfT should not have released a consultation that assumes air passenger numbers will increase by 4% a year for 30 years and that fares will decrease by up to 40% a year over the same period without more extensive discussion of the underlying implications
  • While the Government has accepted some form of road-pricing or congestion charging, Alastair Darling dismisses the validity of such an approach to dealing with air traffic congestion. "We are astonished that he denied that there is any parallel in this respect between road transport and aviation."
The committee concluded that DfT "is little interested in sustainability."

The committee recommended replacing the current Air Passenger Duty with an emissions charge levied on flights that would be clearly displayed on air tickets. This would initially raise 1.5 billion a year but should be subject to an annual escalator. It also recommended introducing VAT on ticket sales for domestic flights.

Thursday 25th September

2003 has been declared the International Year of Fresh Water, but 1 in every 6 people on the planet lacks regular access to safe drinking water. 4 litres a day is enough for each person to drink, but 2,000 to 5,000 litres a day is used in the growing, processing and preparing of our food. A basic rice crop requires up to 5,000 litres to grow just 1 litre of rice. Yet pollution has already claimed half the world's wetlands, which are the vital sewage works of the world's water system, as they absorb chemical and filter out pollutants.

Friday 26th September

A UK household uses on average 135 litres of water a day - more than any other European country - while a family in the developing world uses just 10 litres. Practically all our water is stored, filtered and delivered to a drinkable standard, although 95% is used for non-drinkable purposes before it goes down the drain. To provide the world's people with drinking water and sanitation by 2025 would cost $180 billion a year - nearly 3 times more than is currently being invested. Pray for us all to take more seriously the need to provide safe drinking water for the millions who remain at risk from water-borne diseases.

Saturday 27th September

Fiji's main brewery used to discard 92% of its malt and hop waste into the sea, with disastrous effects on the marine ecosystem as the waste would block out sunlight and choke surrounding coral reefs.

Now the Montfort Boys Town School in Suva operates a fish farm to produce food and funds for its disadvantaged pupils, and is able to use the brewery's waste as fish feed. It uses mushrooms and earthworms to break down the lignocellulose brewery waste. The mushroom residues are shoveled daily into nearby chicken and pig farms, while the earthworms produce a rich humus that can be sold for agriculture. The animal waste from the farms is flushed into a digester, from which methane is drawn in bottles, then to be taken to a gas generator, where it produces the electricity used to power the school's lights and to assist in steaming the mushrooms. The solid matter left by the extraction of methane is passed through three algae ponds. The algae are used for composting as a high-grade fertilizer, while the nutrient that emerges from the algae ponds is fed to the school's fish farm. Source: "Upsizing" by Gunter Pauli (Greenleaf Publishing 1998)

Sunday 28th September

Father, we pray, each one of us, for an honest appraisal of our own lifestyle, that we may admit to ourselves and to you all that we are contributing, directly or indirectly, to the pollution of your world. Help us to bear witness, by our example, to our resolve to amend our lives, so that others may take heart and act accordingly.

Monday 29th September

Britain's first commercial cod farm - on the shores of Loch Striven - is now providing fish for supermarkets. Many more cod farms are proposed, particularly in the Shetlands. Wild cod stocks are now severely depleted, so there is a commercial incentive to produce farmed cod. Newly-hatched fish are given antibiotics and vaccinated against diseases and then kept in large tanks at a density of up to 1,000 per tank. Adult cod are fed on fishmeal pellets derived from "trash fish". It is estimated that 4 kg. of fish are required to produced 1 kg. of farmed cod, so increasing the pressure on marine fisheries and making it harder for wild cod stocks to recover. Waste from cod sea cages is spread on the seabed, fouling it and damaging the environment of bottom-feeding animals such as prawns. Cod farming seems unsustainable in the long term and, wherever it is practised, appears to hasten the decline of wild fisheries.

Tuesday 30th September

FoE have produced an educational pack for secondary school pupils entitled "Shout About Waste". FoE Waste Campaigner Claire Wilton explains: "We throw away our own body weight in waste every 2 months, and only 12% of it is recycled. The Shout About Waste pack gives young people a great way to find out about the impacts of the products we use, then throw away. Tomorrow's adults hold the key to turning around our throwaway society."

Education Officer Karen Jesnick says: "Waste is a great issue for 11-13 year olds. It raises many key issues that young people and their families experience day to day, such as finding time to recycle and avoiding over-packaged snacks and drinks. The Shout About pack presents facts about rubbish in a fresh way and is full of activity ideas. It gives young people an opportunity to decide on problems and create their own solutions for dealing with our rubbish." The Shout About pack is available free from FoE on 0808 800 1111.


The Ecologist


The Ecologist
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