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

         "Lord, your constant love reaches the heavens;
your faithfulness extends to the skies.
Your righteousness is towering like the mountains;
your justice is like the depths of the sea.
Men and animals are in your care . . .
Your are the source of all life,
and because of your light we see the light." (Ps.36.5-9)

"Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You, too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." (James 5.7 & 8)

"If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7.11)

Monday 1st December

According to Deuteronomy 11 & 28, the blessings of obedience to God include: many children, seasonable rain, good crops and livestock, and economic prosperity. The curses for disobedience include: defective children, failing crops, diseases, mental confusion, disaster in war and climatic catastrophe. Human disobedience has its consequences for the whole of nature (Isaiah 24). Revelation 11.18 declares God's judgment against those who destroy the earth. What then should be our response to the increasing evidence of a sickness in our planet brought about by human activities?

Tuesday 2nd December

"Progress", according to Jurgen Moltmann in his book "God in Creation", "is no longer an expression of hope, as it once was, but a fate to which people in industrial countries feel condemned." But why should we feel so helpless when the example and teaching of Jesus should empower us - just as it empowered the disciples to go out and challenge society with the truth? "I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble, but take heart - I have overcome the world." (John 16.33)

Wednesday 3rd December

Today, the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the first Rachel Carson Memorial Lecture will be given at the Prince's Foundation, Charlotte Street, London. The keynote speaker is Sandra Steingruber, an American ecologist who, 23 years ago, nearly died of bladder cancer and now speaks on the connections between illness, land management and pest control. Her books include "Living downstream: an ecologist looks at cancer and the environment" and "Having Faith: an ecologist's journey to motherhood". Tickets from Pesticide Action Network on 0207 2748895 or e-mail: or visit:

Thursday 4th December

Two American ships, the "Canopus" and the "Compass Island" have arrived off Hartlepool loaded with over 500 tonnes of asbestos and 300 tonnes of solid PCBs which, according to the Stockholm Convention, are one of the 12 most toxic pollutants. Another eleven "ghost ships" are expected to follow. A draft EU law will ban the import of ships containing PCBs from early 2005, while the Stockholm Convention, which bans the production of pollutants including PCBs is expected to become international law by the end of 2004. It is illegal in the USA to export PCBs: nevertheless the exporters have secured immunity from prosecution. It is illegal to import asbestos into the UK. Nevertheless it has happened, and nobody expects any prosecutions. Why?

Friday 5th December

In 2001 the shipping industry agreed voluntary restrictions on ship recycling, yet these are widely ignored. Some six hundred ships are sent each year for scrapping, most containing high levels of asbestos and PCBs. 90% of ships are scrapped in India, Bangladesh, China, Pakistan and Turkey, putting at risk the health of more than 100,000 workers and polluting beaches and local communities. In 2002 ex-navy vessels "Olwen" and "Olna" were sent to Turkey for scrapping. The Turkish Government rejected them due to the level of asbestos on board. Diverted to Greece under new names and flags, they finally ended up at Alang, India, where environmental safeguards are non-existent.

Saturday 6th December

The CBI, Britain's industry lobby group, has described the role it plays as "a continuing struggle with the ever-growing cumulative cost of environmental legislation covering areas such as climate change, pollution and water." It has lobbied:
  • Against the Climate Change Levy, which encourages greater energy efficiency;
  • For airport expansion, despite huge local protests and massive environmental implications;
  • For more roads and a reduction in fuel duty and vehicle excise duty, especially for lorries;
  • Against laws to hold companies liable for pollution, including oil spills such as the "Prestige" tanker disaster off Spain.
Will CBI members ever put the protection of people's health and the environment before their own profits?

Sunday 7th December

Loving Father, you sent your Son to be a light to those who walk in darkness. May we who have brought your creation to the edge of darkness see the new path that we must tread, and may we follow it faithfully, in the power of your dear Son, who gave his life for us.

Monday 8th December

Today in the Swedish Parliament the Right Livelihood Awards are to be presented. Among the recipients will be Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, the founder of an Egyptian initiative called SEKEM, meaning "the vitality of the sun". This has spread throughout Egypt biodynamic farming methods based on organic production and the re-use of waste products. Among its widespread activities - agricultural, commercial and cultural - it has developed a system of plant protection for cotton, leading to a complete ban on cotton dusting throughout Egypt. Since 1990 pesticide use has fallen by 90%. 80% of Egyptian cotton is now grown organically and average annual yields have increased by nearly 90%. Dr. Abouleish stresses that all aspects of the company have been developed from Islamic principles.

Tuesday 9th December

Among the bodies concerned for the future of farming in Britain, Land Heritage has for many years upheld and promoted biblical precepts on farming and food - mainly to be found in the Mosaic law, the Psalms (especially 65 and 104), Isaiah 11 and 65.

Project Carrot is a Herefordshire project based at Holme Lacy College which aims to develop better farming practices. It finds that each person in Herefordshire utilises 5.9 hectares to meet all their food and resource needs - an unsustainable situation considering that only 2.2 hectares per person is available throughout the world.

Over-consumption of oil and phosphates is a key issue, both of them likely to be exhausted by 2050. Pollution from agro-chemicals, soil in waterways resulting from erosion, emissions of greenhouse gases and nutrient pollution from nitrates and phosphates - all arising from normal recommended farming practices - are further problems. These, according to the Environment Agency, result in external costs (i.e. not borne by the farmer) of 208 per hectare. For details of Land Heritage visit: or write to: Land Heritage, Summerhill Farm, Hittisleigh, Exeter EX6 6LP.

Wednesday 10th December

Farming practices that save energy include:
  • Relying more on clover for nitrogen supply;
  • Reducing tillage;
  • Ensuring effective recycling of manures and wastes;
  • Building soils through crop rotations including grass/clover leys and green manures.
Practices that can reduce pollution include:
  • Better rotations of crops;
  • Reduced or no use of soluble fertilizers;
  • Mechanical weed control;
  • Selection of pest and disease-resistant crop varieties;
  • Encouraging natural predators through habitat management.
Necessary government support includes grants for manure storage and advice and information on how to reduce inputs and pollution. Cessation of intensive pig and poultry production would result in better welfare, healthier stock, less medication, less risk of resistance building up in human medicines and better food quality. Government support and encouragement is needed for all these changes. For more information e-mail:

Thursday 11th December

The UK apple harvest has been the best for many years. But, according to Elm Farm Research Centre, distributing 1 kg. of New Zealand apples to the UK results in 1 kg. of carbon dioxide emissions, whereas 1 kg. of locally-sourced apples through a home delivery box scheme results in less than 50 grams of carbon emissions. An FoE survey of Asda and Tesco reveals that at the height of our apple season these supermarkets had fewer UK apples on their shelves than when surveyed last year. Farmers' markets provided the most economical prices, but even greengrocers provided more home-grown fruit than the supermarkets. FoE comments: "The big supermarkets are using their market power to source cheap produce around the world, pushing UK growers and local shops out of business. The Government must stop supermarkets abusing their powerful position."

Friday 12th December

According to FoE, bananas are the most profitable item on supermarket shelves, yet Ecuador, the world's biggest exporter, has some of the lowest wages and worst working conditions in the world. UK retailers make nearly 25 times as much from each banana sold as does a plantation worker. FoE comments: "Supermarkets' aggressive price wars may put cheap bananas on the shelves, but wages and conditions for workers are kept down, while the environment is pushed to the limit. It's a clear example of why big companies cannot be left to act voluntarily and why the law should hold them to account for their social and environmental impacts. Until the laws are in place, the only way to make sure the bananas you buy come from plantations with decent conditions and wages is to buy fruit with the Fair Trade label."

Saturday 13th December

Government trials on the short-term effects of GM crops have shown that GM sugar beet and oilseed rape may damage wildlife. Tests of GM maize showed an increase in wildlife but the EU ban on atrazine (the weedkiller used in the tests) undermined these results. However, farmers in the USA and Canada with long-term experience of GM report that, a few years after the first planting of GM crops, rogue GM plants have spread fast: these were resistant to the herbicides applied to GM crops. This led to an increased use of herbicides, including the older and more toxic chemicals.

Sunday 14th December

Father, we pray for all scientists, that they may combine zeal in research with care for the consequences for the world and its creatures;

For all politicians, that they may be delivered from self-seeking and the short view, and may recognize that they hold the world in trust;

For all who feel helpless as they see the dangers to our world that they seem unable to influence. Help each one of us to see more clearly the part that we are called to play.

Monday 15th December

The national debate on GM food has revealed that only 8% of people are happy to eat GM, 95% are worried about the risk of contamination of non-GN crops, 93% believe that not enough is known about the long-term health effects and 84% believe GM to be an unacceptable interference with nature

According to Colin Tudge, Research Fellow at the LSE and 3 times Glaxo/ABSW Science Writer of the Year, "Today's GM crops and those in the pipeline are not intended primarily to raise total output or quality, but to make it easier to mass-produce crops with minimum labour. GM technology is being applied to wheat, rice and maize, but these crops do not need such technology. For example cultivated rice has 20 or so wild relatives which between them contain all the genes likely to be required e.g. to resist floods and droughts resulting from global warming, and these genes can be introduced by conventional breeding."

Tuesday 16th December

Coal-fired power stations, according to FoE, are Britain's biggest source of carbon dioxide emissions, yet they still produce more than one-third of our electricity. If we are to achieve our target for reducing carbon emissions by 2010, we need to close 8 of the existing 16 coal-fired power stations. Half the coal used is imported from China, South Africa, Colombia and Russia. FoE calls for dedicated biomass power stations - using energy crops - to be built on the site of redundant coal-fired stations.

Wednesday 17th December

In Denmark, more than 100,000 families own shares in wind turbines: Europe's biggest offshore wind farm, at Middelgrunden, is owned by a co-operative. In Britain, by contrast, community ownership has hardly begun. The Baywind Renewable Energy Co-operative owns four turbines in Cumbria and the Renewable Energy Investment Club, with 400 members, owns the Bro Dyfi wind farm near Machynlleth, but these are drops in the ocean. A big obstacle is the lack of interest from developers, who fear management difficulties where ownership is widespread. Yet community ownership is the key to acceptance of wind farms by rural communities. For more information visit:

Thursday 18th December

Last month the 80 million North Hoyle Offshore Wind Farm was opened and linked to the national grid. Its 30 turbines will generate enough electricity to power 50,000 homes. Further offshore wind farms are planned in the Thames estuary and the Wash. The Government hopes to see 6 gigawatts of new capacity installed offshore, generating 9% f the UK's electricity. However, big questions remain: how can offshore wind farm developments be made attractive to private investors when subsidies, as things stand, are due to end in 2010? FoE's free booklet "Windpower. Your questions answered" is available by ringing 020 7490 1555.

Friday 19th December

Massive power blackouts in New York, London and Italy in the summer have underlined the need for an independent de-centralised electricity supply. Unlike coal, gas and nuclear energy, wind, solar, biomass and wave resources are available around the world. If solar PV cells can be brought down in price, this seems the way ahead. Last summer, in a Government demonstration programme, 174 PV roof tiles were fitted to a new church hall at St. Mary's Isleworth. Supplied by BP Solar, the tiles also act as an acoustic barrier against aircraft noise. They provide light and heat for two halls and sell a small surplus of electricity on to the national grid. For more information visit: or

Saturday 20th December

European car manufacturers are committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions from new models by 25% by 2008 and a further 14% by 2012. A new study estimates that greater use of aluminium instead of steel in Europe's annual production of 16 million cars would result in a 7.7 million tonne reduction in carbon emissions. Today's levels of comfort, safety and performance would not be affected. However, fabrication and assembly of aluminium car bodies is far more expensive. So reducing these costs is a major challenge for car manufacturers.

Sunday 21st December

Father, I cannot bring about justice worldwide, but help me to begin where I am. Make me honest and just in all my dealings, true in my words and actions. I cannot alter the course of a suffering and unjust world, but help me to light candles in the darkness in the name of Jesus Christ, who will bring the dawn of righteousness and peace at his glorious Day of Justice and Judgement.

Monday 22nd December

A new WWF report "Water and Wetland Index" details a survey of 23 European countries in respect of their management of wetlands. It finds that Britain lags behind many countries including Estonia, Latvia, Hungary and Bulgaria. "The Government has identified over 500 sites across England and Wales which are drying out due to decades of over-abstraction. Taking too much water for businesses and homes threatens to destroy our most precious wetland habitats such as the Norfolk Broads and Lake Windermere. There is currently no co-ordinated strategy for protecting wetlands or for restoring any of the estimated 70% which have been lost due to human activities.

Exceptionally, Thames Water and the Environment Agency have developed a wetlands strategy as a first step towards recognizing the role of wetlands in safeguarding water supplies for people and wildlife. But in the South and East generally, water reserves are already fully allocated to domestic, industrial and agricultural use: new plans for development may be the last straw.

Tuesday 23rd December

In 2002 the EU banned driftnet fishing, and there has been a UN moratorium on large driftnets since 1992. However, a new WWF report reveals that the Moroccan driftnet fleet of 177 vessels is estimated to catch between 3,000 and 4,000 dolphins a year in the S.W. Mediterranean, i.e. more than 10% of the dolphin population. It also found that Italian, French, Turkish and probably other fleets are still using driftnets, in breach of the legislation. The 700-strong Italian fleet over 10 years ago received EU subsidies for re-structuring its ships, but there are still up to 100 non-compliant boats. In addition about 23,000 sharks are caught annually by the Moroccan fleet. Dr. Simon Cripps of WWF says: "The only valid way to prevent the massacre of dolphins, sharks and other marine species by these driftnet fleets is to make the Mediterranean a driftnet-free sea by enforcing a total ban on all the driftnet fisheries in the region. The EU must urgently help all Mediterranean countries to put in place plans to convert their driftnet fleets."

Wednesday 24th December. Christmas Eve

Lord God, we pray that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move in the hearts of men and women and among the nations of the world that the barriers of fear, suspicion and hatred which separate us may crumble, and that the body of humankind may be healed of its divisions and united in the bonds of justice and peace, for the honour of your Name. (Frank Colquhoun)

Thursday 25th December. Christmas Day

O Child of Bethlehem, grant that we may share with all our hearts in this profound mystery of Christmas. Put into men's hearts this peace which they seek so desperately and which you alone can give them. Help them to know one another better, and to live as children of the same Father. (Pope John XXIII)

Friday 26th December

"The voracious pursuit of material wealth is not only destroying the planet: it's making us unhappy and ill." (Martin Wright in "Green Futures") According to Oliver James, a clinical psychologist, "We need a society which does everything possible to meet the needs of their children." Denmark allows employees to take up to three years parental leave on generous pay and then allows them to pick up the professional reins again at the same level that they left off. Full-time schooling doesn't start till the age of seven, so parents are encouraged to spend more time with their children in those first vulnerable years. Yet Denmark doesn't have to consign itself to economic stagnation in its pursuit of sanity. It is a part of a globalised economy and quite successful at it, too. It is the world's biggest manufacturers of wind turbines and its Bang & Olufsens sell all over the world, but not, they say, to the extent that will produce a wave of crime in 20 years' time, caused by a generation which was neglected in those crucial early years.

Saturday 27th December

Jonathon Porritt in "Green Futures" highlights the madness of present school meal policy:
  • School meals cost, on average, 1.56 per meal, yet a mere 35p. is the average spent on the food itself;
  • 1 in 5 of our children is overweight, and 1 in 10 is classed as obese;
  • 8% of children have nothing to eat at home before going to school, and almost all of the 433 million that they spend on the way to and from school goes on confectionery, crisps and canned drinks.
Until we realize that school meals are not a cost, but an investment; that "best value" does not equal lowest cost; and that real prosperity resides in securing healthy diets and lifestyles for every child in the country, we'll go on getting our sums wrong and leaving it to future generations to pick up the tab.

Sunday 28th December

"The measure of life is not in the heap of goods or honours nor the length of days one gathers, but in the overcoming of hate and despair, the sharing of burdens, the celebrations of joy and love that each day offers." (Beulah Stotter)

Lord, you told us that a person's life does not consist of the things he possesses. Help us not to judge others by what they own. Help us not to want more and more things for ourselves, but to spend our lives seeking the true riches that will endure to life everlasting. Amen.

Monday 29th December

A new World Bank/WWF report "Running Pure" finds that the most cost-effective measure we can take to ensure clean drinking water for the world's major cities is to protect our forests. They act as an effective means of water storage and are able to filter out pesticides and other pollutants. For New York, as an example, it would be seven times cheaper to protect the forests than to build and run a treatment plant. According to WHO figures, there are 1.1 billion people living without access to drinking water, so protective forests are not a luxury, but a basic necessity. For further information ring WWF on 01483 426444 or visit:

Tuesday 30th December

Last July, several major lending banks, including Barclays, HSBC and RBOS, signed the Equator Principles, in which they pledged to eliminate funding for projects that destroy old-growth forests or fuel environmental destruction. However, the Boston-based Fleet Bank (which was not a signatory) has attempted to log rich Chilean forests of Araucaria (monkey puzzle) and Fitzroya (Patagonian cypress) in order to plant alien eucalyptus for pulping. They were stopped by a court injunction pending an environmental impact assessment. Much of the valuable Chilean rainforest is in private hands and fragmentation has taken its toll. Rainforest Action Network is however hoping to save the Valdivian rainforest which remains under threat of logging. For more information, ring RAN on 001 415 398 4404 or visit:

Wednesday 31st December. New Year's Eve

Father God, as we prepare to enter a new year, we approach your throne of grace in fear and humility. We confess that we have brought your world to the brink of destruction through our blindness and greed. Help us to re-examine our lives, that each of us may ask ourselves what part we may play in restoring and renewing your creation. This we ask for the sake of your Son, who came to save us from ourselves.


BBC Wildlife magazine.
The Ecologist.
Green Futures.

For further information and prayer request please email:
or write to:
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN4 OSY

Copyright © 2003-2007 Philip Clarkson Webb and Christian Ecology Link and last prayer Rosemary Wass     email: CEL
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