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CEL home > Resources > Prayer Guide index to months > March 2004

March 2004


"The heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the work of his hands . . .

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple."
(Psalm 19. 1&7)

Unlike God, nature is not infinite. The delicate balance that maintains life, while amazingly forgiving and adaptable, has its limits. Balance is maintained when the purpose of creation is maintained and God's creatures live in love and care for each other because they are living in love with God. But as soon as this balance is forgotten, then the balance is upset." (Barbara Wood)

Monday 1st March
From today until the 14th is Fairtrade Fortnight, celebrating the 10th birthday of the Fairtrade Mark. Oxford is holding a Town Hall reception followed by a Fairtrade Festival with music and supporters dressed in banana costumes. Lancaster and York will remember ancient rivalries by playing "Unfair Games" to symbolize the uneven playing field in world trade. Southampton, on the 5th, will welcome a banana boat from the Windward Islands with local bands, actors and supporters dressed as Fairtrade foods. The bananas will be served in hospitals and community centres with messages from the farmers. Since 1994 millions of producers from Sri Lankan tea pluckers to Tanzanian coffee farmers have been helped towards a better life. In 2002 alone they received £20.3 million from European sales of Fairtrade coffee. For more details visit

Tuesday 2nd March
"Ecological footprinting" is an attempt to quantify the impact of human consumption on the environment. Each human on average uses about 2 hectares to meet basic needs, but each person in Western Europe and North America uses up to 10 hectares. According to WWF's Living Planet Report 2002, human consumption already outruns the earth's biological capacity by about 20% and would be over 3 times that capacity if everyone consumed at the rate of North America. Since 1950, Africa has lost 2.6 sq km of forest and woodland - an area as big as Argentina - much of it due to clearance for cattle pasture and deforestation for the timber industry. Japanese forests have been largely protected, while the Japanese remain heavy buyers of tropical timber.

Wednesday 3rd March
At the 1994 UN conference on Population & Development in Cairo, countries agreed to spend $17 billion a year on population & reproductive health by 2000, but in that year only $11.2 billion was spent and in 2001 the figure fell to $9.4 billion. The plan involves a blend of solutions including education, gender equality, health care, sustainable economic development and family planning. Most basic is a woman's right to decide how many children to bear - a right taken for granted in industrialized countries, but still all too rare in the developing world.

Thursday 4th March
In the West, a falling population has reduced the sense of urgency on population issues. President Bush has already reduced US funding for the UN Population Fund, the world's largest source of funding for population and reproductive health programmes which help to provide family planning advice and services to support safe pregnancy & childbirth throughout the developing world.

Friday 5th March
Today is Women's World Day of Prayer, based on the theme "In Faith Women Shape the Future". On it women around the world are encouraged to
" Affirm their faith in Jesus
" Share their hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, opportunities and needs
" Become aware of the whole world & no longer live in isolation
" Be enriched by the faith experience of Christians of other countries & cultures
" Take up the burdens of other people & pray with and for them to become aware of their talents and to use them in the service of society.
For details of events, visit

Saturday 6th March
A day conference organized by "Sustainable World - Sustainable Leicestershire" meets today at Christ Church, Clarendon Park Road, Leicester. The keynote speaker, Michael Meacher MP, is followed by presentations by each of four world religions on "Faith Perspectives on the Environment & Sustainability". Later there are workshops on energy conservation, fair trade, local food, recycling, sustainable farming and sustainable transport. For details contact Penny Foster, Christ Church, 105A Clarendon Park Road, Leicester LE2 3AH.

Sunday 7th March
Heavenly Father, you know, more than we, what is happening to us and our world. We know that the way we live exploits and degrades your creation. May your Holy Sprit enlighten our political leaders and guide us to respect human rights and the living world. May life be renewed - may your Name be magnified.

Monday 8th March
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on a scale of less than 100 nanometres: one nanometer is 1,000,000th of a millimeter, or about 80,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. In theory, it will allow the control of production of everything, since the properties of all matter flow from their atomic arrangements. In 2002 over $2 billion was spent on nanotechnology by governments around the world. The DTI estimates that the market for nanotechnology will reach over $100 billion by 2005. By comparison, the global sales of pesticides and seeds for agriculture are around $30 billion.

Tuesday 9th March
Nanoparticles, i.e. clusters of atoms of 100 nanometres or less, are already used in many applications including sunscreens and bandages, with little knowledge of their environmental and health impacts. Of the $710 million being spent by the US Government on nanotechnology only $500,000 is being spent on any environmental impact assessment. We know that ultra-fine particles from cars and industrial processes are a cause of ill-health through air pollution. Are we in danger of making the same mistakes with nanotechnology that we made with DDT and PCBs? Greenpeace believes there should be a moratorium on the release of nanoparticles until they can be shown not to be hazardous.

Wednesday 10th March
A Toronto company has applied for patents on the carbon molecule buckminsterfullerene. If ownership of molecules is allowed, it opens up a whole new world for private ownership, and effectively cuts out the poor from reaping the benefits from products of nature which hitherto have been regarded as public property.

Thursday 11th March
The big challenge is to ensure that the kinds of possibilities and products that flow from nanotechnology are the ones we want, and not (as with GM crops) ones that the public rejects. It would be better to do the right things from the start rather than attempting to control some undesirable product when commercial interests have committed huge resources into its development. Greenpeace therefore calls for a Citizens' Jury to determine research priorities in nanotechnology. This would be drawn from the agricultural, defence, energy, pharmaceutical and IT sectors together with representatives of civil society and stakeholders.

Friday 12th March
The public seems increasingly unwilling to accept the word of a company or government on the risks and benefits of technology. Designing research agendas to meet public aspirations may be difficult to achieve, but the alternative for us all is to be passive receivers of new technologies concocted by a small number of technologists at the behest of the companies which employ them. Scrutiny before financial & political commitments become irreversible could be hugely beneficial as well as being, quite simply, an exercise in democracy. For Greenpeace proposals visit

Saturday 13th March
According to Jonathon Porritt, an essential attribute of our model of progress is speed: "Eat faster, get the news faster, communicate faster, date faster, mate faster; life in the fast lane is the aspiration of countless millions, regardless of the career crashes and life-wrecks that litter that lane."
What drives the wheels of commerce and material progress includes: efficiency, markets, productivity, growth, doing deals, taking risks, making money. What generates real quality of life includes: friends, children, food, music, having a good time, sport, hobbies, supportive & safe communities, gardening, reading etc. How, he asks, in a sustainable society do we balance our hunger for change, our insatiable curiosity, our pioneering spirit, our ability to manipulate nature, with other qualities that depend on a different rhythm - cultural continuity, stable communities, time for reflection and spiritual devotion, an enduring relationship with the natural world, with its very different cycles, seasons and time-frames?

Sunday 14th March
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels and all just works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments; and also that, by thee, we being defended from the fear of our enemies may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Saviour. (Book of Common Prayer)

Monday 15th March
At last September's WTO meetings at Cancun, Lee Kyung Hae, a Korean farmer who was for 10 years President of the Korean Federation of Small Farmers, climbed the barricades put up to keep people out of the trade talks. Wearing a large sign "WTO kills Farming" he stabbed himself to death. A note found on him read "I am taking my life so that others may live."
Despite paying lip service to a "level playing field" and to "free trade" WTO rules forced Korea to open its rice markets to dumping by agribusiness giants such as Cargill and ConAgra. In 2001 the cost of rice production in the USA was $18.66 a bushel, but it was sold internationally at $14.55 a bushel. Farm prices are now in free fall, driven down by export subsidies in rich countries.

Tuesday 16th March
The US Farm Act of 2002 increased agricultural subsidies by $82 billion, enabling the USA to double its cotton exports and in so doing to destroy the livelihoods of 250 million African cotton farmers. As a result, African delegations at Cancun led a mass walk-out from the talks in outrage at the refusal of rich countries to remove distortions and unfairness in trade, and at their attempts to impose new disciplines on investment competition and government procurement. Vandana Shiva comments: "Economic democracy can only grow upwards like a tree, with its roots in local ecosystems, cultures and economies, its trunk supporting strong and vibrant national economies and its branches nourishing and being nourished by international trade based on principles of sustainability, justice and fairness".

Wednesday 17th March
Korean farmers are already being subsidized to produce less rice. Now their government is constructing a 20-mile dyke to shut off the seawater over the Saemanguem tidal lands, in order to claim 208 square kilometers for commercial agriculture and industry. When it is completed, 20,000 water birds would lose their habitat, 158 species of fish would vanish and 25,000 fishermen would lose their livelihood. Save Our Saemanguem, supported by Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists, is appealing for international help to urge the government to stop this project, which violates the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. A court has ruled that the construction is illegal, but the government has appealed and the outcome is uncertain. For an update, visit

Thursday 18th March
Community groups in Kent have stopped the building of an incinerator in Canterbury with the capacity to burn 165,000 tonnes of waste a year. FoE opposes new incinerators because they encourage waste, use resources and energy inefficiently and can produce harmful toxins. 47 new incinerators are proposed in the country as a whole. To check whether an incinerator is planned for your area, ring FoE Information Service on Freephone 0808 800 1111.

Friday 19th March
The US Government last year filed a complaint with the WTO accusing the EU of blocking trade through its policy on GM food imports. The WTO will make its decision in secret and there will be no appeal. If it decides that the US has a legitimate complaint, EU countries (and probably the rest of the world) will have to accept GM food or face sanctions. FoE comments: "The US is putting corporate profit before people and the environment by arguing that Europe's legitimate precautionary policy on GMOs is an "illegal barrier to free trade."

Saturday 20th March
A parliamentary bill, designed to force companies to report on their social and environmental impacts and to place on directors a duty of care for the environment and society, has been talked out in a Commons debate, but will be re-introduced. As an example, palm oil is present in 1 out of 10 supermarket products, such as processed foods, cosmetics, crisps and cakes. It comes from huge plantations in South East Asia and leads to destruction of rainforests, social conflicts and human rights abuses on a massive scale. Few consumers are aware of the problem, but once they were told, the companies concerned would have every incentive to obtain palm oil products from sustainable sources.

Sunday 21st March
Show us, Father, how to protect your creation, not just the plants and animals, but the soil, air and water by which we live, so that no-one may exploit or pollute them for their own profit or convenience. Help us to cherish these necessities for our survival, and guide those in authority to ensure that the human spirit is not starved in pursuit of material comfort and wealth.

Monday 22nd March
The Household Waste Recycling Act became law last October. It requires local authorities to collect two types of recyclable waste by 2010. But currently it is cheaper for authorities to incinerate rather than to recycle, since the Government effectively subsidises incineration by £14.75 a tonne. Incineration contributes to high levels of nitrous oxides, the dioxins given off by burning plastics are extremely toxic and the toxic ash goes to landfill. FoE believes that a tax of £10 a tonne should be placed on the incineration of household waste, while recycling, which saves more energy, creates more jobs and less greenhouse gas emissions, should receive subsidies of up to £50 a tonne for the energy saved. For a list of 57 ways to lose waste, ring Freephone 0808 800 1111.

Tuesday 23rd March
The highest rate of recycling in Britain (44%)is recorded by Daventry. All Daventry's 35 councillors took part in the pilot scheme and supported the introduction of weekly collections of recyclable items such as paper, textiles, cans, glass and some plastics. Collections of garden waste and cardboard alternate each week with collections of non-recyclable waste. The service costs £56 per household per year, which is not much more than the average for England and Wales. Daventry is one of the few authorities that will avoid Government fines for missing the recycling targets set in the Waste Strategy 2000. Lichfield achieved its 33% recycling rate by inviting US magician Timothy Wenk to entertain 4,000 children with his magic recycling antics.

Wednesday 24th March
Today begins a 3-day conference at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire, entitled "20-20 Vision for Rural Britain". The Rev. Dr. Michael Moynagh of the "Tomorrow Project" speaks on the State of the Countryside in 2020 and suggests church scenarios for that date. Prof. John Wibberley speaks on Globalisation and Prof. Sir John Marsh on the Future of British Food & Farming. Enquiries to Jenny Carpenter or Trish Brodrick on 024 7685 3060 or e-mail:

Thursday 25th March
According to Dr. Henderson of the environmental consultancy Pisces Conservation, an estimated 570 million fish longer than 3 cm. are killed each year by being sucked into the 33 power stations on the English, Irish and continental North Sea coasts. The 17 power stations in the southern North Sea kill sole and herring equal to 50% of UK commercial landings for that area. He asks: "What's the point of having a conservation area if you have a power station in the middle of it?" Yet New York State has ordered the Indian Point nuclear power station (which kills 1.2 billion marine organisms a year) to install a new cooling system to reduce wildlife losses, to shut down one of its two reactors for 42 days a year and to pay £14.1 million a year to a river protection fund.

Friday 26th March
A report commissioned by DEFRA from consultancy ERM has found that average fines for environmental offences fell by 47% between 1999 and 2002 and that fewer than 25% of magistrates are familiar with sentencing guidelines for environmental offences. David Stott, prosecutor for the Environment Agency comments: "The 800 cases from us each year are shared among 28,000 magistrates. What are the chances of any one of these seeing any of our cases? We would like to see specific magistrates and judges appointed to deal with environmental offences. With offences by companies, we want to see higher fines and more imaginative penalties, such as making them pay a bond to the court for a fixed period."

Saturday 27th March
More than 1,100 scientists have called on the UN and world governments to stop the destruction of deep-sea corals by placing a moratorium on the use of heavy trawling gear that gouges coral and sponges from the ocean bottom in search of valuable fish. According to one of them: "Bottom trawling is like fishing with bulldozers." Only recently have scientists discovered deep coral fields off Japan, Tasmania, New Zealand, Alaska, British Columbia, California, Nova Scotia, Maine, N.Carolina, Florida, Colombia, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, the UK, Ireland and Namibia. Dr. Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia said that many fishermen he had spoken to recognized the need to move away from bottom trawling, but cannot stop what they are doing because, if they do, in the absence of regulation, they will be beaten by those who go out and continue to destroy the reefs. "The fishermen are onside, but it's time for policymakers to get behind this bandwagon."

Sunday 28th March
Lord, we have violated, and are still violating your creation. We have planted pollution like grain and are reaping a harvest of desolation. Redeem us, dear Lord, by the power of your Holy Spirit from the destruction we have wrought. Turn our hearts back to you and our lives to the service of your creation. Help us to learn our proper place in your world. The earth is yours and you have put us here to care for and protect it. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ who died to redeem your world.

Monday 29th March
A Europe-wide campaign to ban night flights at all European airports was launched at "sleep-in" outside a London conference on the subject. The WHO recommends that night noise heard in bedrooms should not exceed 45 decibels, but the noise of a plane landing 15 miles away can be over 60 decibels, leading to increased heart rates and day-after effects such as depressed moods. Copies of a declaration calling on the European Parliament to introduce legislation for a ban on night flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. are available from Richard Dyer at Friends of the Earth. If 318 MEPs sign it, it will be debated in the European Parliament before the elections in June.

Tuesday 30th March
Government figures for 2003 have shown an increase of 3% in carbon dioxide emissions from energy use. This amounts to an extra 4.5 million tonnes of carbon dioxide. The Government's target is a reduction by 2010 of 20% from 1997 levels. The reasons for the increase are a 2% rise in energy demand and a switch from gas to coal burning, which produces 2-3 times more carbon emissions. FoE comments: "These appalling figures highlight the urgent need for tougher action on climate change, the biggest threat the planet faces. Government policy is obviously not working. They must not wait until next year's climate review. They must put our climate strategy back on track now."

Wednesday 31st March
New figures from the European Pollutant Emission Register lists sources of emissions of 50 pollutants in EU countries. Britain tops the emission tables for greenhouse gases, acid rain gases, chlorinated solvents and metals. Among the worst offenders are:
" AES Drax power station, emitting 49,000 tonnes of nitrous oxides linked to acid rain;
" Carpenter of Glossop, emitting 513 tonnes of dichloromethane linked to cancer and genetic damage;
" Ineos Chlor of Runcorn, with emissions of trichloroethylene, trichloromethane and dichloroethane, all linked to cancer.
The list is far from complete. Bulk wastes are not reported, nor are emissions from the nuclear or mining industries. More comprehensive data is available on the Environment Agency website:


World Population (Understanding Global Issues)
EarthMatters (FoE)
Country Way

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