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

April 2004


"This is what the Sovereign Lord says:
'You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and beauty. . .
You were blameless in all your ways from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence, and you sinned. . .
By your many sins and dishonest trade you have desecrated your
sanctuaries. So I made a fire come out from you, and it consumed you,
and I reduced you to ashes on the ground in the sight of all who were
watching.'" (Ezekiel 28. 12,13,15 & 18)

"The human community and the natural world will go into the future
as a single sacred community or both will perish in the desert."
(Thomas Berry)

Thursday 1st April
In 1994 Mexico joined the North America Free Trade Area (NAFTA) on the promise that thousands of US companies would re-locate permanently to Mexico, heralding a period of sustained economic growth. Last December the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace published a report which concluded: "The agricultural sector, where almost a fifth of Mexicans still work, has lost 1.3 million jobs since 1994. Real wages for most Mexicans today are lower than when NAFTA took effect . . There has been a dramatic rise in the number of migrants to the US, despite an unprecedented increase in border control measures . . Mexico's most vulnerable citizens have faced a maelstrom of change beyond their capacity, or that of their government, to control." In effect, Mexico has been plundered for the benefit of its powerful neighbour. Now many of the US companies that set up assembly plants in Mexico have moved to China, where industrial workers earn even less.

Friday 2nd April
Panchayats are India's elected village authorities. In Plachimada, Kerala, Coca-Cola has a bottling plant which extracts up to 600,000 litres of groundwater a day in order to clean its bottles and make drinks. A year ago the local Panchayat decided not to renew Coca-Cola's licence "as the company was causing a shortage of drinking water through over-exploitation of groundwater resources." Tests showed that waste from the factory, billed as "free fertiliser" was contaminated with cadmium and lead. Coca-Cola appealed to the Kerala High Court, which ordered it to close its boreholes and stop drawing groundwater. Coca-Cola has made a further appeal calling for a 5-year programme to assess the environmental and health impacts of its operations. Velur Swaminathan, convenor of the local committee, said "If another company takes its place, we will fight them too. Coca-Cola is doing this in other countries around the world and we must stand in solidarity with them."

Saturday 3rd April
Today at Coventry Cathedral there is a Parish Pump Workshop to look at environmental issues of concern and how individuals can help meet the targets set out at the Johannesburg Summit in 2002. The speakers include Alan Gear (former Chief Executive of Ryton organic Gardens), Claire Foster of the Church of England Community & Public Affairs Committee, and David Shreeve of the Conservation Foundation. For details ring John Hall of Coventry Diocese on 024 7671 0500 or Jo Rathbone on 024 7667 8735. Cost for the day: £5.

Sunday 4th April
Lord, grant that all who contend for the faith may never injure it by clamour and impatience, but that, speaking your precious truth in love, they may present it that it may be loved, and that men may see in it your truth and beauty. (William Bright)

Monday 5th April
NAFTA & WTO provisions have several times been invoked by corporations to challenge governmental actions over water services:
" US-based Sun Belt Water sued the Canadian Government for $10 billion because British Columbia had vetoed its plans to export local water to California. Sun Belt claimed that the veto expropriated its future profits.
" Multinational water company Vivendi sued the Argentinian Government for $300 million when a water privatisation deal went sour. Vivendi claimed its investor rights were infringed by public health orders, service obligations and rate regulations.
" Bechtel, a US-based multinational, demanded $25 million from the Bolivian Government for cancelling the privatisation of water services in the city of Cochabamba when the local population reacted with fury to unaffordable water rate rises imposed by the corporation.
The World Bank encourages governments to sell off water utilities to reduce their public debts. Fortune magazine predicts that "water promises to be to the 21st century what oil was to the 20th."

Tuesday 6th April
The Blue Planet Project in 2002 launched a draft treaty which stated: "The Earth's fresh water supply is a global commons, to be protected and nurtured by all peoples, communities and governments of all levels. Fresh water will not be allowed to be privatised, commodified, traded or exported for commercial purposes and must immediately be exempted from all existing and future international and bilateral trade and investment agreements." The 4th World Water Forum is scheduled for March 2006 in Montreal. Blue Planet is working with like-minded groups to enlist the support of delegates who share the view that water is part of the global commons and wish to see the adoption of a Water Commons Treaty. For further information visit or email:

Wednesday 7th April
The collapse of the WTO negotiations at Cancun last September provides an opportunity to restructure the WTO so as to address the twin problems of poverty and environmental destruction. Up to thirty Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEAs) ranging from the Convention on Climate Change to the Montreal Protocol and CITES are in potential conflict with WTO rules that recognize no restraints on trade on social, environmental or health grounds. If the WTO were to recognize that MEAs cannot be overruled, then clearer goals could be set for the WTO which would recognize the primacy of environmental protection and poverty reduction alongside trade issues. Pray for this to happen.

Thursday 8th April
The Global Commons Institute, led by Aubrey Meyer, has long proposed a plan called "Contraction and Convergence" to meet the threat of climate change. It has been endorsed by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, the World Council of Churches and several African states. Under it, everyone would have the right to emit the same amount of carbon dioxide. Each nation would be set quotas based on population size, adding up to a figure that the world's climate could tolerate. A deadline of 2050 would be set for convergence. Meanwhile quotas could be bought and sold on an international market. An essential first step is to bring into force the Kyoto Protocol. Then nations could start negotiating bigger cuts in emissions, leading to equilibrium by 2050. The booklet "Contraction and Convergence" can be ordered from the Schumacher Office on 0117 903 1081.

Friday 9th April. Good Friday
Lord Jesus, as we dwell on your great love for humankind in treading the path of the Cross for our sakes, help us to take up our own crosses in the struggle to protect your beautiful world. Give us strength of purpose and the courage to go on, even when the path ahead seems beset with difficulties.

Saturday 10th April
"In order to live, we must daily break the body and shed the blood of Creation. When we do this knowingly, lovingly, skilfully and reverently, it is a sacrament. When we do it ignorantly, greedily and destructively, it is a desecration. In such a desecration we condemn ourselves to spiritual and moral loneliness, and others to want."
(Wendell Berry in "The Gift of Good Land")

Lord, you have given us this beautiful world with the ability to harvest its products for our nourishment. Yet in our greed we have been robbing future generations, poisoning your world and destroying many of your creatures. Help us to realize that we interfere with your world at our peril. It is our hand, not ours, that rules this world and we are here as your stewards.

Sunday 11th April. Easter Day
Loving Father, we thank you for the love of your Son Jesus Christ who gave his life for us on the Cross. We thank you that by his death he has destroyed the power of death and won for us the hope of everlasting life. We praise and bless you that he is with us always and that nothing in life or death can separate us from him.

Monday 12th April
The government has proposed 15 large offshore wind farms to meet its target of deriving 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2020. Opponents of these plans argue that we are custodians of the landscape for future generations, hence it is our duty to fight them. Denmark already gets 21% of its electricity from wind energy and many of its wind farms are owned by the community. Yet neither renewable energy nor energy efficiency can keep up with increasing consumer demand. According to Dave Elliott in the Schumacher Briefing "A Solar World":
"If we don't like using fossil fuels because of climate change, don't want to go nuclear because of its risks, and don't want wind power because of its visual intrusion, then we are going to have to think about our lifestyle - whether we really need a dishwasher, tumbledryer, plasma TV and SUV."

Tuesday 13th April
The Bank of Scotland estimates that £9 billion of investment will be required, primarily in wind farms, in order to achieve the Government's target of 15% of electricity generated from renewables by 2015. Yet the banks still fear that the terms of Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) (which require electricity companies to source a proportion of their electricity from renewables) may be changed, so putting at risk their long-term investment. What is required, it is said, is:
" A decision on the future of nuclear power;
" The introduction of a rolling ROC scheme whereby the buy-out price will be fixed for 10-15 years;
" A guarantee that priority will be given to electricity produced from renewable sources.

Wednesday 14th April
A study commissioned by FoE has calculated that between 1882 and 2002 ExxonMobil and its predecessors have contributed 20.5 billion tonnes of carbon emissions - about 5% of the world total. After the 1996 report of the International Panel for Climate Change, which found a discernible human influence on climate change, ExxonMobil increased its production of fossil fuels to record levels. FoE calls on ExxonMobil:
" To state publicly that evidence presented to the IPCC demonstrates that man-made climate change is happening and that burning fossil fuels is the major cause;
" To support the entry into force of the Kyoto Protocol, including the mandatory cuts on carbon emissions;
" To assess its liability for damage caused by climate change and to set aside a fund to meet claims;
" To stop funding organizations that undermine the consensus that burning fossil fuels is the major cause of man-made climate change and that seek to prevent action to cut emissions.

Thursday 15th April
The Government's Energy Bill will establish a new Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to take over the assets of British Nuclear Fuels, including Sellafield and the Magnox nuclear power stations, and to put nuclear clean-up on the fast track. But the manufacture of plutonium will continue at Sellafield and BNFL retains ownership of Westinghouse - the company which owns the AP1000 reactor design, a design which could be used to build new nuclear reactors. So, despite the new emphasis on clean-up and decommissioning, the option remains that Britain could embark on a new nuclear building programme.

Friday 16th April
According to the International Energy Agency, China's electricity consumption has doubled in 10 years and is likely to quadruple by 2020. 80% of its energy is generated from coal, posing a major climate problem. With its huge wind resources, especially in Mongolia and along its 3000 km. coastline, China has put out tenders for 2,000 MW of onshore wind capacity and has guaranteed long-term prices to the lowest tendered bid. Greenpeace China is encouraging the authorities to shift away from coal generation to clean and safe wind power.

Saturday 17th April
Environmental pressures, chiefly desertification, have caused the abandonment of 4,000 villages in the Chinese province of Gansu, while in Iran thousands of villages have been abandoned because of spreading deserts and lack of water. Sana'a, the capital of Yemen, where the water table is falling by 6 metres a year, is forecast by the World Bank to exhaust its remaining water supply by 2010. Quetta, capital of Pakistan's Baluchistan province, depends entirely on 2,000 wells pumping water from a non-renewable aquifer and is expected to exhaust its supply by 2010. According to Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, the refugee flows caused by falling water tables and expanding deserts are just beginning. How large these flows become remains to be seen.

Sunday 18th April
God our Father, prayer is a mystery. We do not understand how it works or how our feeble petitions reach you. But we know that Jesus prayed and opened the way into your presence. Help us to follow his example and teaching, and to learn to pray more naturally, more readily and more often, and always in his Name. (Llewellyn Cumings)

Monday 19th April
Farmers have been slow to recognize that land can deliver a whole range of goods and services, not just agricultural crops and products. Forum for the Future believes that more farmers could grow energy crops for biomass power stations or feedstocks for liquid biofuels. They could work with local authorities, water companies and industry to turn biodegradeable waste into a valuable soil restorer, and they could help combat climate change by sequestering carbon in soils and by growing trees. The Forum's Rural Economy Programme is working with farmers and landowners to identify the opportunities and to help overcome obstacles to scaling up good practices. For more information ring Rupert Howes on 020 7324 3605 or email:

Tuesday 20th April
Doug Wanstall, an Ashford farmer, sidetracked the supermarkets by selling his Freedom Food-accredited eggs direct to premium clients in London. Then came the congestion charge, with a £3,000 a year penalty. Now he converts his customers' cooking oil to biodiesel, which he uses in his vehicles, so cutting fuel duty by 20p. a litre. "I often wonder where we'd be now if we hadn't started marketing our products ourselves. From that we developed into wholesaling - and now we're a fuel producer."
Paul Redmore runs an organic chicken business. The 9 litres of water required for each bird at slaughter-time had to be tankered off site at a cost of £64,000 a year - until he built a reedbed filtration system. Now the solids are removed for incineration while the remaining water flows into a series of reedbeds, where bacteria clean it up, and release it into a lake - so providing a clean swimming area for the Redmore family. Finally the water seeps back into the aquifer, ready for further use.

Wednesday 21st April
The village of Marton near Salisbury has one of Britain's 40-50 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) schemes. The community purchased a plot of land to keep members in seasonal vegetables, plus a slaughterhouse so that they can eat meat from local farmers' livestock. In the USA, where every state imports 85-90% of its food, the food arrives in the supermarket waxed, coloured, irradiated, fumigated and packaged, having lost much of its taste , quality and vitamin content. CSA schemes there ask members to contribute towards seeds, fertilizers, water and equipment; in return, they get cut-price, fresh seasonal weekly produce. The Soil Association's Cultivating Communities programme is helping to set up about 80 such schemes. For details visit the website: or ring 0117 987 4608.

Thursday 22nd April
The forests of British Columbia have been under great pressure from loggers. Now loggers and environmentalists have come together to protect the most sensitive parts of the Great Bear Rainforest, while exploiting the rest on a sustainable basis under a new method called Ecosystem-based Management. Meanwhile a new forestry company, Iisaak Forest Resources - run by indigenous peoples - is an FSC-certified firm which operates in Clayoquot Sound under three principles:
" Respect for First Nations' traditional knowledge
" Promotion of sustainable economic development involving local communities
" Protection of the ecological integrity of Clayoquot Sound.

Friday 23rd April
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification now covers 40 million hectares of forest worldwide. Producer groups and buyer groups (such as B & Q and Homebase) now form a world network of over 500 companies. Meanwhile FSC is making certification more accessible and reducing the administrative burden on wood processers taking in both certified and uncertified timber. A new World Bank initiative aims to see 200 million hectares of forest certified by 2005.

Saturday 24th April
Over 23% of the global fisheries catch is thrown back in the sea dead. It is estimated that 10,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed each year in nets in the Channel, Bay of Biscay and Celtic Sea. Last year the European Commission launched a proposal to reduce cetacean bycatch mainly by the use of "pingers". Greenpeace proposes additional measures, including compulsory monitoring to assess bycatch in all the fisheries that pose a threat to cetaceans.

Sunday 25th April
Lord of Creation, the life we possess is your gift. Teach us to value it and to use it wisely and responsibly, for we have but one life to live, one life in which to serve your Church, to advance your Kingdom and to be of help to others. Show us your purposes for our life, and fire us to act.
(Frank Colquhoun)

Monday 26th April
Every year 20,000 tonnes of "marine litter" is dumped in the North Sea. Now seven environmental organizations from Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, the UK and Norway have formed a "Save the North Sea" alliance. "It's not just an environmental problem with fish getting caught in stray nets or birds eating plastic" said a spokesperson. "It's an economic problem for all the fishermen whose propellers get damaged and have to spend hours removing litter from their nets." Since the campaign was launched last year, boats have brought back for safe disposal 210 tonnes of mainly plastic litter and discarded nets. Now teachers from all five countries are to meet this May in Eco Schools, timed to coincide with the launch of the Individual Blue Flag scheme for leisure boat owners who pledge to keep the sea cleaner and safer by, for example, using safe paints, not dumping litter and not employing illegal fishing practices. For further details visit

Tuesday 27th April
From next August, under an EU directive, all cast-off computers and waste electric and electronic equipment must get the 100% reuse or recycle treatment. London-based refurbishers Maxitech Biz recondition equipment wherever possible and provide the products at low cost, on a not-for-profit basis, to charities and individuals with low incomes, start-up businesses etc. All data is wiped from disks with security-tested tools and any equipment that cannot be reused is dismantled for parts and the rest disposed of in as environmentally-friendly a way as possible. For more details ring Maxitech Biz on 0870 199 5010 or visit

Wednesday 28th April
The construction industry accounts for 45% of the global flow of raw materials. In Britain it consumes 70% of available timber. Our homes produce 27% of UK emissions of carbon dioxide. Now HBOS, Britain's biggest mortgage lender, has formed a partnership with WWF to encourage housebuilders to build sustainability into their business strategies and day-to-day operations. An annual survey of leading housebuilders will monitor progress. The first survey, called "Building Towards Sustainability" can be downloaded from

Thursday 29th April
Percy Schmeiser is a Canadian farmer who, despite refusing to grow Monsanto's GM canola, was found to have his fields contaminated by GM seed and was successfully sued by Monsanto for infringement of their patent. Percy's appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada began to be heard in January and a decision is still awaited. Monsanto claims that by putting a gene into a seed they invented the seed. When the seed becomes a plant, they invented the plant. Percy asks: "If you put one gene into any seed, plant, animal or life-form - whether it be bird, fish or human - does that say the corporation responsible has invented that life-form? Can they invent a human being?" For details visit

Friday 30th April
Percy claims that, within 2 years after the introduction in 1996 of GM canola, superweeds (weeds carrying Monsanto's mutant genes) had become dominant and now pollute the entire western prairies. "All our seeds are contaminated. We can no longer sell canola to the EU. We have lost our markets all over the world." But, he says, the greatest curse will be from prescription drug plants or "pharma plants" now being developed to produce vaccines, industrial enzymes, blood thinners, blood-clotting proteins, growth hormones and contraceptives. What if somebody has had major surgery and they then eat food contaminated with genes from a plant manufactured to be a blood thinner? Or what about a pregnant woman who eats food contaminated by genes from a plant manufactured as a contraceptive? "What kind of legacy do we want to leave our children and grandchildren? A legacy of land, food, water and air full of poisons - or one full of health and vitality? My wife and I are in our seventies, but we are determined to spend the rest of our lives, if necessary, protecting our human rights."

Some sources:
The Ecologist. Country Way.
Green Futures. Greenpeace Business.
Schumacher UK. WDM Action.

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