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

May 2004


"And God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good."

"Prayer is the deliberate and persevering action of the soul.
It is true and enduring, and full of grace.
Prayer fastens the soul to God and makes it one with his will,
through the deep inwards working of the Holy Spirit.
Everything our good Lord makes us to pray for he has ordained
that we should have since before time began.
When we come to heaven, our prayers shall be waiting for us
as part of our delight, with endless joyful thanks from God."
(Mother Julian of Norwich)

Saturday 1st May.
A report from WWF, CARE International, Green Cross International, Oxfam, Tearfund and WaterAid declares that most governments are reneging on their 2002 commitment to halve by 2015 the percentage of people without access to drinking water or basic sanitation. In the majority of the 22 OECD countries surveyed overall aid for water is declining and only 30% of that aid goes to the 30 poorest countries, where most of the 1.1 billion people live who lack access to safe drinking water. Of US development aid, a mere 4% is spent on water and only 8% of that goes to the 30 poorest countries. According to WWF: "Dams and pipes alone will not solve the world water crisis. Sustainable provision of water for people and nature starts with a commitment to protect wetlands and rivers, precious sources of water, from the damaging impacts of development."

Sunday 2nd May.
Loving Father, we thank you for the priceless gift of water. Help us to treasure and conserve the world's water resources and to share the wealth of knowledge about using it more efficiently, and for the benefit of all, but especially those for whom every drop is precious.

Monday 3rd May.
Brazil is home to 17% of the world's fresh water, yet up to 40 million of its people have no drinking water at home. WWF is campaigning, in its Water for Life, Water for All programme, to protect Brazil's headwaters, to reduce wastage and to secure universal access to fresh water. In addition, its £3.5 million "Investing for Nature" partnership with HSBC and Earthwatch aims to tackle the problems of unsustainable fishing, deforestation of headwaters, pollution, diversion of rivers and unnecessary dams by increasing the range of protected wetlands, educating locals on the importance of water resources and strengthening local and national laws for water conservation.
Tuesday 4th May.
A 4.2 billion euro project to take water from Spain's Ebro Delta 750 km. south to its highly irrigated and tourist saturated Mediterranean coast has been axed by the new Spanish Government after a 4-year battle with conservationists. It is still unclear whether the La Brena dam in the Sierra Morena (which would bisect the last viable population of the Spanish lynx) will go ahead, since EU funding has already been approved, but it is clear that the emphasis will now shift to desalination and water-saving schemes.

Wednesday 5th May.
The Alliance of Religions & Conservation (ARC) estimates that 7% of the earth's surface is owned by the eleven major world faiths. WWF and ARC have developed restoration programmes ranging from parish churchyards to forests and entire landscapes. Lebanon's Harissa Forest contains 27 endangered plant species, 169 animal species and 69 bird species, but is threatened with destruction to make way for a hotel building programme. The owners, the Maronite Church, have now designated the remaining 400 hectares a nature reserve, created an ecology centre in a monastery and developed environmental and action programmes in 77 villages and towns.
The Diocese of Manchester, with more than 2 million people, is calling for action in areas covering lifestyle, socially-responsible investment, renewable energy, recycling, energy-efficient travel, use of water resources and sustainable purchasing. Bishop Stephen Lowe wants to "green" every parish in the diocese, so as to become more energy-efficient and help individuals to take responsible decisions about lifestyle and so set an example to local authorities, most of which lag behind on thinking about the environment. For more details visit: or

Thursday 6th May.
The new World Bank Extractive Industries Review (EIR):

  • Finds no link between the extractive industries and poverty alleviation. Rather, it notes that countries with a heavy reliance on oil and gas are less likely to achieve economic growth and meet social development goals;
  • Requires the Bank to obtain the "free, prior and informed consent" of affected people, particularly indigenous people, before starting projects;
  • Requires the Bank to adhere to its own Safeguard Policies and international law obligations, and to "mainstream" human rights into all areas of practice;
  • Recommends that the Bank reverse its current energy investment portfolio, so that instead of 94% of money going to oil and gas projects and only 6% to renewable energy projects, renewables should get the vast bulk of the funds;
  • Recommends that the Bank should get out of oil projects altogether by 2008.
The full report is published on For highlights e-mail
It is believed Britain's Department for International Development is already conniving with the World Bank in order to sideline this report.

Friday 7th May.
Almost half the wind turbine proposals put forward in 2003 were objected to by the Ministry of Defence, according to the Royal Society. The MOD insists that turbines cannot be built within 45 miles of its defence radars as they interfere with signals and low-flying aircraft training sessions. The Royal Society says that the only other European country to impose such restrictions is Germany, and there the exclusion zone is a radius of 5 kilometres. Perhaps our Department of Energy could explain to the MOD why the country needs these turbines.

Saturday 8th May.
British Telecom plans to erect hundreds of thousands of mobile telephone masts so small that they will not require planning permission. They could be sited on street lights and road signs. Their location need not be made public. For more information visit:

Sunday 9th May.
Father, help us to understand that we and all your creation depend for our existence on you and on one another. Teach us how to be good stewards of all that you have given us to tend, and help us to banish from our thinking and our actions all greed, selfishness and short-term views.

Monday 10th May
World trade can provide great material benefits for trading countries when it is truly open and unfettered by unfair practices. The World Trade Organisation (WTO) was formed to resolve barriers to free trade, but recent meetings have become bogged down in disputes. For example, farm subsidies in the rich OECD countries exceed $300 billion a year. Cows in the EU get $2-7 a day in subsidies while 1 billion people have to live on less than $1 a day. The EU is at last turning from production-linked subsidies to the support of more sustainable activities, but high subsidies will continue until at least 2013. America actually increased its farm subsidies soon after President Bush took office.

Tuesday 11th May.
With its 150 member countries, the trading system overseen by the WTO accounts for over 95% of world trade. At least 25 further countries have applied for membership, including Russia and Saudi Arabia. As WTO agreements are made by consensus (not majority voting), negotiations can be complex. Nations which can afford to send experts to argue their case have an inbuilt advantage. In addition, there are over 170 free trade agreements (FTAs) between member countries which, to some extent, deny the principles of free trade, though the WTO can insist that countries outside these FTAs are not put at a disadvantage. Over 300 complaints, some by small countries against bigger ones, have been taken to the WTO since 1995. WTO rules allow governments to take actions to protect human, animal or plant life or health - "Governments are free to set their own standards, provided they are consistent in the way they try to avoid risks over the full range of products, are not arbitrary and do not discriminate." However, there is no appeal against WTO decisions.

Wednesday 12th May.
Obstacles to fair and open trade can take many forms: import licences, export subsidies, government procurement policies, complex technical requirements, sometimes alleged to protect health, safety or the environment. If the WTO did not exist, it would have to be invented. Yet the biggest obstacles are erected by the biggest importers, specifically the USA ($1,420 billion imports a year) followed by Germany ($636 billion), Japan ($441 billion) and France ($394 billion). In 2002 the average US tariff on all products was 3.6% (4.6% in the EU), while the average US tariff on agricultural products was 10% (EU 16.1%), though much higher US rates applied to tobacco, peanuts and sugar. Thus the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

Thursday 13th May.
Though farm subsidies are portrayed as supporting small farmers, 65% of US subsidies go to the top 10 producers, while 60% of US farmers get nothing. Figures from the US Institute for Agriculture & Trade Policy show that in 2002 farm subsidies enabled big US farmers to export maize at 13% below the cost of production, soybeans at 25% below, rice 35% below, wheat 43% below and cotton 61% below production cost. No wonder peasant farmers from Mexico to Mali have gone out of business. Although WTO rules allow the imposition of anti-dumping duties, it is hard for smaller countries to take on giants such as America and the EU. Resorting to dispute settlement procedure is expensive and few countries can match the technical and legal expertise of US trade teams.

Friday 14th May.
For most of the least developed countries (LDCs) agriculture accounts for 20-30% of GDP and 60-80% of employment, whereas in richer countries services contribute over 60% of GDP and agriculture less than 5%. Therefore fairer trade in agricultural products is the main route to increasing prosperity in the poorer countries. In 2002 the EU granted to the 49 LDCs duty-free access to all products except bananas, rice and sugar, whose duties are subject to gradual reduction between 2006 and 2009. Of similar concessions from other rich countries there is no sign. The WTO proposals at Cancun would, according to the World Bank, have lifted 144 million people out of poverty, but the leaders of the G-90 countries walked away from the talks and nothing was achieved.

Saturday 15th May.
Today the annual Kyoto March takes place, starting from the ExxonMobil HQ at Leatherhead at 7 am and reaching the Imperial war Museum, London, around 3.30 pm. It will enable people to sound the alarm about the deterioration of the global environment and especially about the destabilization of the climate. Speakers will include Michael Meacher MP, Norman Baker MP, Caroline Lucas MEP and Stephen Tindale, director of Greenpeace. For more information, ring 0208 8553327 or 07903 316331 or e-mail:

Sunday 16th May.
Lord of all life,
We thank you for the fresh promise of spring
Bringing us new life and hope
And the knowledge that in your good time
New resurrections are transforming creation.

Lord of all life,
We thank you for the warmth of summer
Bringing us joy and vitality
For the blessing of sunshine and shower
And creation reflecting your glory.

Lord of all life,
We thank you for the richness of autumn
Bringing us food for body and soul
The bounty of your harvest gifts
And the colour of your autumn leaves.

Lord of all life,
We thank you for the dark night of winter
Bringing sleep to tired nature
For the protective blanket of snow
And the stark beauty of your winter wonderland.

Make us more worthy of your love and more ready to share your blessings with those around us, in the name of your dear Son, Jesus Christ.

Monday 17th May.
A Global Marshall Plan for ecological and social development is being backed by many organizations and individuals around the world including Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Robert Muller, former UN Assistant Secretary-General and founder of the Club of Rome and Club of Budapest. Kofi Annan, UN Secretary-General, will join a meeting of honorary members in October. The Plan seeks to protect the natural foundations of living and to promote the best ecological and social programmes in collaboration with stakeholders worldwide. For details visit or

Tuesday 18th May.
Eileen Caddy, founder of the Findhorn Community in 1962, has been awarded the MBE "for her service to spiritual enquiry." 50 years ago, in a Glastonbury sanctuary, at a time when she felt she had no one to turn to for help but God, the words "Be still and know that I am God" came to her. The Findhorn Community has now grown to 600 people and is recognized round the world as a centre for spiritual education. For details of its work, visit:

Wednesday 19th May.
Community Time Banks enable people to exchange their skills for time credits - one per hour. Credits can then be swapped for services or redeemed for sterling-funded awards. The Wales Institute for Community Currencies was launched by Dr. Edgar Cahn, founder of time Dollars and author of "No More Throw-Away People", in partnership with the University of Wales and Time Banks UK. Its founder, John Rogers, says: "Community Currencies begin by seeing people as full of assets rather than problems, and set out to unlock their potential." Contacts: John Rogers, WICC c/o Tradeteam, Ebbw Vale, Gwent NP23 8XF or tel. 01495 350744 or email:

Thursday 20th May.
Conventionally-grown cotton uses high levels of pesticides including three of the "dirty dozen" that are so dangerous that 120 countries in 2001 agreed to ban them. Organic cotton farmers use natural fertilizers and only natural means of controlling pests. People Tree, Greenfibres and Hug are some of the fashion companies offering organic cotton products. A directory of companies supplying eco-friendly textiles is available free from the Soil Association. It lists shops and mail order outlets which supply clothes made from organic cotton or wool. Telephone contacts: Greenfibres 01803 868 001; People Tree 020 7739 0660; Hug 0845 130 1525: The Soil Association 0117 914 2444.

Friday 21st May.
An air car, developed in Spain in 2001, will go into full production next year at eight plants in Spain and one in France. The engine is driven entirely by compressed air from cylinders installed in the vehicle. The 25 hp engine will run for up to 200 kms. before needing to be re-charged with compressed air - which takes 3-4 minutes. It can travel at 110 kms. an hour on motorways. The 5-seater CityCat has been joined by the 3-seater MiniCat and modular buses are planned to allow zero-pollution public transport. Production is to be extended to Italy, Portugal, Switzerland, Holland, South Africa and Mexico. Contacts: Miguel Celades tel. 0034 93 362 3700 or e-mail or visit the website:

Saturday 22nd May.
According to the EU Landfill Directive, the UK by 2010 is allowed to send only 0.63 million tonnes of biodegradeable waste to landfill. Yet in 2001 we landfilled twice that amount, and our waste mountain continues to grow. Local authorities have a choice: Do they offer subsidized compost bins and ask people to compost at home, or do they collect garden waste at the kerbside and have it composted commercially? HDRA recommends both approaches. Commercial composting can only handle garden waste, whereas at home we can compost kitchen scraps, pet bedding and even old bank statements. Kerbside collection is also needed when there is too much of one type of compost, say conifer hedge cuttings. For HDRA advice, visit:

Sunday 23rd May.
Lord Christ, you have made us stewards and entrusted us with the wonders of your creation. Instil within our minds a reverence for every living thing, lest in the hardness of our hearts we lose our reverence for life itself. (Frank Topping)

Monday 24th May.
All this week a series of events about the environment is being held to mark the centenary of the Anglican Cathedral at Liverpool. As Liverpool has been declared a fair trade city, the LOAF project (Locally Produced, Organically Grown, Animal Friendly and Fairly Traded) will be celebrated at tomorrow's meeting. On Thursday His Holiness the Dalai Lama will give the Roscoe Lecture , followed in the evening by a meeting chaired by the Rt Rev James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, on "Faith and the Earth: finding common ground - how different religions care for the earth." For details of these and other events, visit the CEL website at:

Tuesday 25th May.
A report from President Bush's Council of Economic Advisers in February suggested that fast food workers might be re-classified as manufacturing workers rather than service workers. This would add 3.5 million manufacturing jobs at a stroke to the declining US manufacturing sector. More importantly, believes Eric Schlosser, author of "Fast Food Nation: what the all-American meal is doing to the world", fast food and the mentality that goes with it has brought us: the homogenization of culture, both regionally and worldwide; a low-wage, alienated service sector workforce; a low-wage exploited meat-packing workforce; a widening gap between rich and poor; concentration of economic power; the control of local and national governments by agribusinesses; sophisticated mass marketing aimed at children; a view of farm animals as industrial commodities; unspeakable cruelty towards those animals; the spread of factory farms; extraordinary air and water pollution; the rise of food-borne illnesses; antibiotic resistance; BSE; soaring obesity that leads to soaring rates of asthma, heart disease and diabetes; a cloying, fake, manipulative disposable, plastic worldview - the sole aim of which is to make a fast buck.
The alternative, he believes, is "slow food".

Tuesday 26th May.
Slow Food, according to Schlosser, is food grown and prepared using methods that are local, organic and sustainable. Slow Food, founded by Carlo Petrini almost 25 years ago, is a movement made up of nearly 100,000 people in five continents. The Slow Food Awards go to people who are betting on themselves and their ability to overcome the obstacles of the modern world in order to grow and share the food of a land to which they feel passionately connected.

Wednesday 27th May.
In Guinea, the seeds of the soungala tree are used to produce sintin, a non-fermented drink with a high sugar content valuable to women working long hours in the fields or during Ramadan. Encouraged by two researchers, who have studied the soungala tree, a group was formed which buys the dried seeds and sells about 90 litres of sintin a week. As a result, village leaders now protect the soungala trees against logging and encourage the planting of seeds, which remain viable after processing, to re-forest the areas devastated by logging. The two researchers, Diallo and Camara, are joint winners of a Slow Food Award.

Thursday 28th May.
Vanilla is an epiphytic orchid which depends on its proximity to other plants for shade and nutrients. Therefore cultivating vanilla helps to guarantee the forest's survival. The farmers of Rancho Grande in Mexico traditionally grow coffee, but in the face of competition from the coffee giants, they were persuaded by Raul Antonio Manuel to start cultivating vanilla. Today he supports and advises about 20 villages with a total of about 500 vanilla growers on how to farm the crop. For helping to restore a traditional crop to an important place in the market, winning over the enthusiasm of new producers and making Indian communities once more proud of a product rich in charm, history and culture, he has won a Slow Food Award.

Friday 29th May.
Nutritionist David Thomas has analysed data from government-backed studies on 64 foods between 1940 and 1991 and discovered dramatic reductions in mineral content as a result of the overuse of fertilizers, which encourage plants to grow, but only at the expense of key minerals. Since 1940, for example, vegetables have lost 76% of their copper, 46% of their calcium, 27% of their iron, 24% of their magnesium and 16% of their potassium. Between 1978 and 1991 they lost 57% of their zinc. Could this be one reason for the current epidemic of obesity in Britain?

Saturday 30th May.
Rashida Bee and Champa Devi Shukla, two women survivors from the 1964 Bhopal disaster, when a gas leak from Union Carbide's pesticide factory killed thousands of people, have been awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize for their role in leading the struggle for justice for the victims. Said Champa: "This prize will go a long way in helping to reconstruct the lives, jobs and health of people devastated by Union Carbide/Dow. In addition , we will use the prize to set up our own national prize in India for those people who are also fighting against corporate crime." Many studies have found dangerous levels of mercury, nickel and other toxins in the local groundwater, which local people have no alternative but to use for their daily supplies. During their 20-year struggle, both women have been arrested, then released, then they travelled to Johannesburg for the 2002 Summit and last year went to America and met the chief executive of Dow Corporation, the successors to Union Carbide. For more information ring Greenpeace on 020 7865 8255.

Sunday 31st May.
Lord, we thank you for the lives and examples of all who have struggled to protect your lovely world against the forces of materialism and greed. Grant that their efforts and sacrifices may not be in vain. Raise up many like them who are prepared to stand out and risk ridicule, or worse, for the sake of protecting your beautiful world, which you have given us for our home, and for which your Son died on the cross. Amen.

A selection of sources:

The Ecologist
The Organic Way (HDRA)
Positive News
Wildlife (BBC)
World Trade (Understanding Global Issues)
WWF News


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