“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.”
“Since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities, his eternal power
and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
( Rom. 1.20)
Thursday 1 st July.
In April the Prime Minister said that climate change was the most important environmental issue facing the world today.
Earlier, Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientist, had said that greenhouse gases in the atmosphere could soon be at their highest level since 60 million years ago, when no ice was left on earth, when Antarctica was the best place for mammals to live and the rest of the world could not have sustained human life. He warned that, unless the world curbed its burning of fossil fuels, we would reach that level by 2100.
Yet even in Britain greenhouse gas emissions continue to escalate. Operation Noah is a nationwide programme which aims to work with churches and community groups to bring together all sectors of society to act against climate change. For details write to Operation Noah, FREEPOST SE8672, 9 Nuthatch Drive , Earley, Reading RG6 5ZZ or ring 01949 861516.
Friday 2 nd July.
Jonathon Porritt, chair of the Government's Sustainable Development Commission, has warned that the Government's target of a 60% cut in CO2 emissions by 2050 will be impossible to meet if it allows forecast airport expansion to go ahead. Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee warned in March that plans to cut CO2 emissions would be “meaningless and unachievable” if airport expansion plans went ahead. Sir David King also said that the impact of aviation on global climate change was “an issue of enormous concern.” FoE comments: “The alarm bells are ringing. Ministers must put the long-term future of the planet ahead of the interests of the highly-polluting aircraft industry.”
Saturday 3 rd July.
Germany has, since 1990, reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by 19%. Today 120,000 of its people are employed in the renewable energy industries, with about 6 billion euros invested last year alone. The recent International Conference of Renewable Energies was attended by 3,000 people from over 150 countries. Chancellor Schroeder said: “There is nothing more absurd than the claim that there is an irreconcilable conflict between environmental protection and sensible economics. But it is only when we are able to bring about a significant reduction in the cost of renewable energies that we will have improved opportunities to promote their use in poorer countries. Increasing their use will be a means of providing environmental security and protecting the lives of millions of people.” For more about the conference visit www.wcre.org
Sunday 4 th July.
Heavenly Father, have mercy on us in our perplexity as we confront the challenge of climate change. Help us to look at our choices in the light of your biblical truth, to determine where we stand and then, by word and deed, to take whatever action seems necessary to protect your precious earth, for which your Son died on the Cross.
Monday 5 th July.
Under the EU international carbon dioxide trading scheme, all companies in the EU will have their CO2 emissions capped from next January. Companies that do not use their full entitlement may trade in their units to companies which exceed it. Each round of trading will see a lowering of the entitlement. Emissions will have to be disclosed in company accounts, so there will be no hiding place for heavy polluters. What remains to be settled is the initial level of permitted emissions. Power station emissions are not to be increased, but other industrial sectors are currently being allowed to increase theirs. FoE and other organizations are campaigning strongly against this.
Tuesday 6 th July.
In Nigeria 's oilfields scores of gas flares burn day and night, polluting the environment and wasting the gas. In the rest of the world almost all the gas that is separated from the crude oil is used in production or else sold, but in Nigeria there is no market for this gas. People living on top of the oilfields still use candles to light their homes. The World Bank has described the flares as “the most striking example of environmental neglect” and reckons that, in the late 1990s, Nigeria contributed one-fifth of the world's total of gas flared or vented, contributing both CO2 and methane to the emissions responsible for climate change.
Wednesday 7 th July.
In Scotland over the last five years 90% of applications for wind farms have been approved, thanks to strong policy guidance and the support of the Scottish Executive. In England the figure is about 50%, so undermining the Government's target of producing 10% of our electricity from renewables by 2010. Between 1999 and 2003 every application in Devon , Lancashire and Northumberland was refused. FoE comments: “Climate change is the biggest environmental threat the planet faces. Clean renewable energy has a crucial role to play. The Government must do more to encourage its development by changing the planning rules in favour of renewables such as wind, water, wave and solar power. National Parks should continue to be protected, but unless we start to appreciate the crisis we face and develop this technology on the scale required, the lives and livelihoods of millions for generations to come will be severely threatened.”
Thursday 8 th July.
According to the Institute of Civil Engineers , by 2020 Britain faces an 80% shortfall in energy supplies, thanks to the simultaneous phasing-out of coal and nuclear power stations and the near-exhaustion of North Sea gas. Alternative gas suppliers would be such volatile countries as Algeria , Iran , Turkmenistan , Russia and Nigeria . Last summer's power failures were attributed to under-investment in the electricity distribution system, which Dieter Helm, the Government's energy adviser, describes as “clapped out”. Yet, while renewable sources currently supply about 3% of our electricity, the potential for wind power is enormous, provided the political will is there.
Friday 9 th July.
A North Wales farmer, Geraint Davies, is bringing new life to the Conwy Valley, where three wind turbines mark the start of a community-owned wind farm which will, with the nine further planned turbines, save 26,400 tonnes a year of CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere and supply 10,400 homes with electricity via the national grid. Similar community projects are being launched in Lincolnshire , Aberdeenshire , Cumbria and Oxfordshire. Cooperative Energy 4All enables anyone to become an investor. For details ring 01229 821028 or visit www.energy4all.co.uk
Saturday 10 th July.
In Finland 10% of electricity is generated from biomass, i.e. wood, plant material, crop residues or animal manure. In Britain less than 1% is so generated, yet if all the land currently under set-aside were used for energy crops, they could produce around 5% of our current electricity needs.
Sunday 11 th July.
God of the heavens and earth, you call us today to play our part in the care of your creation and to manage carefully the land that you have given us to tend. We pray for wisdom as we seek alternative uses for land not at present needed for food production. Guide our policy-makers, planners and farmers, and help us all to understand that we hold land, not in perpetuity, but in trust for generations to come.
Monday 12 th July.
Lester Brown in his book “Plan B: Rescuing a Planet under Stress and a Civilisation in Trouble” outlines a plan to build a world economy that does not destroy its natural support systems – a global community where the basic needs of all the earth's people are satisfied. The plan includes a massive mobilization, at wartime speed, to stabilize population and climate and to raise water productivity. “Economic restructuring depends on tax restructuring, on getting the market to be ecologically honest. It is easy to spend hundreds of billions in response to terrorist threats, but the resources needed to disrupt a modern economy are small, and a Department of Homeland Security, however heavily funded, provides only minimal protection from suicidal terrorists. The challenge is to build a global society that is environmentally sustainable, socially equitable and democratically based – one where there is hope for everyone. Given the wealth that exists today, we can satisfy the basic needs of people everywhere. Indeed, we cannot afford not to do so. It isn't a hand-out, it's an investment in our future.”
Tuesday 13 th July.
Hazel Henderson, author of “Planetary Citizenship”, is to launch a television series called “Ethical Marketplace” to raise global visibility of the growing sustainability sectors, such as renewable energy, socially-responsible investment, corporate social responsibility etc. The series will highlight the most ethical companies, the cleanest green technologies and the people fuelling the drive towards more ethical markets. All companies featured will be screened for rigorous social, ethical and environmental audit standards.
Wednesday 14 th July.
In Papua there was a tradition hat, when warring tribes of headhunters made peace, they exchanged a child. The children would grow up with the other tribe, and if conflict threatened again, those children would be sent to negotiate. Peace Child International is a global movement to bring together young people who have identified a problem in their community and want to do something about it. Under its “Be The Change” programme (inspired by Gandhi's saying “Be the change you want to see”) young people – none of them experts – have helped rebuild devastated environments, fight HIV/AIDS, provide safe water for entire villages and implemented unique educational programmes. Last year, in Morocco , a thousand young people came together for the opening, by the King of Morocco , of the “Be The Change” programmes. Next year, Scotland will host a similar event. Peace Child International raises finance for development initiatives and trains students throughout the UK to become Be The Change ambassadors. By presenting dramas in schools they introduce the concept of sustainable development and what young people can do to help achieve it. Contacts: Peace Child International, The White House, Buntingford, Herts. SG9 9AH. Tel. 0176 327 4459. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.peacechild.org
Thursday 15 th July.
Kiyoshi Amemiya, president of the Japanese firm Yamamashi Hitachi Construction Machinery, was so moved by the effects of landmines in Cambodia that he set out to develop, at a cost of $943,000, a mine-clearing machine with a drum bristling with blades that set off anti-personnel mines and can withstand up to 10,000 explosions. In 10 years Kiyoshi has donated 36 machines to Afghanistan , Cambodia , Nicaragua , Thailand and Vietnam through the UN and local NGOs. “Mined areas are often covered in vegetation, but our blades can cut them before disposing of the landmines” says Kiyoshi. “For Afghanistan we made the blades strong enough to resist sand and rocks, while in Nicaragua we modified the blades so they could work in mud. The driver is protected by specially tempered glass, but the machine can be operated by remote control. The metal fragments are collected with a magnet.” Kiyoshi's next goal is to create a machine to clear unexploded bombs. “Clearing unexploded ordnance is difficult and dangerous for local mine clearers, but I'm already working on it and I am tenacious. I will not give up on clearing landmines from the world.” Contact:
Friday 16 th July.
Each year we in Britain replace 15 million mobile phones, of which around 10% are recycled or refurbished. Most end up in landfill, where their toxic contents create long-term problems. Copper accounts for 15% of a mobile phone. We need copper in tiny amounts, but too much can cause vomiting and diarrhoea and has been associated with liver damage and kidney disease. Tantalum, a rare metal, is extracted from coltan mined in West Africa where an army of hungry prospectors hunt elephants and even gorillas for food. Mercury and lead are present in the LCD screens' light sources. Small amounts of antimony, aluminium, nickel and cadmium are present in each handset as products of mining and industrial processes: these are classified as Persistent Accumulative Toxins and their presence has been linked to cancer and neurological diseases. Fortunately, most recycling depots now take mobile phones. For details visit: www.foneback.com or call 01708 684000.
Saturday 17 th July.
Since the 1994 signing of the North Atlantic Free Trade Association (NAFTA) a flood of cheap subsidized American corn has poured into Mexico . The Carnegie Foundation last year reported that, as a result, 1.3 million Mexican farmers, unable to compete with cheap imports, have left the land and joined the swelling pool of Mexico 's urban unemployed or else migrated to the USA to become day labourers on American farms. Small farmers are forced to sell out to larger farmers who use chemical- and water-intensive methods to compete in the international marketplace. Fertiliser runoff into the Sea of Cortez starves it of the oxygen needed by marine life, while Mexico's industrial farmers grow produce for US markets, exporting food from a country where many go hungry to a country where food is so abundant that many of its people are obese.
Sunday 18 th July.
God the Holy Spirit,
Come to us and among us;
Come as the wind and cleanse us;
Come as the fire and burn;
Come as the dew and refresh;
Convict, convert and consecrate many hearts and lives
To our great good and your greater glory.
This we ask for Jesus Christ's sake.
Monday 19 th July.
Cheap American corn in Mexico threatens the future of all corn, for while American farmers rely on a handful of genetically nearly identical hybrids, Mexico's small farmers grow hundreds of different open-pollinated varieties or landraces, the product of centuries of trial and error. In 1970 a fungus decimated the American corn crop, but genes for resistance were found in a landrace in southern Mexico . These landraces will only survive as long as the farmers who cultivate them. The cheap corn that is throwing these farmers off their land threatens to dry up the pool of genetic diversity on which the future of the species depends. Free trade in a staple crop looks rational from an economic point of view. From a biological point of view it seems woefully short-sighted, if not mad.
Tuesday 20 th July.
Researchers from the National Environmental Research Council have published a study in “Science” revealing a sharp decline in Britain's birds, butterflies and plants, supporting the claim that we are already experiencing the sixth mass extinction in the world's history. The study cites the degradation and fragmentation of habitats as the main problem. However, another report in “Science” blames some of the decline on nitrogen pollution from agricultural fertilizers and fossil fuel combustion.
Wednesday 21 st July.
The BBC has reported that French beekeepers say about 90 billion of their bees have been killed over the last 10 years by an insecticide, imidacloprid, which is used on maize and sunflowers. It damages the bees' sense of direction so that they become lost. Imidacloprid is marketed under several names including Gaucho and is used on a number of crops in the UK . The value of bees to the agricultural economy is enormous, and UK beekeepers fear that they are becoming scarcer. For the full story visit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3523453.stm
Thursday 22 nd July.
Following the decision of Bayer CropScience to halt its programme of planting GM maize in Britain , Monsanto has announced its abandonment of plans to introduce GM wheat to the world market. However, according to FoE, the campaign to stop GM ingredients creeping into our food is not yet over. GM imports into the EU could be forced through by the European Commission later this year, while GM oilseed rape and beet could still be licensed for growing under EU regulations. The law still allows supermarkets to sell unlabelled food containing less than 0.9% GM ingredients.
Friday 23 rd July.
According to Greenpeace, Unilever, Coca-Cola and McDonalds – three world leaders in food and soft drinks – have agreed to phase out the use of ozone-damaging HFCs in refrigeration equipment. HFCs are far more potent as greenhouse gases than CO2 and were introduced when CFCs began to be regulated under the Montreal Protocol. Coca-Cola will convert millions of drink-vending machines to non-HFC refrigerants, while McDonalds, in its 30,000 restaurants, will convert its eleven types of refrigeration unit to alternative refrigerants. Alternatives such as Greenfreeze technology have been on the market for several years, yet at current rates of HFC usage, by 2050 HFCs will contribute as much to global warming as all today's private cars put together. Greenpeace demands that:
Governments phase out HFCs immediately, or at least within 5 years;
Governments meanwhile tax the use of HFCs until phase-out;
The parties to the Montreal Convention stop funding HFC projects, accelerate the phase-out of HFCs and establish a compensation fund into which HFC-producers pay for the environmental and human health costs arising from the extensive use of HFCs.
Saturday 24 th July.
The road haulage industry is again up in arms about increases in fuel taxes. Before the Government again caves in to their demands, the following considerations may be relevant:
According to the WHO, 160,00 people die each year as a result of floods, droughts, storms and diseases caused by climate change. If our dependence on oil is not reduced, these figures will escalate and the financial cost will far exceed the amount spent on a small rise in fuel costs;
Cheaper fuel means we will use more of it. Only when people understand the real cost of fossil fuels will they cut down on their car use. Only then will manufacturers produce environmentally-friendly cars, oil companies sell us green fuels and policy-makers sort out public transport;
Fuel tax is fair because the polluter pays. It taxes everyone who uses it by the amount they use it. The 25% of British families who have no car still need efficient public transport;
There are already substantial incentives to convert lorries to run on alternative fuels. Plant-based diesels and road fuel gas need to be made more available. Any diesel engine can run on biodiesel without modification and most vehicles can be converted to run on road fuel gases.
If the road haulage industry leads the way, within ten years our road haulage fleet can and will be running on hydrogen.
Sunday 25 th July.
Lord God, maker of heaven and earth, you made us in your own image and set us in a world teeming with life and beauty. You gave us authority, yet we have lost our way. Teach us, heavenly Father, how to live according to your will, so that we and all your creation may worship you in peace and thanksgiving.
Monday 26 th July.
The World Commission on Large Dams classifies 22,000 of China's 86,000 dams as large. A further 300 are planned for rivers in China's south-western region, where ten of the great rivers of Asia start their journey into major countries including India, Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. Dams built to fuel China's industrial revolution have compounded deforestation, soil erosion, landslides and pollution affecting downstream communities. In those communities floods are increasing, fish and animal stocks are decreasing, water levels are fluctuating, all due to decisions reached in China. China's plans to build eight large dams on the upper reaches of the Mekong (known in China as the Lancang) will drastically change the river's natural flood/drought cycle and block the transport of sediment which is so essential to downstream communities. These environmental changes will affect millions of people in Burma, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Despite these serious impacts, construction of the dams is proceeding without consultation with China's downstream neighbours and without any real assessment of the likely impacts on the river and its people.
Tuesday 27 th July.
In 1950 the world contained just over 5,000 large dams: today the figure is more than 45,000. Three-quarters of major rivers in the Northern Hemisphere have been tamed or harnessed. The World Commission on Large Dams details some consequences flowing from many of these developments:
Increase in water-borne diseases including malaria, bilharzias and schistomiasis;
Loss of the annual flow of nutrient-rich silt needed to fertilise farmland downstream;
Significant destruction of riverine ecosystems and wildlife, including forests, in the valleys behind dams;
Reduction in fish populations as the lack of free-flowing water prevents replenishment of oxygen levels, so impeding nutrients from reaching fisheries downstream. This is particularly serious for many thousands of people dependent on fish to feed themselves;
Methane emissions from rotting vegetation in the reservoirs, contributing, in some cases, more to global warming than the emissions from coal-fired power stations producing a similar amount of electricity;
Increased risk of armed conflict when the damming of major rivers reduces downstream flow to other countries;
Displacement and impoverishment of up to 80 million indigenous people since large dams were first built, through destruction of their homes, their lands, communities and culture.
In 1975, according to the Chinese Government, dam collapses killed 250,000 people and caused famine and disease among 11 million more. In the USA in 1976, the collapse of the Teton dam destroyed three towns and hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland. With global warming and the increased risk of flooding, such disasters seem likely to recur.
Wednesday 28 th July.
The Chinese Government predicted that, during 2003, electricity consumption would increase by 5%. Instead it grew by a massive 15%, leading to fears that the north-eastern provinces would exhaust their electricity generating capacity by 2010. Yet China's power generation is among the most inefficient in the world: official figures show that the energy consumed to produce a product worth $1 is 4 times higher than in the USA, 7.7 times higher than in Germany and 11.5 times higher than in Japan. Pan Yue, deputy head of China's Environmental Protection Administration has said: “China is a massive economy growing at an amazing rate. If the present high-consumption and high-pollution mode is not changed, China will lack sufficient resources and environmental capacity to sustain its future development.”
Thursday 29 th July.
Micro-hydro involves the use of small mills and dams to provide clean energy and an alternative source of income for rural communities. In 1995 Miles and Gail Fursdon of Old Town Farm, Poundsgate, bought a water turbine from the Czech Republic, dug a 460-metre channel from a stream to the turbine and transformed the 1936 watermill on their family farm with a micro-hydro power plant. The turbine provides enough electricity to meet the needs of three neighbouring villages (about 80 households) and to sell some 400 MW hours a year to the National Grid for £20,000. Having recouped all costs within 5 years, the turbine is now their primary source of income. Up to 15% of Britain's 8,000 mill sites are thought to be suitable for similar schemes, potentially generating 2% of the UK's electricity needs.
Friday 30 th July.
Britain's 50,00 domestic solar water systems heat water directly. The panels absorb the sun's energy and transfer it via coils connected to the hot water system. Retired civil engineer Richard Hegarty installed solar water panels in his Essex home in 1993. Since then they have provided over 10,700 hours of free, unpolluting hot water for nothing other than the original cost of £4,935. “From the end of May through to October we have silent, clean heat” says Hegarty. A domestic solar water heater saves each year 0.4-0.6 tonnes of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere. If every British home were so equipped, it would save around 10.5 million tonnes a year of CO2 emissions.
Saturday 31 st July.
Recycling levels in Britain hover around 14.5% - far short of the Government's target of 25% by 2005. FoE is urging the Government to provide more funding for local authorities from landfill tax revenues and to reform the landfill tax credit scheme. The best practice doorstep recycling and compost collection schemes cost, on average, £17 per household per year to run, but some councils spend just £1.15 per household. In 2002 Lichfield District Council was granted £410,000 to provide a dry recyclables collection from difficult types of housing that are currently excluded. As a result, they increased their recycling rate from 33% to 43%. Also in 2002, Bath and North-East Somerset Council received a £755,000 grant for their green waste and cardboard collection. For flats where a green box collection is difficult to operate, they developed innovative recycling options. As a result, the recycling rate has increased from 17% to 25%. FoE comments:
“People are willing to recycle, provided they have adequate facilities. The best way to reach the recycling levels obtained by many of our European neighbours is to introduce doorstep recycling. To provide the best schemes, local authorities need adequate funding from the Government. The Chancellor must commit money from the landfill tax to support the best in local recycling.”
The Organic Way.