|CEL Conf. 2004:
Operation Noah Launch
9 Oct Coventry
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“This what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look;
“We cannot put our trust in science for a very simple reason:
“Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.”
Sunday 1 st August.
Father, we pray for all who work closely with the natural world,
Monday 2 nd August.
Tony Blair has warned the House of Commons Liaison Committee that “Climate change is the biggest problem facing the world.” Yet today, as Bangladesh faces some of the worst floods in its history, Government policies are in place that can only worsen the situation. These include:
Proposals under the EU Emissions Trading Scheme to allow industry to increase its emissions of greenhouse gases;
Proposals for increased spending on roads, despite research repeatedly showing that extra road capacity generates extra traffic. Traffic increases are outstripping improvements in car efficiency, leading to ever higher CO2 emissions from the transport sector;
Proposals for new aircraft runways. The resultant increase in air travel is estimated to cause a 250% increase in CO2 emissions by 2030.
Despite promises of a 20% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions between 1990 and 2010, CO2 levels are still on the increase.
Tuesday 3rd August.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams, has recently warned that damage being inflicted on the planet was making the human future more and more precarious. He criticized the addiction to fossil fuels of the wealthy nations. He said:
“Since the oil production of relatively stable and prosperous societies is fast diminishing, these countries will become more and more dependent on the production of poorer and less stable nations. How supplies are to be secured at existing levels becomes a grave political and moral question for the wealthier states, and a real destabiliser of international relations. This is a situation with all the ingredients for the most vicious kinds of global conflict – conflict now ever more likely to be intensified by the tensions around religious and cultural questions.”
Wednesday 4th August.
Dr. Rowan Williams endorsed Sir David King's description of climate change as a “weapon of mass destruction” and called on the Government to take a lead in sharing the earth's resources to avoid inequality and conflict over oil and water resources. He backed the policy of Contraction and Convergence. “Contraction” means cutting the world's output pf greenhouse gases which threaten to heat the atmosphere to dangerous levels. “Convergence” means sharing between all countries the amount of emissions which scientists say the Earth can tolerate, so that by 2050 every person on earth is entitled to emit the same amount of pollution. The plan has already been endorsed by the World Council of Churches and, amongst other bodies, Britain 's Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
Thursday 5 th August.
According to the Archbishop, in the first 48 hours of the year 2004, an average American family was responsible for as many greenhouse gas emissions as an average Tanzanian family over the whole year. He appealed to Tony Blair to use Britain 's coming chairmanship of the G8 countries and its presidency of the EU to press the environmental case. “The Prime Minister has already declared that his international priorities for 2005 will include climate change and the future of Africa . Contraction and Convergence addresses both of these. It seems the moment to look for a new level of public seriousness about environmental issues.”
Friday 6 th August.
The Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy reward outstanding and innovative projects which, through the provision of renewable energy, protect the local environment and the global climate, while simultaneously alleviating poverty and improving people's quality of life. They are designed to encourage wider take-up of small-scale energy solutions worldwide. This year, nine awards totalling £180,000 were presented in a ceremony at the Royal Geographical Society hosted by David Attenborough, Jonathon Porritt and John Humphrys. From solar mini-grids for Bengali villages to micro-hydro electricity for Kenyan farmers and super-efficient stoves for Guatemalan homes, all the projects show the huge potential of renewable energy to transform lives. For full details, including ways of applying for next year's awards, visit: www.ashdenawards.org
Saturday 7 th August.
India 's Barefoot College , a 2003 Ashden Award winner, has introduced solar power to 130 remote Himalayan villages, replacing dirty expensive kerosene or diesel with clean locally-generated electricity. Over 15 years this work has saved around 61,000 tons of CO2 emissions. If this were scaled up to India 's 100,000 villages that lack a grid connection, this would represent a carbon saving of 61 million tons, or just over 4 million tons a year. It is a workable solution for two nightmares – growing poverty in the developing world and global warming everywhere.
Sunday 8 th August.
Lord, you have given us this beautiful world. You have given us the ability to harvest its products for our nourishment. Yet we have gone further. In our greed we are robbing future generations, poisoning your world and destroying many of your creatures. Make us come to our senses, Lord, and to know that we interfere with your world at our peril. It is your hand, not ours, that rules your world, for you created the universe and we are here on earth as your servants.
Monday 9 th August.
Fossil fuel projects represent 94% of the World Bank's energy portfolio and renewables a mere 6%. It commissioned a report, now published, which concludes:
“The Bank should phase out investments in oil production by 2008, the year of the first commitment period under the Kyoto Protocol, and devote its limited resources to investments in emissions-reducing projects, clean energy technology, energy efficiency and conservation, and other efforts to de-link energy use from greenhouse gas emissions. During this phasing-out period, investments in oil should be exceptional, limited only to poor countries with few alternatives.”
The World Bank has now publicly rejected these conclusions.
Tuesday 10 th August.
A report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution titled “Biomass as a Renewable Energy Source” advocates the conversion of agricultural land into growing energy crops and urges the Government to set up a “Biomass Infrastructure Scheme” in order to “improve farmers' access to markets and to boost investor confidence in the sector.” It says there is already enough biomass in the form of forestry products, straw, chicken litter and municipal green waste to leave little excuse for government inaction. The report proposes a Renewable Heat Obligation which would require suppliers of gas, oil and electricity to supply a given proportion of their heat from renewable sources by a set date. Using biomass to produce both heat and power can raise the efficiency of the process from 30% to 80%. Sawdust pellets are widely used abroad. Now the British Pellet Club has been formed to develop the market for pellet appliances. To read the report visit: www.RCEP.org.uk/bioreport.htm
Wednesday 11 th August.
The Government's Sustainable Communities Plan embraces 120,00 new homes in the Thames Gateway development east of London . At least 50% of building land in the Gateway is already Government-owned, so providing a unique opportunity to specify the kind of low-carbon development that has made Sutton's BedZED scheme such a landmark. In-house power generation – transferring power from a rooftop wind turbine to a ground-source heat pump, for example – would add 30% to the cost of 100 BedZED-type homes, but when 5,000 such homes are built, supply-chain efficiencies cancel out the premium. If just 3% of all UK homes were designed to BedZED standards, the price differential would disappear altogether.
Thursday 12 th August.
Under the Government's Building Schools for the Future programme, all secondary schools in England are to be rebuilt or renovated within 10-15 years, many of them under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). If the Government specified the need for in-house power generation, the extra cost would be recouped by massively-reduced energy bills well within the 30-year period for which PFI contractors expect to be operating the schools. Like any investment, it would be a case of short-term pain for long-term gain. If Government is serious about developing a secure and sustainable energy policy, then micro-CHP boilers, mini-wind turbines and PV arrays will become familiar household fixtures. A clear Government commitment would create the incentive that developers need to install them on a large scale. The more ambitious the strategy, the quicker and bigger the payback.
Friday 13 th August.
The Rural Energy Trust (RET) set up by farmer Richard Harvey has installed over a dozen woodchip heating systems in local schools and businesses in the East Midlands. RET boilers use the sawdust and thinnings from sawmills, furniture workshops and forestry management. The wood waste is compressed into pellet form. It is a carbon-friendly system in that new tree growth will soak up at least as much CO2 as is emitted through combustion. By 2008 RET plans to have over 500 woodchip or pellet heating systems in operation, fired by an annual production of 30,000 tonnes of fuel from local woodlands and energy crops such as willow, providing employment for 80 people. Everywhere in the countryside there is a surplus of waste wood, so there is massive potential for farmers on the lookout for commercially viable crop. For more information visit: www.ruralenergy.co.uk or ring 01664 454989.
Saturday 14 th August.
Micro-hydro has none of the impacts of huge dams which seal up rivers and play havoc with downstream ecosystems. Rather than dam a whole river, villagers dig a narrow channel along a hillside. Once the height difference is big enough, the water from the channel is sent rushing down a pipe and into a powerhouse, producing up to 50 kW of power – enough to light hundreds of homes. Over 180 micro-hydro plants have been installed in Pakistan's Chitral province by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme. Villagers contribute around 40% of the costs, mostly in the form of labour, and choose a committee to run the scheme.
In Kenya, ITDG provides even smaller hydro plants to the villages around Mt. Kenya for an installation fee of around £40 and a monthly bill of less than £1. Output may be tiny (just 1.3 kW) but the benefits are huge. One villager says: “I save money which I once spent on kerosene and batteries. I can listen to the radio for longer and my children carry on their studies after dark.” Both schemes have gained Ashden Awards.
Sunday 15 th August.
Father God, we thank you for the wonder and beauty of your creation. Forgive us that we have ruthlessly exploited it in so many ways contrary to your will. Teach us to tread lightly on your world, so that our love for you is faithfully mirrored in our love for your creation.
Monday 16 th August.
A survey of 912 intending homebuyers by CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment), HBOS plc and WWF reveals that 87% of them want to know whether the homes are environment-friendly, 84% are willing to pay an extra 2% for an eco-home, and 66% say they are not given sufficient information on the technical specifications of a new home. Their top concerns are:
Improved levels of energy efficiency;
Lower running costs;
Enhanced air quality and daylight;
Use of low-allergy, environmentally-friendly materials;
The Government's Home Sellers' Information Pack is not due out until 2006. CABE's new Home Buyer's Guide offers practical advice on what to look for in terms of design, sustainability, materials, space and light, location and neighbourhood. Says Robin Nicholson, CABE Commissioner: “If you are buying a car, you get any number of specifications allowing you to make easy comparisons on fuel consumption and value for money. We should get exactly the same quality of information on the environmental performance of our homes.”
According to the Environment Agency, rainwater could replace 55% of treated water in domestic use and 85% in commerce and industry. All it takes is a tank and a pump. A system developed for low-rise multiple-occupancy buildings is being trialled at Cranfield University, where the water that comes out of showers, washing machines and kitchen sinks is filtered through gravel and aquatic plants. The resulting water can then be used for irrigating gardens or flushing loos, saving the 8 litres of water a day that we use to flush the loo. Water works UK believes the system is ideal for urban developments. “You need a certain amount of roof space and installation costs are around £60 a person.” The only problem is the present lack of financial incentive for developers to include a rainwater system in new buildings. For more information ring Water Works UK on 020 8888 7529 or visit www.wwuk.co.uk
Wednesday 18 th August.
According to biologists at Leeds University, by growing crops and trees together, farmers would get more productivity per hectare. Fast-growing trees such as poplars take nutrients and water from deeper levels than crops such as winter cereals. Cereals need lots of light in spring, but less when the trees come into leaf. After ten years under poplars, crop yields fall and the land would then be grazed until the poplars were harvested at about 25 years. The research, called “Silvoarable Forestry for Europe” aims to persuade policymakers that agroforestry is not only good for farmers and wildlife, but helps to lock up CO2 . For further information, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.agroforestry.ac.uk
Thursday 19 th August.
A study for DEFRA estimates that if Government plans for a million new homes in the South-East are approved, they would require an area of 192,000 acres, i.e. half the size of Greater London. The report adds that if the homes were built, it would result in the UK's domestic missions of CO2 rising by almost 20% in the next 12 years. Does this Government really believe that, in the words of the Prime Minister, “Climate change is the biggest problem facing the world”?
Friday 20 th August.
In May the Canadian Supreme Court narrowly backed the view that GM plants appearing fortuitously on land belonging to farmer Percy Schmeiser were the rightful property of the Monsanto Corporation which owned the patent. Percy escaped the claim for damages on a technicality, but the way is now clear for Monsanto to claim ownership and litigate against any farmer unfortunate enough to be downwind of GM crops. In the same week as the Canadian Supreme Court decision, Monsanto paid for advertisements in Mexican newspapers warning peasant campesinos that any GM soya found growing on their land would lead to prosecution, and encouraging the campesinos to report on their neighbours. Percy has now joined local organic farmers in a suit against Monsanto claiming damages for the GM contamination that has destroyed their seed varieties and markets.
Saturday 21 st August.
2004, the UN International Year of Rice, has been declared by the Food & Agriculture Organisation as “an opportunity to celebrate and promote the ecological, social and cultural diversity of rice-based production systems as a prism through which key global concerns can be addressed.”
The FAO no longer talks about biodiversity or farmers' rights and livelihoods. Instead it has given a free hand to Monsanto to release into the environment its GM rice varieties in the same country (Vietnam) where its notorious Agent Orange and Agent Blue were sprayed over rice fields to destroy the people's basic food supply. The FAO is supporting a corporate takeover of rice, the staple food of more than half the world's population. Any farmer who wants to keep rice free of corporate patents, to protect rice because it is his life, now faces a new kind of battle. A petition, signed by more than 100,000 citizens from 90 countries, and by 544 organisations representing 48 million people, has been delivered to the WTO, protesting against US efforts to force the EU countries to accept GM foods. For more information visit: www.bite-back.org/
Sunday 22 nd August.
Father, we thank you for the world we live in, for the food you provide and for the abundance of its store. Help us to look after nature, to watch it and to learn from it. Weed out all in our lives that hinders peace, so that your kingdom may be spread through us, and that we may be channels of your peace.
Monday 23 rd August.
The New Economics Foundation, in partnership with the Ashden Trust, has produced a report entitled “The price of power: poverty, climate change, the coming energy crisis and the renewable revolution.” Although the scale of government subsidies to fossil fuel industries is hard to assess, a conservative estimate, based on a combination of sources, is $235 billion a year in the late 1990s. That is more than four times the total amount of aid given in a year. According to the G8 Renewable Energy Taskforce, only 1-3% of the $40 billion a year spent on energy investment in developing countries goes towards renewables. Subsidies for fossil fuels, says the report, in an age of climate change is “like lending money to drug addicts to fuel their life-destroying habit.”
Tuesday 24 th August.
Joanna Blythman in a new book called “Shopped: the shocking power of British supermarkets” reports that British shoppers spend £7,000 a minute on supermarket shopping, three times more than any other country in Europe. In the 1950s supermarkets controlled just 20% of Britain's grocery sales: now they control 80% and are hungry for more. One reviewer, after describing the book, asks:
“Do I really want to give any more of my money to an institution responsible for the death of British agriculture, the demise of local communities, the poisoning of our countryside, the reduction of animals to units of intensively-farmed meat and the debasing of a workforce into underpaid and garishly-uniformed automata?”
Wednesday 25 th August.
The Governments Rural Strategy 2004 proposals spell the effective abolition of English Nature as the official watchdog on efforts to protect wildlife and natural habitats. It will be absorbed into a new body charged with addressing all rural issues, including economic ones. Regional Development Agencies, unelected quangoes, will be given more say in rural development, such as sponsoring development schemes regardless of any damaging environmental effects. FoE calls for a full public consultation before these proposals are put into effect, in order to ensure that the new body is properly staffed and funded so as to deliver more and better biodiversity.
Thursday 26 th August.
Every year around 100,000 albatrosses are killed by longline fishing. Longlines can be up to 80 miles long, with several thousand hooks, each baited with squid. Most longlines are made of monofilament nylon to make them invisible to fish. At least 33 nations have longline fleets, which number more than 500 boats. Besides albatrosses, scientists estimate that in the Pacific alone longlining catches every year 3.7 million sharks, 422,000 marlin, 41,500 sea turtles, 2,000 dolphins and 1,500 whales. The mortality occurs before the longlines sink to their proper depth of 200 metres. A University of Washington study finds that coloured streamers scare birds away from the lines. In addition, weights attached to the lines could make them sink faster. Dyeing the bait blue also deters birds. Again, since albatrosses feed by day, the lines could easily be set only at night. A petition to stamp out pirate fishing boats can be signed at www.forest-bird.org.nz/petition
Friday 27 th August.
Pacific salmon populations have until now been protected by environmental laws which forbid logging and commercial development of their river habitats. Now the US Administration has ruled that farmed salmon be included with wild salmon in determining the protection status of salmon under the Endangered Species Act. As one biologist put it, “This is like counting zoo animals when considering the health of a species.” US scientists advising the Administration say that in-bred hatchery fishes can never replenish losses among the 26 species of wild salmon now threatened with extinction. It is feared that this change will, in time, allow loggers and commercial interests generally to exploit the salmon rivers on the ground that salmon numbers, though mostly farmed, are now secure.
Saturday 28 th August.
This summer, the USA has launched its first weapon into outer space. A test satellite called N-Fire has been launched to gather data on the exhaust fumes of rockets in space – information needed to help space weapons to distinguish between a target and its trailing plume. N-Fire carries a projectile which can destroy passing missiles or the satellites of military or commercial rivals. The US nuclear industry, which has received no orders since the Three-Mile Island accident in 1979, looks at space as a new area of business. All this flies in the face of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which the USA helped to initiate, and which sets space aside “for peaceful purposes.”
Sunday 29 th August.
Father, we live in a world where thing have gone badly wrong because we have forgotten you and left you out of account. We have worshipped other gods and have not hallowed your Name. We have adopted our own way of life and have not served your Kingdom. We have chosen what pleases us and have not done your will. Lord, forgive us our sin and folly and blindness. Turn us back to yourself, for the sake of your Son, the only Saviour of the world. (Frank Colquhoun)
Monday 30 th August.
The Oxford Research Group (ORG) reports that three factors have seriously weakened the international framework for containing the spread of nuclear weapons:
The adoption by the US of a unilateral security stance as part of its counter-proliferation policy;
The failure of the nuclear powers to fulfil their obligations to nuclear disarmament under Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT);
The fact that North Korea and Iran have violated their obligations as signatories to the NPT by undertaking nuclear programmes.
Next May the NPT Review Conference will take place in New York. ORG is disseminating discussion papers to the delegates, focusing on:
new nuclear weapon developments;
strengthening International Atomic Energy Authority safeguards;
problems presented by global stockpiles of separated civil plutonium.
Pray for all who are working to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. For further details of ORG, visit: www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk
Tuesday 31 st August.
The Chancellor, Gordon Brown, has postponed indefinitely a previously-announced increase in fuel duty. Yet the Government's Transport White Paper, published only last month, states that one of the most effective ways of reducing carbon emissions is through measures affecting the cost of fuel.
FoE comments: “This decision reveals a failure of joined-up environmental thinking right at the heart of Government. On the day that Ministers admitted that heir transport policies had failed and that traffic levels will continue to increase on Britain's roads, Gordon Brown has broken a promise to implement one of the few incentives designed to get drivers out of their cars. Brown is pouring cheap oil n the fires of environmental destruction for short-term political gain.”
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