“Lord, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known;
“God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness.
Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees!
“The work of praying is prerequisite to all other work in the kingdom of God, for the simple reason that it is by prayer that we couple the powers of heaven to our own helplessness.”
Wednesday 1 st September.
The Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, Sir David King, has said that the last time CO2 levels in the atmosphere were at current levels of over 370 ppm was about 60 million years ago, when there was a rapid period of global warming with levels rising to over 1000 ppm. As a result, no ice was left on earth and Antarctica was probably the best place for mammals to live. Sir David will give the 3 rd Greenpeace Business lecture at the Royal Society of Arts, London, on 12 th October. The lecture will focus on the science of global warming and the need for action.
Thursday 2 nd September.
In the 2 nd Greenpeace Business lecture last May, the President of the World Bank, James Wolfensohn, said that the share of renewable energy in total global energy use was about 2% and current estimates say that in 15 years it could get to 3%. He agreed that without funding, the renewable revolution would not happen. (Last year the World Bank invested $2.5 billion in fossil fuel projects and a mere $150 million on renewables – far less than it spent in the late 1990s) In the interests of the 2.3 billion people who have no electricity and continue to degrade forests for cooking and heating, he claimed that there was no immediate alternative than to provide energy from coal, oil and gas, and to invest in scrubbers to limit CO2 emissions. Finally, he referred to a lack of any sense of moral, ethical or spiritual values. “Young people are turned off by the lack of universal values, soul-searching for something they can believe in and not finding it in any current political leadership.” Where are Christians in this situation? Where are other major world religions? Has universal consumerism taken over where religion formerly reigned?
Friday 3 rd September.
The World Bank's Extractive Industries Review of investment in oil, gas and mining projects recommended that the Bank:
Phase out lending for oil and coal by 2008;
Not lend for extractive projects in scientific or spiritual areas or places of civil unrest;
Ensure free prior and informed consent of affected communities;
Invest much more in renewable energy.
The UK Government, a major shareholder in the World Bank, has now issued a position paper describing the World Bank's response to the Review as “insufficient”. It adds: “The World Bank needs to make a greater and more urgent commitment to renewable energy, cleaner energy technologies, natural gas and improved energy efficiency.”
Saturday 4 th September.
Pan Yu, a senior Chinese minister, speaking at an intergovernmental meeting on renewable energy, said that from 1990 to 2001 China's oil consumption increased by 100%, natural gas consumption by 93% and steel consumption by 143%. If all China's 1.3 billion people changed their bicycles for cars, consumption of petrol would rise from 5.46 million barrels a day to 81 million barrels a day – far more than the total oil consumption of the whole world. “We cannot ignore the environmental problems caused by this growth – overconsumption of resources, mountains of waste, pollution and damage to our environment. Those who continue taking the road of traditional industrialization will come to a deadlock. We must explore a new and sustainable road of eco-friendly technology.” China's Renewable Energy Action Plan aims to increase its installed renewable capacity to 60 GW, i.e. about 75% of the UK's entire electricity generation, so as to form 10% of its total generating capacity.
Sunday 5 th September.
We thank you, Lord, for all your gifts:
For the world you have made and for strength to serve you in it;
For daily revelations of yourself in nature, art and in human lives;
For the Bible through which you speak your word to us;
For all other books which open our minds to your truth;
For the tasks to which you are calling us.
May your Spirit dwell richly in us, enabling us to serve you with gladness all the days of our life; in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Monday 6 th September.
The Government's Energy White Paper concluded that “technologies such as onshore and offshore wind and biomass are potentially the most cost-effective ways of limiting carbon emissions in the UK .” Yet the Government has not ruled out the option of building more nuclear power stations, despite the unsolved problems of waste disposal, the risks from terrorism and the running down of world supplies of uranium. Greenpeace comments: “Instead of pouring money into the failed nuclear option, governments should be investing in production and distribution systems that will enable us to store the energy from intermittent renewables such as wind and wave.”
Tuesday 7 th September.
Environmentalists are sometimes said to be “anti-science”. Yet science has always been shaped by values and interests. Is it wiser to pretend that there are “scientific” or “technical” solutions to global problems that are separate from social, political or religious beliefs – or honestly to acknowledge the particular values and interests which drive the science? “The dressing-up of economic and political agendas as if they were determined purely by science undermines the integrity of science. Truly rational debates about science and technology require not name-calling or denial, but humility and openness about the crucial role played by subjective interests and values.” (Sue Meyer)
Wednesday 8 th September.
The first of a series of dialogues and seminars at the St. Paul's Institute in London on “The World We Live In” takes place today from 6.30 to 8 p.m. Entitled “How should the world be governed?” the event takes the form of a dialogue between Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Owen, former Foreign Secretary, and Philip Bobbitt, Professor of Constitutional Law at the University of Texas. Further dialogues with Dr. Williams take place on the 15 th , 21 st and 30 th . Entry is free. For further details visit www.stpauls.co.uk
Thursday 9 th September.
According to Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, “New discoveries pose new ethical choices. Scientists have an obligation to debate these changes with society and a special responsibility for where their work might lead.”
Scientists for Global Responsibility is an independent UK organization of scientists committed to ethical science and technology, working to make science and technology more open and accountable and to contribute better to peace, social justice and environmental sustainability. Its research is uncovering ways in which the military and big business exert power in science and technology. Its lobbying has drawn attention to the benefits of renewable energy, the threat of nuclear terrorism and flaws in safety assessments of GM crops. For details write to: SGR, PO Box 473 , Folkestone , Kent CT20 1GS .
Friday 10 th September.
The EU Emissions Trading Scheme allows each country to produce a plan showing how allowances for carbon emissions will be allocated among its power installations. The UK plan shows CO2 savings for high energy use sectors to be 5.5 million tonnes for 2005-2007, but ILEX, an energy consultant, in a report commissioned by WWF, shows the potential for savings within the UK power sector of 48.2 million tonnes over the same period. Stricter limits on CO2 emissions, and therefore higher prices, would penalize Britain 's inefficient coal-fired power stations for their high CO2 emissions and so promote investment in cleaner forms of electricity generation.
Saturday 11 th September.
New planning guidance from the Government now enables local authorities to require new developments to use on-site renewable energy sources for a proportion of their energy. It also requires all developments to be considered in the light of impacts on important wildlife and conservation sites.
Yet, as FoE points out, these are small steps in the promotion of renewable energy. Joined-up thinking is required across the whole range of Government departments (especially the Treasury) in order to cut CO2 emissions and to promote renewable energy.
Sunday 12 th September.
Father, we thank you at this harvest time for creating this wonderful world and for giving us the task of caring for it. Forgive us when the way we live denies our calling. Have mercy on us and our planet. Fill us daily with your grace, that we may always remember that we are here as your stewards, who will one day be asked for our account.
Monday 13 th September.
A new report from Parliament's Environmental Audit Committee reveals that CO2 emissions are still rising and that the Government's target of a 20% reduction from 1990 levels by 2010 is unlikely to be met. It says that the Government needs a more radical strategy for tackling transport emissions and domestic energy efficiency, including an increase in fuel duty. “The Treasury must take a lead in providing investment in alternative fuels.”
Tuesday 14 th September.
B & Q, Woolworths and Robert Dyas all sell garden furniture sourced from wood that is certified by the FSC as being sustainably and non-destructively logged. By contrast, garden furniture sold by ASDA, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis is made from timber logged in the remaining rainforests of South-East Asia and, according to Greenpeace, is helping to push endangered animals such as the orang-utan and Sumatran tiger towards extinction. Much of this timber comes from Indonesia , where nearly 90% of all timber is illegally logged.
Wednesday 15 th September.
A Greenpeace report on the Swiss/German-owned Danzer Group (DG), the world's biggest producer of hardwood veneers, has published evidence of illegal logging and bribery of public officials in the Republic of Congo, as well as forgery of official documentation on the origin of its timber. DG is a member of the World Bank's CEO initiative, which brings together leading logging companies to discuss sustainable forest management. The World Bank describes corruption as “the single greatest obstacle to economic and social development.” Greenpeace comments:
African countries where DG operates must look into the evidence and prosecute offenders;
European countries must amend laws on bribery and money-laundering so as to include illegal logging;
European countries must adopt new legislation to halt the importation of illegally-sourced timber;
Companies must stop buying timber products from companies involved in illegal activities.
Thursday 16 th September.
Toxic chemicals such as brominated flame-retardants and phthalates are often used in the manufacture of television sets and mobile phones. These chemicals have been linked to liver, kidney and testicular problems. Now the electronics giant Samsung has agreed to phase out these chemicals from its products, so setting an example for electronics manufacturers all over the world.
Friday 17 th September.
Toxic chemicals commonly found in household products include nitro and polycyclic musks and phthalates. These have been linked to cancers, fertility loss and environmental damage. The Co-op has become the first UK retailer to ban them from its own-label household products. A spokesman said: “Some scientists say these chemicals present little or no risk, others say they should have been banned ages ago. We believe there is enough credible evidence against their use to avoid them, thereby giving the benefit of the doubt to consumers – especially as these chemicals are easily replaced without any discernible difference.”
Saturday 18 th September.
Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) is a communication system operated by Airwave mmO2 designed to give the emergency services a secure communications channel. Costing the taxpayer £2.9 billion, it is now operating in 39 out of 52 police forces with hundreds of masts. It has never been tested for safety anywhere. In Europe , the Tetrapol system is cheaper and, crucially, does not pulse. TETRA uses a microwave frequency of 400 Mhz and the microwaves pulse at 17.6 Hz, i.e. close to human brain wave levels. In lab. Tests Dr. Hyland of Warwick University has proved that microwaves pulsed at 17.6 Hz interfere with biochemical processes by, for example, increasing calcium leakage from brain tissue, so affecting both nervous and immune systems. They also affect bio-processes, causing damage to cells and tissue and increasing enzymes implicated in cancer promotion. Children are particularly vulnerable because of the rate at which their cells are dividing and because their thinner skulls increase the amount of radiation absorbed. 177 of the Lancashire police officers who were the first in Britain to use TETRA have reported symptoms such as migraines, sleeplessness and concentration problems. Now Sir William Steward, former Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, has warned of the potential of radio waves pulsing at 17.6 Hz to interfere with the 16 Hz of nerve electrical impulses in the brain and of potentially harmful cell changes caused by pulsing radio waves. For further information e-mail: Alison@alisonmackay.charitydays.co.uk or visit:
Watch out for any planning applications for TETRA masts in your area.
Sunday 19 th September.
Dear Father, you have given humankind matchless gifts in the realm of science and technology. Help us to understand that you alone are the source of all truth and understanding. Let us never be blinded by the lure of the market-place or tempted to put at risk the lives and health of our fellow-humans. Watch over our motives, loving Father, that we may ever give prime place to the furtherance of your kingdom. This we ask for the sake of your Son, who died that we might live.
Monday 20 th September.
In July the Supreme Court of India ordered the Government to release the remaining compensation to the victims of the 1984 Bhopal gas disaster, which left 20,000 people dead and 120,000 chronically ill. Dow Chemical, successors to Union Carbide who owned the chemical plant, paid the Indian Government $470 million compensation in 1989, but little of this has been paid to the victims. Now many of them are seeking further compensation from Dow Chemical, claiming that the original payment was totally inadequate.
Tuesday 21 st September.
The International Atomic Energy Authority, the body set up by the UN to promote nuclear power, has concluded that, even under the most favourable circumstances, nuclear power would not slow the onset of global warming. Indeed, their report predicted that the rate of global warming would decrease if no nuclear plants were built beyond those already planned. This was because “the world would have to be so prosperous to afford any significant increase in nuclear plants that greenhouse gases from fossil fuel use would have grown even faster.”
Wednesday 22 nd September.
A joint report on nanotechnology from the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering recommends that nanoparticles and nanotubes be treated as new chemicals under UK and European legislation, so as to trigger safety tests and clear labeling. They should be approved by an independent scientific safety committee before being permitted for use in consumer products such as cosmetics. Details of safety tests should be published.The report recommends that releases to the environment be minimized until the effects are better understood. The Health & Safety Executive should consider setting lower exposure levels for manufactured nanoparticles, so as to provide proper protection for lab. workers. The Government should initiate a properly-funded public dialogue at a stage when such discussions can inform key decisions about their development. What the report does not deal with are:
The existence of nanotech monopolies;
The implications of nanotech for poorer countries;
The impacts of nanotech on agriculture;
The risks inherent in a merger between nanotech and biotech companies.
The report's conclusions nevertheless more than justify the concerns expressed by Prince Charles, who was violently attacked by Lord Sainsbury for “meddling”.
Thursday 23 rd September.
The Children's Food Bill, presented to Parliament in May, aims to prevent food-related disorders through a range of measures including a ban on the sale of unhealthy food and drinks in schools and on the marketing of such products to children. The success of the Bill depends on cross-party support achieved by asking our MPs to sign Early Day Motion no.1256. For more information ring Charlie Powell of Sustain on 0207 837 1228 or visit www.childrensfoodbill.org.uk
Friday 24 th September.
The World Trade Organisation (WTO) is investigating a complaint from the USA, Canada and Argentina (the main GM-growing countries) that the EU ban on approving new GM foods is a breach of trade rules. Meanwhile, the House of Commons Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee has recommended that any future GM planting should respect the legal requirement that organic crops suffer zero contamination from GM crops – not just the 0.9% level currently being discussed.
Saturday 25 th September.
In a report to the International Geographical Union in Glasgow, Professor Andrew Goudie of the Department of Geography, Oxford University, said that his researches had shown a tenfold increase over the past 50 years in the quantity of dust being blown across the world from the Bodele Depression in Chad, the main cause being the “Toyotarisation” of the Sahara. “The world urgently needed to wake up to the potential effects of the dust crisis on climate change and the spread of respiratory illnesses and allergies. Dust is one of the least understood components of the Earth's atmosphere. In deserts across the world formerly stable surfaces have been breached by the use of 4-wheel drive vehicles, especially in the southern Sahara and the Middle East. We could soon see America's Dust Bowl disaster happening again. Wind erosion could become an increasing problem in Spain, Corsica and Sardinia. We could see dust storms becoming a serious problem around the Mediterranean.”
Sunday 26 th September.
Father, forgive us for our short-sightedness, our greed and for the part we have played, however unwittingly, in the destruction of your world. Forgive us that we have exploited the world's resources for ourselves while so many others lack the basic necessities. Create in us a new heart and a new determination, that we may adopt a lifestyle that is gentle to the earth and just to the poor.
Monday 27 th September.
Last month Greenpeace demarcated with flags the boundaries of a proposed Dogger Bank marine reserve in the North Sea, as part of a campaign to persuade European governments to declare the Dogger Bank and sixteen other areas in the North and Baltic Seas as marine reserves, which would be “off-limits” to new oil production, aggregate extraction and fishing. Greenpeace is calling for 40% of the two seas to be placed under protection. A spokesman said: “The Dogger Bank was once one of the richest fishing grounds and an important feeding ground for dolphins, porpoises and seabirds. Today the Bank is massively over-fished, while certain areas are ploughed three or four times a year by heavy “bottom trawl” nets which devastate the sea bed.”
Tuesday 28 th September.
Palm oil is a constituent of margarines, peanut butter, non-dairy ice creams, shampoos, detergents, soaps and crisps, in fact one in three of all products on supermarket shelves. Between 1995 and 2003, according to FoE, the area of Indonesia under oil palm cultivation increased by 118%. Figures from the Malaysian and Indonesian oil palm industry show that 48% of new plantations are created from the clearance of primary and secondary forest. In Indonesia alone 2 million hectares come under cultivation each year. All of us, retailers, manufacturers, importers and consumers are contributing to rainforest devastation through our purchasing patterns. Many new plantations are established on tribal lands where traditional land rights are ignored. Furthermore, 20-30% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from the burning of tropical forests. For full details visit www.foe.org.uk
Wednesday 29 th September.
WWF, though the creation of a Palm Oil Round Table, has drawn together NGOs and companies to define sustainable palm oil cultivation and to encourage key producers and buyers to sign a Statement of Intent including a commitment to cease clearance of high conservation value forests. There are now 42 signatories, including the government-owned Commonwealth Development Corporation (CDC). Anyone can write to manufacturers and retailers asking them if their palm oil comes from growers who continue to clear rainforest, and pointing out the huge loss of biodiversity involved in the clearances and the associated emissions of CO2 . Advise them to contact Rainforest Concern for details of sustainable sources of palm oil. Address: 27 Lansdowne Crescent, London W11 2NS. Tel.0207 229 2093. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.rainforestconcern.org
Thursday 30 th September.
More than 25 million tonnes of household waste are thrown away each year (over half a tonne per person) and more than 75% of it goes to landfill, creating methane gas which contributes to climate change. “Don't Throw It Away”, newly published by FoE, includes tips for cutting back on our rubbish, such as:
Send unwanted items to charity shops or boot sales;
Find a new use for items you no longer need;
Recover or restore chairs, tables and other furniture;
Repair clothes, curtains and linen;
Don't accept excess packaging. Say no to plastic bags.
Hire things you only need temporarily. Share with neighbours & friends;
Say no to disposable products such as cameras, razors and biros.
Some sources: The Ecologist
Land Heritage News
Living Earth (Soil Association)
Copyright © 2004-2008 Philip Clarkson Webb and Christian Ecology Link