CEL Conf. 2004:
Operation Noah Launch
9 Oct Coventry

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October 2004


“He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities.

All things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. . .

For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” ( Col. 1.15-17.19-20)

“The touch of Christ is on creation and his purpose is moulded into it. If you could split open creation, you would find imprinted into it, like a watermark, ‘Made by him and for him'. If it doesn't work for him, it works towards its own ruin.” (Selwyn Hughes)

“Hope is definitely not the same thing as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense regardless of how it turns out. It is Hope, above all, which gives the strength to live and ontinually try new things.” (Vaclav Havel)

Friday 1 st October.

The Web of Hope is a not-for-profit website devoted to collecting and publishing role models for sustainable practices. Topics include transport, habitats, energy, water, economics, biodiversity, organizations, food, health, oceans, peace and education. For more information write to: The Web of Hope, Suite 256 , 3 Edgar Buildings , Bath BA1 2FJ or visit: www.thewebofhope.com

Saturday 2 nd October.

“Rising Tides: A History of the Environmental Revolution and Visions for an Ecological Age” by Rory Spowers, a founder member of The Web of Hope, tracks the split between Man and Nature that opened up in the 16 th century and led to the mechanistic and reductionist technologies of today. He dispels the myth that sustainability entails a return to an age of deprivation and suffering. He outlines a new model which recognizes that humanity is as much a part of Nature as any other organism. As Schumacher put it, “Modern man talks of a war with nature, forgetting that if he won the battle, he would find himself on the losing side.”

Sunday 3 rd October.

Father, as we read and see daily in our newspapers and television programmes the devastation caused by the selfish promotion of political and economic ideologies, we pray earnestly for a change of heart among the nations and for a massive diversion of human resources towards the relief of human suffering and the restoration of your world.

Monday 4 th October.

According to a new report from CITES, more than 4,000 elephants a year are being killed to meet the demand for ivory from Africa and Asia . The situation is particularly bad in Central Africa where elephants are threatened by poaching. China , followed by Thailand , Cameroon , the DRC, Ethiopia and Nigeria are chiefly implicated as suppliers, manufacturers and customers of illegal ivory. The report declares that corruption and lack of law enforcement of domestic ivory markets in Africa and Asia are fuelling the thriving international trade. Demand from China is the prime reason for the global rise in illegal trade since 1995, while Thailand 's laws are totally inadequate to tackle the country's thriving ivory trade.

Tuesday 5 th October.

At this week's CITES meeting in Bangkok , Kenya is proposing a ban on trophy hunting of lions. Hunting is allowed in 13 of Africa 's 32 lion-range states and in 2002 trophy hunters killed 517 lions. There are now some 23,000 lions left in Africa . Some blame the reduction in numbers on lion lentivirus, a feline version of AIDS that is widespread through Africa .

Wednesday 6 th October.

David Pimentel, Professor of Ecology & Agricultural Science at Cornell University , estimates that each person in the USA requires 1.9 hectares of cropland and pasture for their food needs, while someone in China requires only 0.4 has. because of the primarily vegetarian diet. Moreover, current agricultural practices are destroying America 's topsoil 18 times faster than it can be replenished and farmers depend more and more on artificial fertilizers to fill the gap. Corn cultivation is the prime cause of erosion: it uses more fertilizer than any other crop and it is the biggest user of insecticides and herbicides. Moreover, just as bacteria are evolving faster than antibiotics, and insects faster than insecticides, so are weed plants evolving faster than herbicides, so that more and more herbicide is needed to kill them each year. “You may drive out nature with a pitchfork” wrote Horace, “yet she'll be constantly running back.”

Thursday 7 th October.

Landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson of the Earth Policy Institute (EPI) writes that most of the world's land that can be farmed for rice, wheat or corn is already being used. From 1950 to 1981 the area under grain expanded from 587 million hectares to 732 million, but by 2000 it had fallen to 656 million has. The FAO in 2002 concluded that world grain production would have to rise by 1.2% a year to meet the needs of a growing population. Since we already use all the available cropland, the increase can only come from existing arable land. The latest FAO report predicts for 2004 the biggest ever grain harvest (1,956 million tonnes) but warns that even this level of output cannot keep pace with consumption, so causing a 5 th consecutive year of drawing on global reserves of cereals, which are now at their lowest level ever recorded – well below the 70 days' supply needed for world food security. Comments Lester Brown of the EPI “There has been the odd bad year or two in the past, but this is the first time in history that we have had such an extended period where the world has failed to feed itself.”

Friday 8 th October.

In China the grain harvest has fallen in four of the past five years. In 2003 it grew 70 million tons less than in 1998 – a drop that equals the entire annual production of Canada . The reasons for the fall include soil erosion through over-cultivation and the lack of groundwater needed to irrigate the crops, due to lowering of the water table. If China has to start importing grain, its massive needs will increase scarcity and force up prices everywhere.

Saturday 9 th October

In Coventry today the Rainbow Pilgrimage for Climate Justice will begin at 9.45 with a conference in the Methodist Central Hall, to be addressed by Sir John Houghton FRS, Aubrey Meyer of the Global Commons Institute, John Cridland of the CBI and Trewin Restorick of the Global Action Plan. At 1.50 the Rainbow Procession will set off through the city centre to the Cathedral, where at 2.30 there will be a special service led by Bishop John Oliver. For further details ring 01524 36241 or 01949 861516 or visit www.christian-ecology.org.uk

Sunday 10 th October.

Spirit of truth and judgement, who alone can exorcise the powers that grip our world; at the point of crisis give us your discernment, that we may accurately name what is evil, and know the way that leads to peace through Jesus Christ. Amen. (Operation Noah prayer)

Monday 11 th October.

According to Lester Brown, aquifers are being depleted in scores of countries, including China , India and the USA . Under the North China Plain, which produces more than half China 's wheat and a third of its corn, the annual drop in the water table has increased from an average of 1.5 metres in the 1990s to up to 3 metres today. In the USA the water table has dropped by more than 30 metres in parts of Texas , Oklahoma and Kansas – three grain-producing states. This “mining” of finite freshwater supplies is invisible to most of us until the wells start to run dry. Then it is too late.

Tuesday 12th October.

Today Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, will give the 3 rd Greenpeace Business Lecture at pm at the Royal Society of Arts, London . The subject: “Global Warming: the imperatives for action.” Sir David has already warned us of the dangers of global warming and has stated that climate change is a greater threat to our planet than terrorism. The question is: How can Britain achieve its stated object of reducing carbon emissions by 60% by 2050? To what extent can we rely on market forces?

Wednesday 13 th October.

In 1994, 179 countries represented at the Cairo Conference on Population and Development agreed on a range of measures to reduce population growth, such as improving the lives of young women by better schooling and health, as well as increasing the availability of contraceptives. The rate of population growth has slightly eased, but the world has provided less than half the funds needed to implement the plan. Now the Bush Administration has cut off America 's contribution to the UN Population Fund and crippled national programmes because of its opposition to abortion.

Thursday 14th October.

Today the European Social Forum meets in London for a 3-day event “for all who want to see global justice, healthy democracies and sustainable societies.” This is a follow-up to the World Social Forum held at Porto Alegre , Brazil , in 2001. The main venues are Alexandra Palace and various sites in Bloomsbury . Among the 162 seminars, 24 are to be held on global justice and 19 on the environment. For more details e-mail: ukesfoffice@gn.apc.org or visit: www.fse-esf.org

Friday 15 th October.

“If we in the developed world do not agree to substantially restrict our carbon dioxide emissions, there can be only one of two outcomes, both of them utterly indefensible. Either we will have to witness and bear the costs of an inevitable and devastating intensification of the problems caused by climate change – as well as the burden on our consciences – or poorer people, mainly those living in developing countries, will have to be prevented from having their fair share of the fossil fuels required to maintain even a basic standard of living. Burying our heads in the sand on this topic to avoid facing reality cannot continue.” (Mayer Hillman & Tina Fawcett in “How We Can Save the Planet – publ. Penguin ISBN 0-141-01692-2)

Saturday 16 th October.

Analysis of conflicts in Rwanda , Palestine and now Dharfur reveals similarities. Superficially they are religious or tribal conflicts, but in all three a deeper cause is competition for productive land. Dr. William Stanton in his book “The Rapid Growth of Human Populations 1750-2000” argues that such conflicts will become so common, as populations grow and resources shrink, that peacekeepers and compassionate aid will become ineffective. What then? The UN does not expect world population to stabilize until it has risen from today's 6.4 billion to 9 billion. The percentage of world population living in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 5.1% in 1970 to 7% in 2000. During the same period the developed world's percentage dropped from 28.9% to 20.8%. So, while the poverty problem is increasing, the proportion of world population that can do something about it is getting smaller. The 1994 Cairo conference spelt out the measures required to slow the rate of increase in human population. The developed world has so far been reluctant to provide the money.

Sunday 17 th October.

Lord Jesus, you have called us to be your witnesses on earth. Help us to proclaim, by word and deed, the message of your love to all humankind, and to declare your lordship over creation and our responsibility as your disciples.

Monday 18 th October.

According to “Seven Steps to Justice”, a new book by Rodney Shakespeare and Canon Peter Challen, 97% of our money is created out of nothing by the private banking system, which just presses computer buttons and then adds interest. But, say the authors, when a government needs to provide money for big capital expenditure, such as a hospital, there is nothing to stop it creating the money itself without interest, instead of borrowing it from the private banking system, and then over time collecting the money back in taxes in the usual way. The interest-free element would reduce the money needed for capital projects by at least half and, since the total amount of capital expenditure is not increased, the system is not inflationary. In the USA some 3,400 governmental authorities, including six state governments, have supported the idea, but it is always blocked by lobbyists in Congress.

Tuesday 19 th Ocober.

Rory Spowers in “Rising Tide” writes that the biggest challenge to sustainability is the current practice of rewarding polluters of the planet with subsidies and tax incentives. A poll by tax advisers Stoy Hayward found that more than 50% of respondents favoured a tax on disposable nappies and plastic bags, 40% wanted more tax on pesticides, 33% wanted a financial deterrent on aerosols and a tax on takeaways. However, as long as we continue to assess our prosperity by GDP, which merely measures the speed at which we turn resources into rubbish, true sustainability will remain a dream.

Wednesday 20 th October.

H.J. Massingham's book “The Tree of Life”, newly re-issued, opens with a study of “The Rural Christ”, whose parables celebrated the eternal, elemental simplicities in which all peaceful and creative life must be rooted. The Celtic Church was equally close to the natural world, but gradually the Church embraced philosophies which separated the spiritual from nature and conceived nature as a malign power which needed to be tamed, dominated and controlled. Massingham believed the Church's decline to be indissolubly linked to its loss of concern for the natural world and its failure to challenge the economic system. The Church, he believed, needed to recover a belief in both the goodness of creation and the limits posed by the God-given natural order.

Thursday 21 st October.

“Strangely Like War” by Derrick Jensen and George Draffan shows how the apathy for real thinking and learning in so many of our schools can become a destructive force when the business interests of multinationals meet the natural world. The majority of those out of power do nothing, those in power have learned not to care, while those carrying out the destruction develop a warrior's brutality. Much of current deforestation is the result of simple illegality. Environmental laws are flouted, smuggling, fudging accounts, falsifying papers, imprisoning or assassinating those who protest against illegal logging – all these are par for the course. Globalisation equals power in the hands of we know not who, we know not where. Localisation means you know, you decide and you suffer the consequences of any wrong decisions. It also empowers people to prevent the devastation of the forests for the need, or greed, of people from another continent. A powerful book.

Friday 22 nd October.

A WWF-sponsored Act of Parliament, the Sustainable and Secure Buildings Act, has recently become law. It will enable the Government to tackle the harmful effects of homes and other buildings on the environment. It can require the use of recycled or reclaimed building materials and of timber sourced from certified well-managed forests. However, the new powers cannot be used until they are incorporated in new building regulations, which are urgently required.

Saturday 23 rd October.

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), the Government's wildlife watchdog, has stripped seven of Scotland 's National Nature Reserves of their status, partly because of lack of management by landlords (one had supposed SNH was responsible) and partly owing to over-grazing by deer (is SNH not responsible for deer control?). The seven include the 11,000 hectare Inverpolly Reserve near Ullapool. Britain 's biggest reserve, the Cairngorms NNR, is also under consideration, together with the Rannoch Moor NNR. Dr. Derek Ratcliffe, former chief scientist at the Nature Conservancy Council, describes this process as “a placatory gesture towards the rednecks who demanded that SNH sweep away the dross of indiscriminate conservation in Scotland .” He added: “Some sites listed are some of the finest examples in Britain . They were meant as a gesture to the conservation of nature in its own right. . . The ethos of setting aside areas for preservation in perpetuity is being lost.

Sunday 24 th October.

Father God, please teach us:

Sensitivity towards your creation;
Simplicity in the way we live;
Appreciation of the connectedness of all things on earth;
Respect for the lives of all living creatures.
Help us to turn from our arrogant ways and to seek your face.
Redeem us, redeem your world, heal its wounds and dry its tears, for the sake of your dear Son, who died that we might live.

Monday 25 th October.

“Reefs at Risk in the Caribbean ”, a study by the World Resources Institute, confirms fears for the future of coral reefs in the area. 64% of them are threatened by coastal development, over-fishing, pollution from rivers and waste discharges from boats and oil installations. Coral bleaching, a stress response to warming oceans, is becoming more widespread. Forest clearance and intensification of agriculture has led to soil erosion and the release of sediments which can smother corals. Less than 20% of the region's sewage is properly treated, adding to coastal pollution. Yet in Florida , reef-related tourism generates $228 million a year, giving the reefs an estimated value of $76 billion. If a proportion of this income can be used for good management of threatened reefs, they have the capacity to recover. This could be an example for others to follow – a rare example of the benefits of tourism.

Tuesday 26 th October.

The EU Fisheries Commissioner has rejected a British request to close the winter bass fishery in the English Channel and Western Approaches, despite the deaths of hundreds of dolphins last winter off the West Country coasts. The EU Commission said the decision was based on scientific evidence presented by Britain , but others accuse it of caving in to pressure from France .

Wednesday 27 th October.

Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, marine biologists Andrew Balmford and Callum Roberts say that taking 20-30% of every marine habitat out of commercial exploitation would be relatively cheap in relation to the enormous benefits. Marine reserves now account for 0.5% of our seas and oceans. Raising this to 30% would give battered ecosystems enough scope for recovery and would cost less than £8 billion. This would underwrite “ecosystem services” worth nearly 50 times as much – namely, the threatened extinction of some fisheries, the value of coral reefs in preventing coastal erosion, the natural treatment of marine waste and the production of oxygen by plankton. The project would cost less than is already being spent on subsidizing commercial fisheries and it would create over a million jobs. The article is available on: www.pnas.org

Thursday 28 th October.

Spain 's Ebro Delta – one of Europe 's most important wetlands and home to flamingos, herons and oystercatchers, as well as being an important staging post for many migrants – has been saved from destruction by the new Spanish Government of Jose Zapatero. The plans have been scrapped to divert water from Spain 's longest river via a 1,000 kilometre pipeline from the fertile north-east to irrigate crops in the arid south.

Friday 29 th October.

Prime Minister Tony Blair has warned us that climate change is the biggest threat that the world faces. Yet the Government's Solar PV Major Demonstration Programme and its Clear Skies Programme are due to be wound down earlier than planned. MDP was forecast to deliver 9 MW of energy by 2005 (enough for 3,000 domestic roofs). This would have risen to 200 MW by 2012 if the full programme had been implemented. Yet 150 MW of solar PV was installed in Germany last year alone and another 200 MW is expected this year. In Britain , with no substitute programme in sight, the solar PV industry is left with a vacuum of orders and we run the risk of losing it altogether.

Saturday 30 th October.

The TETRA police communication system (see entry for 18 th September) has been described by an independent scientist in a report for the Police Federation as “likely to cause more civilian deaths than all the world's terrorist organizations put together.” These are some of the possible effects predicted in the report:

•  The good work of the hormone melatonin at night will be restricted, leading to suppression of the immune system;

•  It could enhance breast cancer in lady police officers;

•  There could be long-term damage to the eyes of officers using TETRA;

•  I am particularly concerned for the acutely sensitive brains and organs of police dogs;

•  TETRA may be used in areas where children are running around, and there are well-known and documented cases of pulse radiation affecting epileptic children

•  Because TETRA affects the beta rhythm of the brain, it will affect what the beta rhythm is responsible for, namely sound judgement in emergency situations.

The full report can be read at: www.planningsanity.co.uk/reports/trower.htm


Sunday 31 st October.

Gracious God, we give you thanks for all your gifts:

For the universe: let our wonder grow.

For this world: teach us better stewardship of earth, sea and sky.

For people everywhere: let us see your image in every human face, discern your hand in every human culture, and hear your voice in the silence as well as in the talk of neighbours and friends. For our Saviour, Jesus Christ, is at work in your world. (A prayer from Australia )

Sources of information:

Green Christian
Green Futures
Jackdaw (Optimum Population Trust)
The Ecologist
Positive News
World Review

For further information and prayer request please email: pcw@christian-ecology.org.uk
or write to:
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN4 OSY

Copyright © 2001-2008 Philip Clarkson Webb and Christian Ecology Link

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