If you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today –
to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart
and with all your soul – then I will send rain on your land in its season,
both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new
wine and oil. I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle,
and you will eat and be satisfied.” (Deut. 11.13-15)
“The earth dries up and withers, the world languishes and withers,
the exalted of the world languish. The earth is defiled by its people;
they have disobeyed the laws, violated the statutes and broken the everlasting covenant.” (Isaiah 24.4-5)
“Some people think of prayer as the means by which we get God to do
things for us. That is not the purpose of prayer. The primary purpose is
to bring the whole of life into the presence of God for cleansing and
decision-making.” (Selwyn Hughes)
Monday 1 st November.
Air samples collected at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, show that concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere increased by 2.08 parts per million (ppm) in 2002 and by 2.54 ppm in 2003, the first time successive years have seen an increase of more than 2 ppm. Concentrations now stand at 375 ppm as compared with an average of 270 ppm over thousands of years prior to 1700. The acceleration in the rate of increase could be due to a weakening of the earth's carbon sinks (forests, soils and plankton) associated with global warming. The exceptionally hot summer of 2003 caused a dieback of vegetation which would normally take CO2 from the atmosphere, but releases it when burnt. The anomaly underlines the uncertainties of climate prediction and the possibility of “positive feedback” accelerating the warming trend.
Tuesday 2 nd November.
The Everest glacier from which Hillary and Tenzing launched their ascent in 1953 has since retreated 3 miles. Sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere has decreased by 250,000 square kilometres (an area the size of Britain ) each decade since 1972. The Thames Barrier, designed in 1982 to close 2-3 times a year, had to be closed 23 times in the four months to March 2001. Yet we can't just switch off climate change. Even if no additional CO2 were emitted from now on, atmospheric concentrations would take centuries to fall to pre-industrial levels. We are changing the climate not just for a generation or two, but for tens of generations to come.
Wednesday 3 rd November.
35,000 people died in Europe as a result of the record heatwave in 2003. The World Health Organisation estimates that over 150,000 people in developing countries are dying each year from the effects of global warming, ranging from malaria, malnutrition and extremes of heat and cold to floods. Predicted rises in sea level of 1 metre during this century would make heavily-populated delta areas of Bangladesh , China and Egypt uninhabitable. The consequences of allowing higher emissions of greenhouse gases are global, irreversible and catastrophic. How can we allow this to happen given that we know what needs to be done? How can we justify our lack of effective action to our children and grandchildren?
Thursday 4 th November.
“Technology will be able to halt climate change” say some. The Government's target is to reduce carbon emissions by 60% by 2050. Technological options to achieve this include:
Mayer Hillman in “How We Can Save the Planet” argues that in a business world where “growth” is the dominant motivation, technological change alone cannot achieve the necessary 60% reduction in CO2 emissions.
Friday 5 th November.
“There are other more urgent problems to tackle – poverty, conflict, terrorism” say others. Yes, the world could provide electricity and clean drinking water for all if it chose to, and this would reduce the causes of conflict. But ignoring climate change, far from helping to solve these problems, would only exacerbate, for example, the availability of clean water, spread of disease, vulnerability of livelihoods and insecurity of food supply.
Saturday 6 th November.
“There's nothing I can do about it” say others. Hillman argues that there is no limit to what we can do, both individually and collectively, but that the longer we procrastinate, the worse the adverse consequences and the greater the difficulty in reversing the process which brought them about. “It is morally indefensible to make decisions that prejudice the imperative of living within the planet's means. We can no longer proceed as if we had the inalienable right to cause damage if there is no other way of achieving our desires.”
Sunday 7 th November.
Give us, loving Father, a deeper understanding of your purposes, that we may be steadfast amid the turmoil of our times. May our faith never fail, nor our love grow cold, nor our hope become faint. May we look up and lift up our heads as we look for the redemption of your world, through Jesus Christ your Son and our Redeemer.
Monday 8 th November.
Archbishop Rowan Williams in his July lecture underlined the huge discrepancy between greenhouse gas emissions in developed and developing countries: in the first 48 hours of 2004, he said, an average American family would have been responsible for as much in the way of emissions as an average Tanzanian family over the entire year. He commended the programme of “Contraction and Convergence” (C & C) as a means of achieving rapid and substantial reductions in emissions, but in a way that foregrounds questions of equity between rich and poor nations. “Contraction” requires international agreement on a “safe” level of CO2 in the atmosphere, to which emissions can be allowed to rise. (The proposed figure of 450 ppm may have to be revised downwards in the light of new evidence) “Convergence” is towards equal shares per capita throughout the world, the process to be completed by an agreed date: 2030 is suggested.
Tuesday 9 th November.
An important element of C & C is the ability of countries to trade carbon emission rights. Thus, in the Archbishop's example, Tanzania could sell some of its carbon emission rights to any country which might otherwise exceed its quota. The proceeds could fund Tanzania 's development in sustainable, zero-emission ways. The purchaser country, with high carbon emissions, would be able to cushion the premature retirement of, for example, its fossil-fuel power stations. Thus, the proposal would make a major contribution to shrinking the gap between rich and poor countries and encourage the spread of low-carbon energy sources.
Wednesday 10 th November.
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution in its report “Energy: the changing climate” recommended that the UK should adopt the principle of C & C and urged the Government to lead diplomatic efforts to establish it as the basis of an international agreement. The Government's own Performance & Innovation Unit echoed this in its 2001 report, but the Government has fallen short of endorsing C & C, presumably relying on the process begun at Kyoto . Yet, even if and when it is ratified, the Kyoto Protocol falls well short of what is needed. Ten out of the fifteen EU countries which signed it are likely to fall well short of the target of a 5% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2010.
Thursday 11 th November.
Air travel is the fastest-growing of all sources of greenhouse gas emissions. Its contribution to global warming is around three times greater than is indicated by the amount of CO2 emissions. This is because other greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, are also emitted and emissions occur more destructively in the upper atmosphere. Between 1990 and 2000 passenger-kilometres flown from airports rose from 120 billion to 260 billion a year. Only 14% of visits abroad by UK residents were for business. Travel and tourism is now the world's largest industry, accounting for 11% of the world's GDP. The climate implications of air travel have been universally overlooked. One travel writer in a UK newspaper wrote, without irony: “Go to the Maldives if you want to see it before global warming swamps the islands.”
Friday 12 th November.
Why do people travel more? Car transport has become ever cheaper in real terms and more widely available. Cheap subsidized air fares are widespread. New roads and motorway widening have become government priorities. More and more people are able to travel further, faster and at less cost. This has created a vicious circle – the higher the speed of travel and the more distant the available destinations,, the greater the demand for transport and the more damaging are the environmental impacts. The decline in local services means that people have to travel further for their needs. Carbon emissions for transport now account for 35% of UK total emissions.
Saturday 13 th November.
Domestic energy accounts for 28% of UK carbon emissions. Demand has been growing annually at around 1%. Energy prices have fallen in real terms, so that fuel bills now account for 3% of the average household budget compared with 6% in 1970. Next, the spread of computers, CDs, DVD players, digital TV and other electrical gadgets has increased energy demand. If air-conditioning, outdoor patio heaters and American-style fridge-freezers were to become commonplace, improvements in energy efficiency would be vastly offset by the increase in demand.
Sunday 14 th November.
Help us, Father, so to deal with the things that we possess that they may never possess us. May we so order our lifestyle that we may tread lightly on your earth. May all the good things that you have entrusted to us be used in your service and for the glory of your Kingdom.
Monday 15 th November.
“Offshore Wind – Onshore Jobs” is a new report, commissioned by Greenpeace, from Energy for Sustainable Development Ltd, showing that the offshore wind industry could bring up to 76,000 new jobs to the UK , of which up to 38,000 would be in the North East. It has been welcomed by the Prime Minister and major trade unions. Kevin Curran of GMB said: “North East manufacturing companies have the fabrication skills and installation expertise to assist in the development of the offshore wind power initiative which should reverse the trend of job losses in this industry, create new businesses and grow the manufacturing skill base.”
Tuesday 16 th November.
The triennial World Conservation Congress begins today at Bangkok under the auspices of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). One thousand delegates are expected and there will be over 300 events. Nobel prizewinner Wangari Maathai will be among the speakers. The three IUCN commissions will meet today to make decisions that will influence the global conservation agenda. From the 18 th to the 20 th the World Conservation Forum will address the world's most pressing sustainable development challenges and present a comprehensive re-assessment of the state of biodiversity on our planet. Query: Has anyone calculated the extra CO2 emissions generated by international conferences such as this?
Wednesday 17 th November.
A debate on the subject “Is economic growth compatible with sustainability?” takes place at 7 pm this evening at Hampstead Old Town Hall , London . The speakers include: the Rt. Hon. Michael Meacher MP, Jonathon Porritt, Dr. Caroline Lucas MEP and Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence. Admission £7. Telephone enquiries to Peter Lang on 0208 809 2391 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 18 th November.
An oil boom in Equatorial Guinea is fuelling the demand for bushmeat according to the Zoological Society of London. The country's increasingly wealthy urban population has pushed some species, such as the black colobus monkey, near to extinction. Between 1 and 5 million tonnes of bushmeat are estimated to be taken from the Congo Basin every year. The BBC's File on Four programme has focused attention on the extent of the illegal trade conducted openly in Cameroun . One report indicates that a simian retrovirus akin to HIV has crossed the species barrier to human hunters.
Friday 19 th November.
The sustainable harvesting of medicinal plants can be a useful source of income for rural communities. Pakistan is one of the world's top ten exporters of medicinal plants, but many are becoming rare through over-extraction and uprooting. WWF is working in the Swat Valley to develop nurseries in partnership with Qarshi Industries, a local herbal manufacturer. As well as training locals in planting, cultivation and sustainable harvesting, WWF has supported 25 nature clubs in local schools where children learn of the vital relationship between plants and people. Six universities in Pakistan have started ethnobotany courses to study conservation issues, while the Government has funded a new institution concerned with medicinal plants, with WWF in an advisory capacity. A cross-border collaboration over conservation research has been established between Pakistan and China , while a 54-nation organization of Islamic countries has put medicinal plant conservation on its agenda.
Saturday 20 th November.
In 1980, following six years of drought in the Sahel , the IUCN launched a Woodless Construction programme in Niger . Traditional wooden homes consume 4 hectares of forest and run a high risk of fire and termite attack, while the thatch has to be replaced regularly. In Woodless Construction, the unit of construction is the local sun-dried earth brick. In 2002 the use of this technique saved 74,000 tonnes of timber, corresponding to 1,500 has. of vegetation. In 1992 the project received the UN development Project Habitat Award. With its thick earthen walls, vaults and domes, Woodless Construction offers exceptional bioclimatic comfort. The town of Iferouane has 120 buildings (10% of the total) made by this technique. Since 1986 most of its buildings have been built by local masons using local materials and financial resources, so saving 7,700 has. of forest. Now the Danish International Development Agency is ceasing to fund the project and its viability is in jeopardy. For more information e-mail: email@example.com
Sunday 21 st November.
Father, we thank you for your great gifts of wisdom and ingenuity. Help us to place them wholly at your service in the quest for technologies to protect the world that you created, and all the creatures that live in it.
Monday 22 nd November.
The International Council for Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has urged European Fisheries Ministers to take urgent action to safeguard fish stocks across Europe . To prevent commercial collapse of fisheries, it advises a zero catch for cod in the North Sea , West of Scotland and in the Irish Sea . A ban on fishing mackerel in parts of the North Sea is recommended as well as a reduction in fishing effort for sole, sand-eel and plaice. Greenpeace comments: “For years scientists have recommended a total ban on cod fishing, yet politicians have caved in to industry pressure and set quotas which do nothing to protect cod stocks. The North Sea used to be one of the most productive seas in the world, but now is overfished and polluted. We need a total ban on cod fishing in the North Sea along with large scale marine reserves which are no-go to all trawlers in order to give other vulnerable species a chance to thrive again. The only way to allow the North Sea to recover is by making large areas of it off-limits.”
Tuesday 23 rd November
A report from the House of Commons Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee reveals that:
FoE comments: “Once again the Government has ignored the democratic process in its desperation to push GM crops onto the British public. Serious concerns raised by the public, local authorities and now this committee have simply been ignored. The Government should think again before allowing widespread GM contamination of our crops and food, and instead do all they can to protect our food, farming and environment.”
Wednesday 24 th November.
A report for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) recommends that Mexico should take drastic steps to stop contamination by GM maize. Mexico is home to all the native varieties of maize and, in order to protect its biodiversity, the report recommends that Mexico keeps its moratorium on planting GM maize and that any maize imported into Mexico from the USA should be milled on entry to stop it from growing accidentally. Greenpeace comments: “When a free-trade organization like NAFTA raises concerns about GM crops, it ought to set alarm bells ringing. This report recognizes the environmental risks posed by GM maize and could be hugely damaging to the USA 's complaint to the WTO regarding Europe 's moratorium on new GM approvals.”
Thursday 25 th November.
A California court has ruled that the oil giant Unocal must stand trial for alleged human rights abuses carried out by the Burmese police in connection with its pipeline project in Burma . The case was brought by 12 Burmese activists. Their counsel explained: “This is an important decision, not only because it allows Unocal to be held liable for abuses committed overseas, but also because it tells other multinational corporations that go into business with repressive dictatorships that they are responsible for their partners' human rights violations.” One of the Burmese put it simply: “This is a victory for villagers who live under the rule of a brutal dictatorship. We now have truth and justice on our side.” For more details visit: www.earthrights.org
Friday 26 th November.
According to a report in the Guardian, more than a third of the waste paper and plastic collected in Britain for recycling is being sent 8,000 miles to China , without any knowledge of the environmental or social costs. The reason? Money. The Chinese offer £120 per tonne of mixed plastic, compared with £50 for the same amount of waste in Britain . China now buys more than 3 million tonnes a year of the world's waste plastic plus 15 million tonnes of paper and board. Yet according to the Washington Post, five of China 's largest rivers are so polluted that they are dangerous not only to taste but to touch, while 600 million Chinese drink water contaminated human or animal waste.
Saturday 27 th November.
At the European Conference on Health and the Environment in Budapest the World Health Organisation (WHO) launched its Atlas of Children's Environmental Health. A spokesman said: “About 10% of the world's population is under five, yet 40% of environment-related disease falls on children in this age group, partly because they have a higher intake of harmful substances in relation to body weight, and partly because they have less strength and knowledge to protect themselves. It is unacceptable that the most vulnerable members of society should be the ones who pay the price for failures to protect health from environmental dangers.” The Atlas is available on the internet at: www.who.int/ceh
Sunday 28 th November.
Father, in your creation you have made us rich,
We live as though our well-being matters most.
Help us to visualise your values, to appreciate your resources,
Monday 29 th November.
FoE's Climate Challenge provides an answer to all who think they are powerless in the face of global warming. The Challenge begins with easy steps such as installing low-energy light bulbs, and progresses, via cutting back on car usage, to more demanding actions. For a copy of the Climate Challenge ring 0808 800 1111 or visit: www.foe.org.uk/climate_challenge
Tuesday 30 th November.
A vital starting point to reducing personal CO2 emissions is to calculate ones own emissions and set the figures against the national average of 5.4 tonnes of CO2 per annum. However, about half the energy needed to provide goods and services to individuals comes from the industrial, commercial, agricultural and public sectors, so we need to double the figure for household fuel consumption in order to come to a true figure. A method of calculating ones own carbon emissions is found in chapter 8 of “How We Can Save the Planet” by Mayer Hillman. Another can be found on the internet at: www.dtqs.org
Sources: BBC Wildlife Magazine
Countryside (British Naturalists Association)
Sources of information:
Copyright © 2004-2008 Philip Clarkson Webb and Christian Ecology Link