“Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Jeremiah 6.16)
“Give everything in and around you a supernatural, divine, sacred, miraculous character and you will know untold happiness and pride.” (Robert Muller, former Assistant Secretary-General, U.N.)
“You will never be really happy if you don't understand that producers and merchants must constantly create new unhappiness in order to sell more goods and new goods to you.” (Robert Muller)
“Whenever I have found beauty in life, there was a great act of love at its origin.” (Robert Muller)
Tuesday 1 st February.
Indian Ocean communities devastated by the tsunami face a mammoth task of reconstruction. According to WWF “Healthy ecosystems can save lives. Places that had healthy coral reefs and intact mangroves, which act as natural buffers, were less badly hit than those where reefs had been damaged and mangroves ripped out and replaced by prawn farms and poorly-planned beachfront hotels.” CEL comments: “Sometimes reverent care of forests and reefs and dunes prevents tragedies and is what being a good shepherd is all about.”
Wednesday 2 nd February.
There will be a huge demand for timber for reconstruction. WWF advocates that all the timber should be harvested from responsibly-managed forests. “Indiscriminate logging could contribute to other calamities, such as landslides and flooding.” Also, if devastated fishing communities are not speedily enabled to regain access to fishing grounds, there is a risk that opportunistic fishing fleets will move in and further compound their current plight.
Thursday 3 rd February.
Climate Crisis meetings are to be held at 7.30 this evening at University College, Gower Street, London and at Carrs Lane Church Centre in Birmingham. Speakers at the London meeting include George Monbiot, Jean Lambert MEP and Tony Juniper of FoE. Those at Birmingham include Clare Short MP and speakers from the Islamic Foundation for Ecology & Environmental Science, the Campaign against Climate Change, the Green Party and FoE. For details of the Birmingham meeting ring 0121 632 6909.
Friday 4 th February.
A Private Member's Bill to increase the use of renewable fuel crops, such as willow and straw, and to harness sources such as solar power and ground heat, is to have its Second Reading today in Parliament. Hitherto, farmers have been reluctant to grow crops for fuel as businesses seem uninterested in investing in technology which generates heat locally and which uses waste heat. The Bill would encourage schools, hospitals, hotels, farmers and timber yards to install their own small-scale units, such as woodburners, ground heat pumps and straw-fired heating. Energy suppliers could either invest in their own supplies of renewable heat energy or buy in “credits” from companies which specialize in the technology. One-third of UK energy consumption is used for heating. The Bill would boost the renewable heat market and so reduce CO2 emissions.
Saturday 5 th February.
The Ashden Trust is offering £250,00 in its 2005 Awards Scheme, of which up to four £30,000 awards will go towards overseas projects bringing renewable energy to communities in the developing world, while three awards of £30,000 are offered for UK schemes demonstrating excellence in renewable electricity and heat generation and in energy efficiency. There is also a UK Champions Award of £15,000. Successful projects must be already up and running. Applications closed on 31 st January, but the awards are offered annually. Website: www.ashdenawards.org
Sunday 6 th February.
Loving Father, who sent your Son to share the suffering of humanity, come close to all who have lost loved ones in the tsunami disaster, and all who have become refugees or who are suffering from the devastation of war. Uphold those who minister to their needs and help us to remember that in serving the least of your brothers and sisters we are serving you.
Monday 7 th February.
According to the World Council of Churches: “Measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions run against the present project of society, which is based on expanding production and consumption.” Herman Daly refers to the shift required in our vision of how our economic activities relate to the natural world: “Enormous forces of denial are aligned against it and to overcome them requires deep philosophical clarification, even religious renewal.” “Denial” according Bishop John Oliver “is a rejection at a conscious level of some truth or fact which, at a deeper level, is known about, but which is avoided because of the fear and anxiety it arouses.”
Tuesday 8 th February.
Bishop Oliver suggests various approaches, such as:
Reinforcing the common ground which exists between Christians, Jews, Muslims and Buddhists on the sacredness of the Earth and the need to tackle climate change at local level;
Emphasising the current fashion for green technology such as solar panels and hybrid electric cars;
Stressing the benefits – medical, pharmaceutical and agricultural – that could flow from environmental protection;
Drawing attention to well-grounded fears of major climatic disasters;
Political action to draw the nations together under a policy of Contraction and Convergence, whereby the Earth's tolerance of greenhouse gases is established by agreement and each human being is given an equal “permit to pollute”, each permit having a financial value which can be traded.
Wednesday 9 th February.
The Rt. Rev. James Jones, Bishop of Liverpool, speaking at St.Paul's to an audience of businessmen, said that, for us as consumers, there is no check on our profligacy. “We are so removed from the consequences of our actions that we live comfortably in denial, ignoring the prophets of doom who predict an environmental crisis of epic proportions.” He believes we should shift from taxing labour to levying taxes on the use of original material, for two reasons:
It would exert more of a discipline on our use of original material, which would encourage us to conserve and replenish the source.
It would stimulate labour and encourage us to be creative and innovative in our use of original material.
Shifting the tax regime from one area to another would keep the overall tax take the same. The most successful businesses would be those which deployed labour as creatively and innovatively as possible, so as to use the minimum amount of original materials in their products.
Thursday 10 th February.
The double-decker A380 Airbus, designed to carry up to 800 passengers, was ceremonially unveiled last month. £7 billion has been spent on its development to this stage and it will cost taxpayers untold millions during its commercial life, which could be more than 40 years. According to Dr. Caroline Lucas MEP: “The A380 has been designed with low-cost aviation in mind: it represents the “pile ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap” philosophy of supermarkets. The trouble is someone's got to pay. As usual where aviation is concerned, the ultimate price is paid by the taxpayer left to foot the bill for the social and environmental impact of the pollution, congestion, airport expansion and climate chaos it will bring. Most of the jobs created by the A380 will be in the health and environmental sectors, cleaning up its mess. Tony Blair has wasted public money that would have been better invested in sustainable public transport and renewable energy. His zeal for the project undermines his stated enthusiasm for tackling climate change.”
Friday 11 th February.
According to Planet Earth, the newsletter of the Natural Environment Research Council, a return flight from London to Sydney results in as much greenhouse gas for each passenger – around 4 tonnes each – as that belched out by the average car over an entire year. By 2020 over a quarter of UK carbon dioxide emissions could come from aircraft, as compared with 6% in 2000. Virtual Conferencing is now an effective substitute for many big international conferences where new technology, called Access Grid, allows delegates to take part in virtual conferences without the need to jet round the world. If travel by air is essential, several schemes allow you to calculate how much greenhouse gas you are causing, and then to compensate for it by paying a few pounds to plant a tree or contributing to an energy efficiency scheme. Some of the schemes are accessible online at: www.ghgonline.org/neutral
Saturday 12 th February.
To mark the coming into force of the Kyoto Protocol, there will be marches, demonstrations and other events throughout the world. In London the flags of all 128 participating nations will be paraded outside the US Embassy. For more details contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Also today, the CEL Young Persons' Forum meets from 12 to 4 at Kings Cross, London . For details contact: email@example.com
Sunday 13 th February.
Give us, Father, a surer trust in your power, a deeper sense of companionship with fellow followers of Christ and a greater boldness in taking up our crosses and standing against the forces of evil in your world. We ask this in the name of your son, Jesus Christ.
Monday 14 th February.
Sir John Houghton FRS recalls how parents used to tell their children: “If you keep bouncing on the bed, eventually the springs will break.” This is something very hard for a child to believe – until it happens. Small actions by individuals, multiplied across nations, have tremendous consequences. The climate is changing: the bed will break. Some are starting to listen, but there is not yet enough “belief” to change behaviour. And yet, while people's collective behaviour may be responsible for environmental damage, it is only people who can put things right. The John Ray Institute aims to resource and encourage people who take environmental issues seriously. Its Strategy 2004 booklet and its briefing papers enable us all to apply sound information “on the ground”, each in his own sphere. For more information visit: www.jri.org.uk
Tuesday 15 th February.
The Government-funded Carbon Trust has launched a campaign to encourage businesses to move towards a low-carbon economy. It offers advice to businesses to help them cut carbon emissions through energy efficiency, carbon management and investment. It also promotes the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA) scheme which enables businesses to claim 100% first-year capital allowances on investments in energy saving equipment. Further details on qualifying products and ECAs are available at www.eca.gov.uk
Wednesday 16 th February.
New research by the US National Center for Atmospheric Research shows that the area of land affected by drought has doubled over the last 30 years, the key factor being climate change. The report follows the Palmer Drought Severity Index from 1948 to 2002, which is a measure of near-surface moisture conditions and is correlated with soil moisture content. It shows drying across much of Canada , Europe , Asia and Africa , but moistening across parts of the USA , Argentina , Scandinavia and Western Australia . It confirms that over the last 100 years Europe 's temperature has risen by 0.95 o C. – faster than the world average of 0.7 o C.
Thursday 17 th February.
“Winning the Oil Endgame” is a new book by Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute which offers “a coherent strategy for ending oil dependence, starting with the USA, but applicable worldwide.” The strategy is led by business for profit and co-funded by the Pentagon. Steps towards halving America 's oil consumption include:
Using ultra-lightweight steel materials which double the efficiency of hybrid-electric and light trucks, while improving safety and performance;
Cutting production costs of vehicles and aircraft by using lightweight materials such as carbon-fibre composites;
Through advances in cellulose-to-ethanol conversion, replacing fossil fuels with plant-derived carbohydrates, so boosting farm incomes by billions of dollars a year and creating more than 750,000 new jobs.
In addition, vehicle licences could incorporate rebates on fuel-efficient vehicles, while governmental loan guarantees could accelerate the re-tooling of the motor industry and the production of fuel-efficient aircraft.
Oil imports currently cost $10 billion a month: investing $180 billion over the next decade would eliminate oil dependence, revitalize strategic industries and save $130 billion gross every year by 2025. $40 billion would pay farmers for biofuels, while the rest would return to communities, businesses and children. CO2 emissions would shrink by a quarter. “Cancelling out America 's need for oil could restore US moral leadership and clarity of purpose in the world.”
Friday 18 th February.
According to the NFU, the average British household spends £470 a year on packaging – 1/6 th of its total food budget. In a typical Tesco's shopping basket only 26% of the cost relates to food: the rest is packaging, processing, transport, store overheads, advertising and the mark-up of supermarkets – sometimes as high as 45%.
In Germany customers are legally permitted to peel off excess layers of packaging and leave it on the supermarket checkout. Why not here?
EU legislation will force us to recycle at least 55% of packaging by 2008. In the Netherlands all computers and appliances must, at the end of their lifespan, be taken back by their manufacturers for recycling. Why not here?
Saturday 19 th February.
Government figures show that in 2003/4 Britain recycled 17% of its domestic waste. Its target for 2005 is 25%. Lichfield Council recycled 46% of household rubbish, but over 40% of local councils missed their targets.
Austria , Germany and Holland all recycled over 50% of their waste as long ago as 2001. FoE comments: “We should be recycling at least 50% of our rubbish by 2010, an achievable target that would give us a recycling record to be proud of.”
Sunday 20 th February.
Lord Jesus, born into a simple home, save us, we pray thee, from such entanglement in the complexities of life that we lose our simplicity of spirit, our sense of wonder, our taste for simple pleasures, our joy in homely things. Grant that no wealth of possession, or learning of mind, or pride of soul, may take away our taste for lowly things or make the song of a bird, or the friendship of a child, or humble fireside fellowship, merely boring or dull. Amid all the distractions of this complicated modern life of ours, keep our hearts childlike and simple, that the gates of the Kingdom, closed to the merely clever and conceited, may be opened unto us always. For thy Name's sake. Amen. (Leslie Weatherhead)
Monday 21 st February.
A new book, “Wordly Wonder: Religions Enter Their Ecological Phase” by Mary Evelyn Tucker, brings the wisdom of Asian religions to bear on the ecological crisis which, she says, “requires religions to reclaim and reconstruct themselves in order to promote flourishing human-earth relations.” She does not gloss over the “creative tensions” between different religions, but builds on our common human response to the wonders of creation. “Wonder is an authentic response to the elegant universe of which we are citizens, and is a decisive part of the intelligence of the human animal who recently emerged from the ‘numinous creativity' of Earth. Wonder is also the most intimate heart of religious experience. Wonder can galvanise human imagination, energy, wisdom, insight and the best of religions.” (Is there any place here for the love of a Creator and our thankfulness for his Creation?)
Tuesday 22 nd February.
Up to 30,00- chemicals now in use have never been tested for safety. “Ecological Medicine” (published by Sierra Club Books) is a series of essays on the precautionary principle, which says: “When an activity raises threats of harm to human health or the environment, precautionary measures shall be taken, even if some cause-and-effect relationships are not fully established scientifically.” This places the burden of proof for any new technology, process, activity or chemical, on the proponent, not the public. Currently the public must prove damage and then pay for the clean-up through taxes. The precautionary principle means that the polluter must first prove safety and also pay for any resulting damage. Current risk assessment accepts the notion that a certain level of contamination of the environment is unavoidable and that the task is to decide the level of acceptable risk. But what level of pesticides, mercury or lead is O.K.? How much atmospheric pollution can we get away with?
The precautionary principle advocates zero degradation of the environment because of the uncertainties of risk assessment. For example, how did it ever come about that human breast milk has become one of the most contaminated food substances?
Wednesday 23 rd February.
BSE in Europe and America , Nipah virus in Malaysian pig farms, the SARS epidemic in China , Avian Flu in S.E. Asia – the growing threat of animal-borne diseases cries out for a re-examination of the current approach to industrial food production. It appears that the relentless intensification of agricultural and livestock production in the pursuit of economics of scale may be yielding false economies, when public health costs are included in the account. “A Land on Fire” by James Fahn catalogues cases of environmental irresponsibility by Asian governments from the Indonesian forest fires of 1997-8 to the current rash of ruinous development projects in Thailand, where national parks are obliged to make a profit, wildlife sanctuaries are turned into tourist attractions and protest by NGOs and others is muzzled.
Thursday 24 th February.
The Marine Biological Association's report called “Marine Health Check 2005” finds that many marine habitats around Britain , from deep water muds and reefs to saltmarshes and maerl beds, are being destroyed by coastal development, fishing, aquaculture, oil and gas exploitation. For example, intensive bottom fishing and dredging have caused a severe decline in the numbers of fan mussels. The report sets out the key principles for achieving the sustainable use of marine resources and underlines the multiple benefits to all users of the marine environment including the fishing industry and offshore energy developers. It can be downloaded from www.wwf.org.uk
Friday 25 th February.
Satellite photography has long been used to monitor deforestation and forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon. Satellite tracking devices now have to be fitted to Scottish fishing vessels over 15 m. long so as to monitor fishing activity and manage fish stocks. Similar schemes will apply in England and N. Ireland . Now experiments by the US Wildlife Conservation Society have shown that satellite images can distinguish a Thomson gazelle from a wild horse from a giraffe. The next step involves studies on elephants in Tanzania , flamingos in the Andes and elks, moose and bison in Wyoming . In open country satellite images have many advantages. For forested areas, they are less useful.
Saturday 26 th February.
“Climate Change – how Christians respond” is the title of an ecumenical day conference and worship arranged by Oxford diocese and sponsored by the Conservation Foundation and DEFRA. The conference takes place today from 9.30 to 4 at St. Andrew's Church, Hatters Lane , High Wycombe . Keynote speakers: Sir John Houghton FRS, Claire Foster FRSA ( Church of England Environmental Adviser ) and the Bishop of Oxford. Workshop subjects include: Simple Lifestyle, Creation-Centred Liturgy, Eco-Congregation, Energy Essentials and Global Costs – Global Solutions. Entry costs £10 for each car, £1 per person arriving on foot, bicycle or public transport. For further details write to Canon Christopher Hall, The Knowle, Deddington, Banbury OX15 OTB or visit: www.sageoxford.org.uk/climatechange.htm
Sunday 27 th February.
Loving Father, we thank thee for the yearly miracle of Spring. The snowdrops and daffodils tell us that Spring is coming, and the brave green spikes of other flowers cheer us with their messages of promise. May we never cease to wonder that thy power is endless and thy loving care never fails. And if our hearts are fast bound in a winter of depression or sin, unhappiness or sorrow, may the signs of Spring around us save us from despair.
Thou wilt speak again. Thou wilt speak the word of pardon and our burden will roll away; the word of healing and we shall be made whole; the word of joy and our hearts will sing; the word of peace and all our fretting and care and worry will pass away.
So grant us ne w faith in all thy promises and new courage to face each day. Amen. (Leslie Weatherhead)
Monday 28 th February.
The Australian Institute of Marine Science has found that 20% of the world's coral reefs have been destroyed and look unlikely to recover soon, 24% face the risk of collapse from human pressures and another 26% are at risk in the longer term. Bleaching and climate change are the main threats. However, 40% of Pacific and Indian Ocean reefs bleached in 1998 are recovering. Evidently a longer perspective is needed to assess prospects for these habitats, which are so vital to both humans and wildlife.
Land Heritage news
“A Private House of Prayer” by Leslie Weatherhead.
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