“Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful.
Do not give up if trials come; keep on praying.” (Romans 12.11-12)
“Act as if everything depended on you; wait as if everything depended on God.” ( St. Ignatius Loyola)
“God could do His work without us, but He chooses not to because He wants it to be a team effort. Does that mean that if you and I do not make ourselves available to Him, then some things just might not get done? I wonder. (Selwyn Hughes)
Tuesday 1st March
Today marks the beginning of Fairtrade Fortnight. Thanks to all who buy Fairtrade coffee, tea, sugar, chocolate, bananas (and a range of other products down to roses and footballs), 5 million producers now get a fair price for their products, although millions more remain at the mercy of unfair trade rules. For example, the EU spends 3 billion euros a year on export subsidies for sugar beet. The high tariffs that protect EU farmers and refiners from cheaper imports mean that the poorest sugar-producing countries can only export to the EU the equivalent of 3 days' sugar consumption a year. For a Fairtrade Fortnight Action Guide ring 020 7440 7676 or visit www.fairtrade.org.uk For the Trade Justice campaign visit www.tjm.org.uk
Wednesday 2nd March
Any church can be officially declared a Fairtrade Church if the congregation pledges to:
Use Fairtrade coffee and tea for all its meetings;
Move forward on using other Fairtrade products, such as biscuits, sugar and fruit (full list available on the above website)
Promote the Fairtrade mark at events during Fairtrade Fortnight – and other activities whenever possible.
Chester in 2002 became the first Fairtrade diocese. To find out how they did it, visit: www.chester.anglican.org/fairtrade or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Application forms are available from: The Fairtrade Foundation, Room 204, 16 Baldwin 's Gardens, London EC1N 7RJ.
Thursday 3rd March
The Kyoto climate treaty, signed by 141 countries, came into force on the 16th February. The USA, the world's biggest polluter, and Australia have refused to join the international community in the fight against global warming. The EU has declined to commit itself to further cuts in CO2 emissions after 2012. One outstanding issue is how to tackle fast-growing emissions from emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil . In short, how can economic growth be decoupled from growth in emissions? Britain, by its presidency of the G8 summit in the summer and of the EU from July to December, is in a position to set an example.
Friday 4th March
The Asian tsunami, apart from the damage to lives and livelihoods, had two good effects:
The realisation that a pristine environment, such as offshore coral reefs in the Maldives and mangroves in parts of Tamil Nadu and Burma, can save many thousands from catastrophe;
The drawing together of different nations, cultures and religions in the face of common threats. A shared sense of vulnerability, and a dawning recognition that ripping-up natural defences can have deadly consequences, reinforce a growing awareness that we belong to one world. As we face the looming shockwaves of climate change, we begin to understand that we either get through together, or not at all.
Saturday 5th March
Aubrey Meyer, the architect of “Contraction and Convergence”, points out that if each of us were allotted an equal number of carbon units (or permits to emit CO2 ), the majority of us, under the Domestic Tradeable Quotas (DTQ) system, would be able to sell our entitlements to heavy polluters. “You'll get paid for going by bike instead of car. You'll get paid for doing nothing, or doing less, or doing it differently. So you don't hit them with a carbon tax: you'll be giving them a carbon dividend. And that has to be an election winner.” For details of DTQs visit www.gci.org.uk
Sunday 6th March
Our Father, who gave commandments that guide us into paths of justice and compassion, teach us what it means to make good trade rules.
We pray for rules to govern our trade that can bend to serve the needs of the poor, that are strong to contain the greed of the rich, that will challenge the inequalities present in our world.
Make us restless for change, refusing to submit to political realities where life and death are bought in the market place, and daring to work for the coming of your kingdom, where the world is re-shaped in the image of Christ: in whose Name we pray. (Baptist Union of Great Britain)
Monday 7th March
In the book “IOU: the debt threat and why we must defuse it” Noreena Hertz refers to IMF and World Bank conditions for debt relief: “These are often at odds with environmental protection. In the Philippines, the government had to sell off all official vehicles to meet IMF-imposed budgetary constraints. So forestry officials ended up begging rides from the very loggers they were supposed to control. Millions of dollars are lent by the World Bank to set up shrimp farms in Thailand, Indonesia, Ecuador, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ghana and elsewhere, farms which are now the primary cause of mangrove and wetland destruction in the tropics. Meanwhile Western governments continue to provide loans for dams, thermal power plants, oil fields and coal-fired power projects in developing countries, despite the environmentally-damaging consequences.”
Tuesday 8th March
The Andrew Lees Trust was set up in 1996 to commemorate the work of the FoE campaigner who died in Madagascar of heat stroke. The trust has funded many community projects in the south of Madagascar, including the distribution of 700 clockwork/solar-powered radios in partnership with 14 radio stations which broadcast, in local languages, programmes focusing on education, fuel efficiency, HIV awareness, food security, conservation, family welfare and cattle rearing. Another venture, “Project Energy”, trains village women to build red earth stoves that reduce fuel consumption by 69%. Some 30,000 stoves have been installed in over 30 communities. For more information ring 020 7424 9256 or visit: www.andrewleestrust.org.uk
Wednesday 9th March
Thousands of supporters of the Wildlife Trusts, RSPB, Greenpeace, Marine Conservation Society and Whale & Dolphin Conservation Society are converging on Westminster today to press Parliament for a Marine Conservation Bill. Large-scale fishing, including bottom-trawling, degrades the marine environment, kills marine animals such as dolphins and wastes thousands of tonnes of fish caught unnecessarily. We have only three marine National Nature Reserves as compared with 207 on land. Even marine Special Areas of Conservation under EU fisheries laws can be damaged or destroyed within the law. To register an interest, write to: Marine Day, The Wildlife Trusts, The Kiln, Waterside, Mather Road, Newark NG24 1WT or email: email@example.com
Thursday 10th March
The UK population is increasing by 0.4% or 240,000 each year. More of us are living alone, car ownership is rocketing and overseas air travel is at an all-time high. The Government plans at least 850,000 new houses over the next 27 years, up to 40 expanded airports, and a huge road-building programme. If, as in the past, we accept environmental degradation as the inevitable result of the march of progress, future generations will not lightly forgive us. But, say the Wildlife Trusts, this vast development programme is an opportunity to demonstrate the concept of sustainable development and create new wild spaces with green infrastructure to benefit both people and wildlife.
Friday 11th March.
Cambourne, a new village between Cambridge and Bedford, will contain over 3,000 new houses, a business park, two schools and a supermarket, yet none of Cambridgeshire's 600 wildlife sites has been touched. From the first, developers were persuaded to employ ecologists to identify valuable habitats and work out how to protect them. There have been added to the three existing woods, totalling 5.6 has., a further 54 has. of native planting. Road verges and ditch-side grasslands are being expanded to 28 has. while five lakes, with several ponds and ditches, are increasing the open-water areas. Footpaths and cycleways, doubling up as wildlife corridors, criss-cross the village. The key decisions were:
To survey the area before building started & to incorporate valuable wildlife habitat into the master plan;
To employ ecologists to maximise opportunities for wildlife at each phase of building;
To create as many wildlife habitats and recreational spaces as possible & establish them at each phase of building;
To involve local people in wildlife conservation.
Saturday 12th March
“Invest in Fish” is a project developed in the South-West by Marks & Spencer, the Wildlife Trusts, the National Federation of Fishermen's Organisations and WWF. Embracing fishermen, retailers, restaurateurs, government agencies and environmentalists, it aims to spend EU Common Fisheries Policy money in a different way, by introducing no-take zones, changing net sizes and preventing environmental damage. Launching the project, Prince Charles said: “Marine fisheries could and should be the ultimate sustainable industry. But the conventional management of fisheries has resulted in a damaged and degraded environment, with serious consequences for the survival of fisheries and dependent communities. Bringing together local people and organizations with interests in fisheries and the marine environment to look for new solutions is a brave and commendable initiative.”
Sunday 13th March
Lord, we pray that your people, whether they be ministers, scientists or lay people, may find the strength to give clear witness of the need to care for the world that you created. May they speak out courageously on the changes in lifestyle that are now seen to be necessary to protect your creation. Amen.
Monday 14th March
The use of coppiced willow as fuel for existing oil- and coal-fired power stations has come a step nearer with an agreement between ESD Biomass and npower renewables for the supply of at least 30,000 tonnes a year of short-rotation coppiced willow to Didcot power station. The willow will require about 3,000 has. of farmland and will provide a lifeline to many farmers. This is the first ever long-term contract for the use of energy crops in an existing power station. For details visit: www.esdbiomass.co.uk and www.npower.com
Tuesday 15th March
Today and tomorrow the G8 Energy and Environment Ministers meet in London to consider achieving a sustainable global energy future in a lower carbon world. Twenty countries, including China, will be attending. Chancellor Gordon Brown will give the keynote address on the relationship between economic development, energy investment and climate change. The EU Emissions Trading Scheme already sets a cap on industrial CO2 emissions – roughly half the total. The challenge for the Chancellor is to introduce economic instruments for capping emissions from other sectors, especially buildings and transport. If Britain can work out the future value of emissions reductions and devise financial tools to control our emissions, we will have an immense advantage in exporting this know-how, and the technologies that go with it, to countries such as China and India which are desperate for solutions to their environmental problems.
Wednesday 16th March
Is China the world's next economic giant? Here are some facts:
As the worlds largest producer and consumer of coal, accounting for 25% of the world total, China suffers 300,000 deaths a year from air pollution and $54 billion in health costs (8% of total GDP);
Around 75% of Chinese lakes and almost all coastal seas are polluted with industrial discharges and agricultural runoffs of fertilisers, pesticides and manures. Two-thirds of the water required for cities and irrigation comes from aquifers which, in coastal areas, as they become depleted allow sea water to enter, making them unfit for any purpose. Of China 's two major rivers, the lower Yellow River stopped flowing in 20 out of the 25 years between 1972 and 1997.
Soil erosion results in soil loss of 5 billion tons a year. On the Yangtse, sediment discharge from erosion exceeds the combined discharges of the Nile and the Amazon, the world's two longest rivers. Desertification, due to overgrazing and land reclamation, affects more than a quarter of China, destroying in the last 10 years some 15% of North China 's agricultural land.
Cropland per person is now only 1 hectare, barely half the world average and nearly as low as N.W. Rwanda just before the genocide. Food security is a major problem.
China has just 0.3 acres of forest per person, compared to a world average of 1.6. After the floods of 1998, which affected 240 million people, all logging of forests was banned. So China, like Japan, now sources all its forest products from South-East Asia and Brazil where the forests are already under intense pressure.
In addition, there are the huge environmental and social costs associated with the Three Gorges Dam project and the even more costly South-to-North Water Diversion Project, begun in 2002 and scheduled for completion in 2050.
Thursday 17th March
Since the floods of 1998 China 's elite has devoted much effort to environmental solutions. Yet economic growth remains the priority, well above environmental protection and sustainability. Officials of the State Environmental Administration are appointed by local governments which often block enforcement of environmental laws. Government land is leased to farmers on short terms, while water for irrigation is dirt cheap, removing any incentive for water conservation. On the plus side, all vehicles must now be converted to permit the use of natural gas. A $6 billion tree belt is being planted around Beijing to protect the city against dust storms. The Grain-to-Grain programme gives grain subsidies to farmers who convert cropland to forest or grassland – even though the Beijing government has admitted that China will no longer be self-sufficient in food.
Friday 18th March
Why are China 's problems also the world's problems? China 's people, like other people in developing countries, aspire to a First World lifestyle: that includes acquiring a house, a car, electrical appliances, access to modern medicines, abundant food including meat etc. China 's per capita consumption of steel, aluminium, copper and lead is currently only 9% of that of leading industrial countries. If her consumption of these metals rose to First World levels – even if consumption elsewhere remained the same – this would translate into a 94% increase in world consumption of these metals. In other words, China 's achievement of First World standards will almost double human use of these resources and their environmental impact. Something has to give.
Saturday 19th March
As Britain 's reserves of oil and gas run dry, we shall need new sources of foreign earnings. China 's problems are well known. For example:
Her coal-based production of ammonia – required for fertilizer and textile manufacture – requires 42 times more water than natural gas-based ammonia production in the First World ;
Her paper production consumes more than twice as much water as in the First World ; Her irrigation relies on inefficient surface methods responsible for water wastage, soil nutrient losses, eutrophication and river sediment discharges. In these areas, as in many others, Britain has great technical and human resources. Rather than seeking to export nuclear technology which, besides other disadvantages, is a vast consumer of water (in the 2003 heat wave French reactors had to close because the cooling water became too warm), perhaps we should be exporting our expertise in water conservation and renewable energy in all its forms.
Sunday 20th March
Father God, whose Son rode this day towards that city which closed its heart against him, may we not shut from him any part of the city of life, but acknowledge him as Ruler and hail him as King in everything we do and say and think, so that, knowing the things which belong to our peace, we may be his and he may be ours, for ever and ever.
(Leslie Weatherhead - adapted)
Monday 21st March
The Earthrace is a bid to break the 75-day record for circumnavigating the globe by a powerboat, using only biodiesel produced from crops such as canola and rape. The aim is to raise awareness of the potential of biodiesel as a replacement for fossil fuels, and hybrid electricity as an efficient solution to reliance on fossil fuels. This year the boat will visit 50 ports including London to raise media awareness and give the crew information on port entry and specific hazards en route. Biodiesel is greenhouse gas neutral, it degrades rapidly if spilt and it has a higher flashpoint, making it safer to handle. For details visit: www.earthrace.net
Tuesday 22nd March
The Philippines once had 60% of its land under forest cover. This has been reduced to less than 20% by timber extraction, land clearance for agriculture and demand for fuel wood. Two weeks of storms and mudslides have led to 1,000 people dead or missing. President Arroyo has suspended the issue of new tree felling permits and demanded a review of both legal and illegal logging. She promised “to prosecute illegal loggers including erring government officials and law enforcers in the way we do terrorists, kidnappers, drug traffickers and other heinous criminals.” Here, as elsewhere, a law requiring loggers to plant ten trees for every tree felled would go far to remedying the disastrous effects of deforestation.
Wednesday 23rd March
According to Dr. Satyanarayana of the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS), the new System of Rice Intensification (SRI) increase rice yields by around 25%. The system involves planting the seedlings at wider spacings, keeping the fields wet but not flooded, and weeding with a rotary weeder to encourage soil micro-organisms to proliferate. As the crop matures 10 days earlier, less fertilizers and pesticides are needed. SRI crops have been shown to withstand cyclonic gales and cold spells.
By contrast, GM Vitamin A-enriched “Golden Rice” was found to contain no more Vit. A than home-grown varieties. Indica Basmati rice and various European rice strains genetically-engineered to resist insects contained high levels of toxins which leached into the soil and damaged the enzymes of soil microbes. On one test site pollen from herbicide-tolerant GM rice contaminated conventional rice 110 metres from the crop boundary.
Thursday 24th March
French government scientists who analysed the molecular structure of five GM crops approved for commercial growing found that none of them was the same as samples submitted for safety testing by manufacturers. ISIS has put it to the European Food Safety Authority that this inherent instability invalidates the safety tests and makes remedial action in case of harm almost impossible. Now the GM industry plants to launch GM plants containing vaccines, tranquillisers and antidepressants. For more information call 0207 383 376 or visit:
Friday 25th March. Good Friday
Lord Jesus who died for me,
Help me to live for thee.
Saturday 26th March
The Parish Pump Awards, promoted by the Conservation Foundation, encourage church congregations to make sustainability part of church life and to fund projects to improve the environment or local communities. A £1,000 award, supported by DEFRA, enables Woodkirk Church in Yorkshire to clear its churchyard and reclaim it as a wildlife sanctuary. Another award enables Seaton, Devon, to build a traditional labyrinth to celebrate the granting of its charter 1,000 years ago. For more information ring 020 7591 3111 or visit: www.conservationfoundation.co.uk
Sunday 27th March. Easter Day
Jesus, our Lord, we praise you
That nothing could keep you dead in the grave.
You are stronger than death and the devil.
Help us to remember
That there is nothing to be afraid of,
Because you are alive and by our side. (Lion Prayer Collection)
Monday 28th March
Next month the International Interfaith Investment Group (3iG) will be launched. The steering group includes representatives of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jain, Sikh and Zoroastrian investment funds, as well as observers from the World Bank, Citigroup, Rabobank etc. 3iG will create a cluster group of faith investors around a specific challenge. World faiths have access to large capital holdings: according to Citigroup, Methodist funds alone total $8 billion. The Church of Sweden, supported by the Alliance of Religions & Conservation, the Mozambique Government, the Swedish International Development Agency and the Ford Foundation, last year launched a $1.3 million forestry project to reforest 46,000 hectares in the Niassa province of Mozambique with a further 45,000 has. to be managed as a conservation area. Other projects are in the pipeline. For more information visit: www.3ignet.org
Tuesday 29th March
Sir David King, the Government's chief scientist, has told an international climate change conference in Exeter that it was critically important to investigate the technology of carbon sequestration. Existing oil and gas rigs, he said, could be used to pump CO2 under pressure into wells and, eventually, into saline aquifers. “None of us know whether carbon sequestration is feasible, but if it is, it is a way of using coal reserves all over the world.” (especially in China ?) The problem is that Norway has for several years been pumping CO2 into underground wells to extract the oil and gas, yet doubts remain as to whether the carbon could leak out over decades. Also, success in this technology would provide an incentive to increase carbon emissions rather than to limit consumption of fossil fuels.
Wednesday 30th March
. Sir David drew attention to a paper regarding sequestration of CO2 in tropical forests. Raised levels of CO2 were indeed leading to faster tree growth, but a time would come when trees become carbon-saturated when, instead being “carbon sinks” they would become “carbon sources”. Clearly this already happens when forests are burnt or otherwise destroyed. None of the findings deny the usefulness of planting trees to combat the risks of flooding, desertification and other aspects of climate change.
Thursday 31st March
Much faith is placed in the new EU Emissions Trading Scheme, yet Margaret Beckett has announced that, so far, Britain 's CO2 emissions are only 7.5% below 1990 levels – a far cry from the Government's target of a 20% cut by 2010. While the Government argues with the EU as to the exact entitlement of British industry to emit CO2 , it is incumbent on all of us to do what we can in our own sphere to limit our emissions. CEL's 3-page Cool Church Toolkit (obtainable from the website or by ringing 01949 861 516) now enables every church to measure its carbon emissions and to work out how best to reduce them.
Green Health Watch Magazine
“Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Survive”by Jared Diamond
“How We Can Save the Planet” by Mayer Hillman