“Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths,
lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding,
you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars,
wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds,
kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth,
young men and maidens, old men and children.” (Psalm 48.7-12)
“The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets
and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great -
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” (Rev. 11.18)
“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 helplessness.” (O. Hallesby)
Friday 1st April
Dr. Rowan Williams has warned that the separation, or even opposition, of economic and environmental concerns “has come to look like a massive mistake. Ecology and economy cannot be separated.” Yet Gross National Product (GNP) fails to include losses from environmental damage. A new Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) would take account of social and environmental factors not generally included in measuring economic progress. Thus, depletion of non-renewable resources and environmental damage – in fact, any expenditure of the earth's capital – would be part of an ISEW assessment.
Saturday 2nd April
Dr. Williams went on: “We know a little about the way in which economic ‘rationalisation' to meet World Bank requirements at the end of the ‘80s put pressure on Rwanda , contributing to the social rootlessness that leads to militarism. . . . We are slowly recognizing the role of population growth, environmental degradation and consequent land shortage in fuelling the conflicts that followed. Such problems cannot indefinitely drift on; sooner or later they are likely to resolve themselves, whether in the manner of Rwanda or in some other manner not of our choosing, if we don't succeed in solving them by our own actions. When we speak about environmental crisis, we are not thinking of spiralling poverty and mortality, but about brutal and uncontainable conflict. An economics that ignores environmental degradation invites social degradation – in plain terms, violence.”
He spoke of the urgency for some international regime to monitor and discipline economic activity. Yet government subsidies still fuel the erosion of topsoil, pollution from pesticides and the release of greenhouse gases. They fuel the unsustainable increase in air travel and road traffic. They fuel the over-harvesting of fish stocks and the depletion of forests. Dr. Williams added: “Election campaigns seldom give much space to environmental matters, but the perceived significance of these concerns is weightier now than it has ever been.”
Sunday 3rd April
O God of earth and altar, bow down and hear our cry,
Our earthly rulers falter, our people drift and die;
The walls of gold entomb us, the swords of scorn divide,
Take not thy thunder from us, but take away our pride.
From all that terror teaches, from lies of tongue and pen,
From all the easy speeches, that comfort cruel men,
From sale and profanation of honour and the sword,
From sleep and from damnation,
Deliver us, good Lord! (G.K. Chesterton)
Monday 4th April
According to the WWF Living Planet Report 2004, at present rates of growth of population and resource use, our species will require the biological production of more than two earth planets before 2050. Here follows an imaginary command to an imaginary ape-girl called Lucy:
“Already you can feed of plants and flesh,
And only two fruits grow beyond your reach.
Both now I give you. But remember this:
You must eat both together, or else none.
The tree of Knowledge has the sweetest fruit;
The fruit of Wisdom's bitter, green and hard.
But if you gorge upon the first alone,
Without the second fruit to balance it,
Your offspring shall be locusts in the spring.
They'll breed, and swarm, and feed, till, numberless,
They've stripped the land of everything that grows,
And, Earth once made a desert, die in heaps.
That brain will free you from my disciplines
Of claw and dearth and sickness for a time.
Control your numbers only, now you can,
And Earth shall always be your Paradise .”
And Lucy, awe-struck, grunted in her sleep;
And half-awoke, and jabbered to her mate,
And told him all that lingered from the dream.
“We'll eat the fruit of Knowledge, and we'll live
Like eagles, and like locusts numberless.
The Earth is ours.”
And so the legend passed.
And so the Fall of Man, a few years on,
Took place exactly as the Lord had said. (Roger Martin)
To contact the Optimum Population Trust, ring 01827 383437 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit: www.optimumpopulation.org
Tuesday 5th April
Hundreds of millions of people living in Asia rely on meltwater from Himalayan glaciers which feed the Ganges , Indus , Brahmaputra , Yangtse and Mekong rivers. A WWF report reveals that 67% of these glaciers are retreating at an average rate of 23 metres a year. “The rapid melting of Himalayan glaciers will first increase the volume of water in rivers, causing widespread flooding. But in a few decades . . . water levels in rivers will decline, causing massive economic and environmental problems for people in Western China , Nepal and Northern India . As glacier meltwater dwindles, the energy potential of hydroelectric power will decrease, causing problems for industry, while reduced irrigation means lower crop production.” WWF calls on countries to keep the rise in global temperature to 2oC. above pre-industrial levels. “Ministers should realize that the world faces an economic and environmental catastrophe if the rate of global warming is not reduced. They need to work together on reducing CO2 emissions, increasing the use of renewable energy and implementing energy efficiency measures.”
Wednesday 6th April
For countries unable, through lack of funds, to mitigate the effects of climate change, disaster relief becomes an urgent priority. The UK Working Group on Climate Change brings together major environmental and development agencies in a report called “Up In Smoke?” It recommends the following priorities:
An assessment of the costs of adaptation to climate change in poor countries;
New funds and other resources from industrialized countries, bearing in mind that their subsidies to their fossil-fuel industries stood at $73 billion a year in the late ‘90s;
Effective arrangements to respond to the burden of climate-related disaster relief;
Development models based on risk reduction and community-driven strategies in adaptation and disaster preparedness;
Disaster awareness campaigns produced at community level in local languages;
Plans at local and international level for relocating threatened communities with appropriate political, legal and financial resources;
Shared knowledge about how to build human and ecosystem resilience and live with the degree of global warming that is now unstoppable;
Do everything possible to stop dangerous climate change and help bring about a global solution that is fair and rooted in human equality.
For more detail visit: www.iied.org or www.neweconomics.org
Thursday 7th April
The tsunami has inspired a movement called “Adopt A Village”. In the small town of Nelson , British Columbia , the Kootenay Christian Fellowship has raised $10,000 to adopt a fishing village on India 's tsunami-stricken coast. In India , social service charities in Chennai ( Madras ) are adopting other fishing villages to provide low-cost housing for 500 families. 5 million people still need help to rebuild their lives and villages. If there was a website listing all the villages needing help, somewhere in the world there would be a town, village, Rotary Club, church, business or community that would step forward and say “We'll adopt that village.” What an opportunity for one of our computer wizards!
Friday 8th April
A WWF report “China's Wood Trade and the Environment” reveals that more than half the timber imported by China comes from countries such as Russia, Malaysia and Indonesia which are struggling with over-harvesting, felling of natural forests and illegal logging. WWF believes China 's demand for wood from other countries could be reduced by developing sustainable wood production in areas where logging is currently banned, by regulations to prevent the import of illegally-sourced wood and by co-operating with other nations to combat illegal trade in forest products. The report coincided with a meeting in Hongkong which launched the China Forest and Trade Network.
Saturday 9th April
Next week is designated Global Week of Action, when campaigners throughout the world:
Challenge the myth that free trade and privatization is the only answer to global poverty;
Challenge the agendas of the G8, IMF, WTO, World Bank and governments with trade policies that harm the poor;
Propose alternatives whereby countries can choose their own economic and trade policies that work to reduce poverty.
The message is: NO to the rich and powerful imposing unjust trade agreements, indiscriminate liberalization and privatization,
YES to everyone's right to food, a livelihood, water, health and education.
Churches across the UK will be welcoming the week with a Sunday service on trade justice.
Sunday 10th April
Father God, prayer is a mystery. We do not understand how it works or how our feeble petitions reach you. But we know that Jesus prayed and opened the way into your presence. Help us to follow his example and teaching, and to learn to pray more naturally, more readily and more often, and always in his Name. (Llewellyn Cummings)
Monday 11th April
Global average temperatures increased by 0.60C. during the 20th century. IPCC models predict a further increase of 1.40 – 5.80C. by 2100, depending largely on the scale of fossil-fuel burning. An increase beyond 20C. is likely to result in reduced crop yields in most tropical, sub-tropical and mid-latitude regions. Such an increase may trigger runaway global warming as the feedback effect of forest destruction causes further warming. It will certainly result in more flooding, declines in food production, an increase in diseases and the extinction of plants, animals and entire ecosystems.
Tuesday 12th April
What can we do? Most importantly, we can cut down on our use of fossil fuels. Is our air travel necessary? If so, can we offset the carbon emissions by supporting energy-saving projects? Can we reduce our gas and electricity consumption, or get better value from the energy that we do use? Average per capita carbon missions in the UK are around 10 tonnes a year. The Government's target for 2010 is around 8 tonnes per capita; that for 2050 is about 4 tonnes. However, until annual global emissions are reduced to 2 tonnes per capita, we continue to accelerate the rate of climate change. To calculate annual carbon emissions for individuals, use the National Energy Foundation's carbon calculator at: www.natenergy.org.uk/convert.htm or the Resurgence carbon calculator at: www.resurgence.org/carboncalculator
Wednesday 13th April
The average mileage per year of a petrol-fuelled car is 12,000 miles. This amounts to 4.3 tonnes of CO2 emissions. We can reduce this by shopping locally, sharing a car, using public transport or walking children to school etc. A saving of nearly 1 tonne a year would result from converting a car to liquid petroleum gas (LPG) which is less than half the price of petrol and contains fewer carcinogenic particles than diesel. There are 1192 LPG stations in Britain . Conversion costs are around £2,000, but the Energy Saving Trust provides grants of around £700 per car provided it is less than 5 years old. For details visit: www.transportenergy.org.uk/grantsavailable/powershift and www.lpga.co.uk
Thursday 14th April
A return flight to Athens emits about 1 tonne of CO2 per person, but as this is largely in the upper atmosphere, it is three times more damaging. Many travellers offset their CO2 emissions by contributing to tree-planting schemes or other sustainable projects. For example, Plan Vivo is a system for managing carbon offsets with local projects in Mexico , India , Mozambique and Uganda . One such project is the Nhambita Community Carbon Project in Mozambique which aims to offset 50,000 tonnes of CO2 by 2007. Working with local farmers, the project introduces sustainable land use systems, improves forest management and agricultural practices and provides alternative income opportunities. For more on Plan Vivo visit: www.planvivo.org
Friday 15th April
Climate Care is another organization which enables us to calculate our carbon emissions and to offset them with payments towards sustainable developments. Disused British coal mines release methane equivalent to about a million tonnes of CO2 each year. Climate Care is part-funding the installation of Stirling engines at selected methane vents to capture the methane for electricity generation. Another Climate Care project is at Kibale National Park in Western Uganda . Elephant grass is dominant in areas of cleared forest: now 30 species of native trees are to be planted to provide habitat for endangered primates including chimpanzees. The project will employ up to 400 local people and has been certified as sustainable by the Forest Stewardship Council. Website: www.climatecare.org
Saturday 16th April
Domestic Tradable Quotas (DTQs) are an economic instrument designed to enable nations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Assuming that a future international agreement will bind nations to targets of emission reductions, an annual “carbon budget” is allocated by governments to all their citizens. “Carbon units” are given freely and equally to all adults. When anyone purchases fuel or electricity, they surrender some of their carbon units. Any individual or organization having a surplus may sell the surplus on the open market. Anyone lacking the necessary carbon units simply asks the seller of fuel to purchase extra units on his behalf. Year by year the total carbon budget is reduced until the internationally-agreed target has been reached. A computer database holds the carbon unit account for all individuals and organizations. All transactions take place electronically.
Sunday 17th April
Lord God, who rulest the destinies of men and nations, we thank thee for every happening which draws the people of the world nearer together in fellowship and purpose.
Grant to all representatives of nations who confer together and on whose word and attitude so much depends, the guidance of thy Holy Spirit and the grace of humility, that they may be ready to see a point of view which differs from their own, and keep before them not only the welfare of their own nation as they see it, but thy will for the whole world. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Leslie Weatherhead)
Monday 18th April
On February 12th Sister Dorothy Stang of the Order of Notre Dame de Namur was shot dead while trying to protect part of the Amazonian rainforest from loggers and soybean farmers. The Government immediately declared two new conservation areas in Para State where Sister Dorothy had worked. They cover nearly 4 million hectares, while a further 8 million along a highway where illegal logging has already transformed the landscape will be “interdicted” while the Government decides how to preserve the area when the highway is upgraded. Sister Dorothy's murder was only one of 125 murders of peasant leaders and activists since President Lula da Silva took office 3 years ago. At Anapu, where Sister Dorothy worked, the number of sawmills has increased from 5 to 34 in only two years.
Tuesday 19th April
Abu Ghraib was once the home of Iraq 's main seed bank and plant breeding programme. When war broke out in 2003, a box containing a thousand seed varieties (ancient wheat breeds, chickpeas, lentils and fruits) was shipped to Aleppo , where it is housed by the International Center for Agricultural Research in Dry Areas. Among the seeds are varieties of crops with inbuilt resistance to extreme heat, drought and salinity. These will form the basis for plant breeding to restore Iraqi agriculture and end its reliance on food aid. By contrast, all Afghanistan 's agricultural research stations were bombed, looted or abandoned. Some seeds held abroad have been shipped back to Afghanistan in the hope of developing improved varieties of fruit trees. Almonds used to be an Afghan speciality with over 60 native varieties. Now researchers want almonds, along with saffron, cumin and other crops to replace opium poppies in a rural economy that is increasingly dependent on the drugs trade. One hectare of poppies currently earns farmers eight times as much as one hectare of wheat. For more, visit: www.newscientist.com
Wednesday 20th April
Forests have three major effects on the world's climate:
When cleared at the current rate, they contribute about 20% of global carbon emissions;
When managed sustainably, they can absorb about 10% of projected carbon emissions into their biomass, soils and products, and store them for ever;
They produce wood fuels as a benign alternative to fossil fuels.
But 80% of original forest cover has been cleared, fragmented or otherwise degraded. Forests are still being cleared at a rate of 23 hectares a minute. The Kyoto Protocol allows forests to be used as a “carbon store” to help countries reduce carbon emissions. However, the faster a tree grows, the more credits can be gained under the Protocol. This is an incentive to plant fast-growing industrial plantations which can generate poverty, damage food security, deplete water and soil resources and reduce biological diversity. Planting trees rather than reducing emissions from fossil fuels will not save the global climate and will do little to protect biodiversity.
Thursday 21st April
Over a third of the world's people burn biomass for cooking and heating – wood, crop residues, charcoal and dung. In Africa , the proportion is 73%. However, the smoke from open fires and rudimentary stoves is linked to 1.6 million deaths a year. Switching to a cleaner fuel such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), kerosene or modern biofuels is too costly for most people, although biomass can be used as a clean, affordable and environmentally-friendly source of energy. ITDG is working in Sudan , Kenya and Nepal to select solutions for local needs. In Sudan , microfinance is available to cover the cost of LPG stoves; in Kenya , smoke hoods over fuel-efficient stoves enable people to continue burning wood; in Nepal , home insulation reduces the need to burn wood for space heating.
Friday 22nd April
On Sagar Island off the coast of West Bengal , 200,000 people spread over 43 villages benefit from nine solar PV power plants that provide grid-quality electricity. The West Bengal Renewable Energy Development Agency, which runs the system, works with local co-operatives to maintain it. Now Gan Chaudhuri, the Ashden Award-winning director of the Agency, has added a wind/diesel power plant to the energy mix. The project also integrates power with water supply systems, bringing drinking water to every home. Jobs have been created as new lighting and power allows local businesses, markets and home workers to work more cleanly, efficiently and safely outside daylight hours. Source: “The Price of Energy” (New Economics Foundation)
Saturday 23rd April
When climate-related disasters strike, the few funds readily available are often inequitably distributed and arrive too late on the scene. Benito Muller of the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies proposes a multi-lateral Climate Impact Relief Fund (CIRF) which would collect contributions from governments and other donors before disasters occur. The proposed CIRF:
Could reduce suffering for many people affected by climate change through more timely and efficient delivery of relief aid;
Could add to or complement the drive to provide funds for adaptation to global warming, and prevention and preparedness;
Builds on the existing specialist knowledge and expertise of emergency and humanitarian agencies;
Helps to promote global climate justice and equity with a tacit recognition of the disproportionate burden of climate impacts on least developed countries.
Source: “Up In Smoke?”
Sunday 24th April
Dear Father, we thank you for this lovely world which you have given us to look after. Teach us how to conserve your handiwork. Show us how to fill our surroundings with Christ-like deeds and to devote our time and resources to restoring what has gone amiss.
Monday 25th April
7 million people on Pacific islands are threatened by the impact of human-induced climate changes. Fifty representatives from the Pacific Conference of Churches met last year on the small island state of Kiribati . The Otin Taai Declaration (otin taai means sunrise in the Kiribati language) called on church-related ministries to integrate climate change and adaptation projects into their policy development, education and advocacy. Churches were also asked to encourage companies that are major producers or consumers of fossil fuels to support a transition towards less carbon-intensive economies, reduced energy usage and the development of cleaner, renewable energy sources.
Source: Columban Faith and Justice.
Tuesday 26th April
Environmental refugees, often driven by our fossil fuel-intensive lifestyles, are forced to cross borders because of environmental factors such as extreme weather events, drought and desertification. According to Norman Myers, there were 25 million of them by the end of the ‘90s: by 2050, mostly due to the likely effects of global warming, there could 150 million, of whom 20 million will be from Bangladesh . At least five island states are at risk of disappearing. Should they have new sovereign lands carved out for them in other states? Without proper environmental refugee status, will the world have to create little Israels for the environmentally displaced? Or would they become the first true World Citizens? If there is no state left, how can the state protect its citizens? There is need for an international treaty defining the special status and rights of environmental refugees forced to flee their country because it has ceased to exist or cannot meet their needs due to the impact of climate change. Source: “Environmental refugees: the case for recognition”
(New Economics Foundation)
Wednesday 27th April
A key component of the drive to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels is to re-use or recycle as much as possible. Government figures show that 17.7% of our household waste was recycled in 2003/4. The Government's target is a recycling rate of 30% of household waste by 2010 and 33% by 2015. The recycling rate for municipal waste was 19% in 2003/4 – far behind our European neighbours such as Holland (59%), Austria (58%) and Germany (53%). In Kent , the Vines Centre Trust is a church-inspired series of projects for recycling electrical appliances collected from homes in Medway. It trains young people to refurbish them for distribution to low-income homes in Kent and to schools in Romania , with other projects in Africa , India and Eastern Europe . For details ring 01634 290272 or e-mail: email@example.com or visit: www.vinescentre.org.uk
Thursday 28th April
Research by geologists Bruce Wilkinson of Michigan University and Roger Hooke of the University of Maine has found that human agriculture, mining and excavations shift ten times as much of the earth's surface materials as all natural processes put together. It takes 500 years for natural soil-forming processes to replace one inch of soil, whereas human earthworks and agriculture lead to a current average loss rate of about 360 metres in a million years. That's enough to fill the Grand Canyon in about 50 years. Modern agricultural techniques have led to a decline in the amount of earth moved per person, but population growth far outweighs the effect of such improvements.
Friday 29th April
Everyone has an equal stake in the global atmosphere, yet, according to the New Economics Foundation, people in wealthy nations are using up far more than their fair share of the global atmospheric budget. In doing so, and by not paying for the consequences of global warming, rich countries are running up huge ecological debts to the poor, majority world. Action so far has been confined by the limited ambitions of the Kyoto Protocol and the failure of governments even to stick to that. Many well-intentioned campaigners have been drawn into the bureaucratic framework of the Protocol, losing sight of the pressing need to deliver radical reductions in global greenhouse gas emissions that are both politically feasible and allow for poor countries to meet their citizens' basic needs. The policy implications of ecological debt suggest a fundamental realignment of power and responsibility between nations. The concept turns upside down the debates on poor country debt and on global warming. It puts poor people and poor countries on the international moral high ground, and in the strongest position to argue for a better deal.
Saturday 30th April
The Club of Budapest was founded by Professor Ervin Laszlo to implement global solutions to problems that face the entire human family. Its members include the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Mikhail Gorbachev, Jane Goodall and Mary Robinson. Recognising that the tsunami catastrophe touched the entire community in a way never before experienced, it asks: Do we accept that the world is so unequally and unjustly divided that in some countries there are no early warning systems to avert major catastrophes whether they are of natural or human origin; that there are no adequate infrastructures for assuring human dignity for all people; that only the actual occurrence of a catastrophe involving millions of people can touch the hearts of the rest of humanity?
Or will we seize the opportunity to learn from the experience of a major tragedy to develop the vision and the solidarity to see all humanity as one family, and to re-order our priorities and re-structure our relations accordingly?
It invites all thinking people to call jointly for a global dialogue on the means to create an inclusive and sustainable civilization. For further information, ring 02182-886109 or fax 02182-886119 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.clubofbudapest.org
“Up In Smoke?” publ. New Economics Foundation
Jackdaw (Optimum Population Trust)
Friends of the Earth