“And God saw everything that he had made and, behold, it was very good.”
“Prayer is the deliberate and persevering action of the soul. It is true and enduring , and full of grace. Prayer fastens the soul to God and makes it one with his will, through the deep inward working of the Holy Spirit. Everything our good Lord makes us to pray for, he has ordained that we should have since before time began. When we come to heaven, our prayers shall be waiting for us as part of our delight, with endless joyful thanks from God.”
(Mother Julian of Norwich )
Sunday 1st May
“The earth is the Lord's and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” (Psalm 24)
We cry to you, Lord, protect your creation; defend the work of your hands.
Save our generation from our addiction to fossil fuels.
Wash our hands of their clutch on dirty energy.
Clean our hearts of our desire for more and more.
Turn our souls away from materialism and our desires from taking and taking from your sacred, limited world.
Give us a vision of the blessings we will receive if we turn away from idolatry of the economy and bow to wisdom and truth.
Let us see that true happiness rests in enjoying your earth as you intended, not according to the lies of the enemy.
Show us that a kinder and simpler lifestyle will allow us to see your glory more clearly. Let your glory shine through your kingdom.
Monday 2nd May
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA), which took 1360 scientists from 95 countries four years to complete, was the first-ever global inventory of the world's natural resources.
Its conclusion: We are living way beyond our means.
Some key findings:
Human activity has changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively in the past 50 years than at any other time in human history. This was largely to meet growing demands for food, fresh water, timber, fibre and fuel. More land was converted to agriculture since 1945 than in the 18th & 19th centuries combined. More than half of all synthetic nitrogen fertilisers ever used has been used since 1985, resulting in a largely irreversible loss of biodiversity, with 10-30% of mammal, bird & amphibian species currently threatened with extinction;
Gains in human well-being and economic development have been achieved at growing costs in the degradation of other services. Capture fisheries and fresh water abstraction are well beyond levels that can sustain current, much less future, demands.
Degradation of ecosystem services is a barrier to the UN Millennium Development Goals. Changes in ecosystems such as deforestation increase human pathogens such as malaria and cholera. Malaria accounts for 11% of diseases in Africa . If it had been eliminated 35 years ago, Africa 's GDP would have increased by $100 billion.
Reversing the degradation of ecosystems while meeting increasing demands will involve significant policy and institutional changes; these are large and not currently under way. Ecosystems can be enhanced, for example, by protection of natural forests, which not only conserves wildlife but also supplies fresh water and reduces carbon emissions.
Tuesday 3rd May
According to the MA report: “Any progress achieved in addressing the goals of poverty & hunger eradication, improved health, and environmental protection is unlikely to be sustained if most of the ecosystem services on which humanity relies continue to be degraded.” The report calls for significant changes in policy, including tax incentives, changes in consumption and new technology. FoE calls for major changes in the global economic system, including:
Greater government intervention in the economy to manage resource consumption and limit pollution;
New trade rules to help governments protect the environment and their peoples and to strengthen global environmental agreements;
Greater regulation of transnational corporations to make company directors liable for the environmental damage they do.
Wednesday 4th May
According to the UN State of World Population Report 2004, a rapidly growing consumer class, now around 1.7 billion people, accounts for the vast majority of meat eating, paper use, car driving and energy use, as well as the resulting impact of these activities on natural resources. As populations surge in developing countries and as the world economy becomes increasingly globalised, more and more people have the means to acquire a greater diversity of products & services than ever before. Meanwhile, 2.8 billion people – 2 in every 5 – still struggle to survive on less than $2 a day.
Thursday 5th May
“All it takes for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)
Father, we pray that you will send your Holy Spirit on our country this day, that all who are elected to Parliament may be granted your special gifts of wisdom and understanding, of counsel and strength; so that, upholding what is right, and following what is true, they may seek to obey your holy will and to fulfil your divine purposes, for the sake of your Son, who died for us all. Amen.
Friday 6th May
The European Christian Environmental Network is meeting now at Basel , where 120 lay people, theologians, scientists and an MEP are seeking to further two aims:
to reach a clearer understanding of the political decisions and practical actions needed if the ecological basis of human life is to be sustained;
to equip participants to bring to their churches ideas for promoting greener lifestyles and supporting government measures.
The theme of the Assembly (4-9 May) is ‘The Churches' Contribution to a Sustainable Europe' There are working groups on Climate Change, Transport, Eco-management, Water, Education, Creation Theology and Church contributions to a Sustainable Europe. http://www.ecen.org/oldsite/baselasy.shtml . Seventeen people from many different parts of, and from the different denominations of Britain and Ireland will be there.
Saturday 7th May
According to the UN State of World Population report, the size & weight of the “environmental footprint” each of us plants on the Earth is determined by the ways we use resources, which affects the quantities we consume. A vegetarian who primarily uses a bicycle has a smaller impact than someone who eats meat and drives a sports utility vehicle. The environmental footprint of someone in a high income country is about 6 times bigger than that of someone in a low-income country, and many times bigger than in the least-developed countries. Even though the US population is a quarter that of India's, its environmental footprint is 3 times bigger – it releases 15.7 million tons of carbon a year into the atmosphere compared with India's 4.9 million tons.
Sunday 8th May
“To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world.” (Karl Barth)
Dear Lord, how desperately we need to learn to pray. And yet, when we are honest, we know that often we do not even want to pray. We are distracted, stubborn, self-centred.
In your mercy, Lord, bring our “want-er” more in line with our “need-er”, so that we can come to want what we need. In Jesus' name and for his sake, we pray.
Monday 9th May
According to Richard Tomkins, writing in the Financial Times: “The industrial revolution …. brought ordinary people comfortable homes, plentiful food and clean water; shopping and entertainment; transport, healthcare and education; and longer lives. It also brought satiety. But this could never be admitted. Think of the implications! Without demand for ever more stuff, there would be no economic growth, company profits would stagnate and progress as we know it would cease. So we invented the consumer society to generate new desires for things we never knew we needed: Jimmy Choo shoes, rainforest adventure holidays and pyjamas for our dogs. Deep down, though, I think all but the poorest of us know we have enough. Indeed, many of western society's problems – obesity, traffic congestion and the agony of choice – arise from surfeit rather than want. For business, the notion of satiety is downright scary. Markets for most products are nearing saturation and it is difficult to find any further unmet needs.
True, new technology is producing new toys, but for many manufacturers of consumer products, satiety is an alarming reality. Their response has been to present consumers with ceaseless novelty, perpetually reformulating and repackaging their products, extending the range with new variants, flavours and colours or extending the brand into other product areas.” For the complete article e-mail: email@example.com
Tuesday 10th May
A study by Professors Jules Pretty & Tim Lang published in “Food Policy” finds that more than £4 billion could be saved if all farms were organic, farm subsidies were abolished and all consumers shopped locally, preferably on their bikes. “Food miles” are much more significant than previously thought. Supermarkets should label their products with their “food miles”. “They have invested billions in a hyper-efficient, just-in-time system of food distribution, but actually it's cuckoo. This is an area where consumers are suffering an information deficit.” 28% of road freight is food or produce – 23% more than 20 years ago and travelling 65% further. Each of us makes, on average, 221 shopping trips a year, each averaging 6.4 km. £2.1 billion could be saved if all food was locally sourced. Hidden farm subsidies cost up to £2.1 billion, while organic farming would abolish the expense of removing pesticides from water supplies (£250 million a year) as well as costs arising from pollution, soil loss and human & animal health, resulting in a saving of £1.1 billion a year.
Wednesday 11th May
According to Nicols Fox, author of “Against the Machine”, efficiency, far from being a silver bullet to combat climate change, is the driving force for ever more gluttonous consumption patterns and all their health & environment consequences. “Doing more with less has not translated into using less, but into doing more and using more. Decreased production costs have meant that the potential for accumulating consumer goods has increased for all; more clothing, more household goods, more gizmos & trinkets, bigger houses with more bathrooms. As household gadgetry becomes more efficient and demands less power, we've simply increased the number and complexity of gadgets. Do we really need electronic dartboards and rotating tie-racks? Better insulated houses have not led to people using less fuel: now they can be warmer than previously expected and use the same amount of fuel, or more.
As fishing fleets employ new technologies, people eat more fish and stocks are depleted. As timber harvesting has progressed to feller-bunchers (huge mechanized monsters that cut, strip & stack logs at astonishing rates), forests are depleted at a pace that makes sustainability impossible.
Yet efficiency has yielded real disasters. It was in pursuit of efficiency that agri-business came up with the idea that recycling diseased animals into feed for cattle was good for beef & milk production. Efficient transportation by air means that diseases can be spread halfway round the world in a matter of hours. Trucks and trade efficiently facilitated the spread of the Aids virus; now we are threatened with bird ‘flu.
“If time has become a tyrant, the cult of efficiency is to blame. Most things that people really enjoy, the essentials of living and loving, aren't efficient at all.”
Thursday 12th May
Satish Kumar, in his 2004 Schumacher lecture, explored practical steps to transform the drive for efficiency into something more productive:
First, the removal of a sense of insecurity, ambition to be successful, desire to prove ourselves, efforts to impress others, craving to be in control, addiction to shopping, consuming & possessing – all summed up in one word – FEAR.
The Twin Towers proved that ultimately all defences are futile. Western societies are obsessed with safety & try to insure themselves against every eventuality. Such obsession has a paralysing effect.
The antidote: “Understand fear and cultivate trust. Trust yourself: you embody the divine spark, the creative impulse, the power of imagination that will always be with you & protect you. Trust others: they long for love as much as you do. Give love and love will be reciprocated. Give fear and fear will be reciprocated. Sow a seed of thistles and you will get hundreds of thorny thistles. Sow a seed of camellia and you will get hundreds of camellia flowers.”
Friday 13th May
The second quality, according to Kumar, is participation. Life is a miracle. We can't explain it, but we can actively participate in it without trying to control, manipulate or subjugate it. We have been given two wonderful hands to cultivate the soil and grow our food. Baking bread, cooking food, sharing the meal with family, friends & guests are as much spiritual as they are social and economic activities. If we wish to restore our spirituality, we have to slow down. Time is what makes things perfect.
Saturday 14th May
Kumar's third quality is gratitude. The culture of blame and complaining pervades our nation, right from Parliament, through the media, to our own sense of self-worth. “I had a terrible childhood.” “I hated school.” “I'm never appreciated.” – we hear it all the time. Kumar asks us to recognize the gifts we receive from our ancestors, our parents, our teachers, our colleagues and society in general. When we are in awe in wonder at the workings of God's earth, we can feel nothing but blessed and grateful. From gratitude flows humility, just as arrogance comes from complaining and criticism. If we conclude that nature is imperfect and unreliable, we go to great lengths to improve on it, but we end up destroying it. With a sense of gratitude, we go with the grain of nature, we work in harmony with it, and we appreciate its miraculous qualities.
Sunday 15th May
Father, we know that listening is hard for us. We are so action-oriented, so product driven, that doing is easier for us than being. We need your help if we are to be still and listen. We would like to try, to learn how to sink into the light of your presence until we can be comfortable in that light. Help us, Father, to try now.
Amen. (Richard Foster)
Monday 16th May
The Kyoto Protocol, according to New Zealand minister Pete Hodgson, is an important first step “because we are discovering the price of carbon and are therefore able to turn an environmental issue progressively into an economic one. Yet the Protocol by itself won't be enough because too few countries are involved with targets, and the targets are too light.” Climate experts from the US have met government & business leaders from Australia & New Zealand to discuss a Pew Center plan for combatting global warming outside the Kyoto Protocol, and for drawing in countries like China and India which will need more flexibility than is available under Kyoto . Is there a danger, however, in a two-track approach to global warming, that some countries will seek a short-term economic advantage at the expense of the world at large?
Tuesday 17th May
At the recent UN Conference on Disaster Reduction in Kobe , Japan , Munich Re, the re-insurance giant, presented a report called “Megacities – Megarisks” which put London as the 9th most vulnerable city to disasters. However, Tokyo is the insurers' “nightmare city” with San Francisco and Los Angeles as a distant 2nd & 3rd. Presumably coastal cities elsewhere are of less concern to the profit-orientated insurance industry.
Last summer two-thirds of Bangladesh , along with much of Assam & Bihar, was under water, with over 50 million people affected and tens of thousands suffering from diarrhoea as sewage mingled with floodwater. The rice crop was severely damaged and 20 million people are likely to need food aid until the next harvest. Agencies such as Christian Aid, ITDG and Oxfam are working with local people to provide better flood defences, but far more resources will be needed in future.
Wednesday 18th May
While onshore wind farms continue to arouse controversy in Britain , India is rapidly catching up Germany , Spain , USA & Denmark in terms of installed wind power and is expected to treble its capacity to 7,000 MSW. by 2008.
The planning enquiry into a proposed wind farm at Whinash , Cumbria , is crucial to the future of wind farms in rural areas, weighing the visual impact of the turbines against the benefits of tackling climate change by producing significant amounts of renewable energy. Neither English Nature nor the RSPB is objecting.
Thursday 19th May
All 550 homes in an urban regeneration project at Beswick, Manchester , will be equipped with a micro-combined heat & power system (mCHP). Gledhill's BoilerMate thermal store will be linked to Powergen's gas-powered mCHP unit. When the mCHP unit is running to provide electricity, the BoilerMate allows the heat output to be stored for use when required. Energy bills will be cut by £150 a year and CO2 emissions by around 20%. Surplus electricity can be sold back to Powergen and additional power brought in when required. The technology could become the new standard in UK homes. For details visit: www.gledhill.net or www.powergen.co.uk or www.lovell.co.uk
Friday 20th May
Britain's first community-owned, mains-connected wind farm has opened on the Hebridean island of Gigha, producing 2 GW of power a year, enough to meet over two-thirds of the island's needs. The three turbines are operated by Gigha Renewable Energy which sells the power to Green Energy UK . The expected profits (over £75,000 a year) will be ploughed back into the community once capital costs have been met. Highlands & Islands Enterprise has set up a community energy company to replicate the scheme in other communities around Scotland . Websites: www.gigha.org.uk & www.greenenergy.uk.com
Saturday 21st May
The pressure group ACT (Active Citizens Transform) secured the introduction of a Climate Change Bill into the last Parliament, sponsored by Michael Meacher, John Gummer and Norman Baker. The Bill seeks to:
place a legal duty on the Prime Minister to report on and achieve annual statutory targets for the reduction of CO2 emissions by 3% a year until 2050;
specify the procedures if the annual targets are not met;
require MPs to report to their constituents on what they have done to prevent climate change and to hold the government to account;
set legal targets for energy efficiency, the generation of energy from renewable sources, combined heat & power and micro-generation.
The Bill will be re-introduced next month and we are all encouraged to ensure that our MPs support the Bill so as to ensure its passage into law. Website: www.actnetwork.org.uk
Sunday 22nd May
We thank you, Lord, for the worldwide fellowship of your Church. Break down the barriers that divide her, and in her crusade against evil make her more powerfully one. Kindle our minds with the knowledge that your Church cannot fail, and that we are part of a great fellowship which no man can number both in heaven and on earth.
Come to us now, Father God. Let there be words for us which call us back to you and which meet our deep and desperate need. For you are the Reality behind all seeming, the Fulfilment of all our deepest longing and the Answer to all our prayers, in the name of your son, Jesus Christ. Amen. (Leslie Weatherhead – adapted)
Monday 23rd May
Two studies by researchers at the National Center for Atmospheric Research at Boulder , Colorado , have found that, even if concentrations of greenhouse gases were frozen at present levels, the earth would warm by an additional 0.50C. by 2100 and sea levels would rise by about 10 cm., even without the effects of ice cap & glacier melting: a better estimate would be 20-30 cm. – not much, people might think, but enough to trigger extreme high tide & storm surge effects. However, by fixing the rates of emission increase rather than their concentrations, a range of warming from 20 to 60 per century was predicted and a sea level rise of at least 25 cm. per century.
A recent report from the International Climate Change Task Force indicates that a rise of 20C. over pre-industrial temperatures would bring more extreme heat waves, storms and flooding, so intensifying crop failures, drought and disease worldwide.
Tuesday 24th May
The Government's new Code for Sustainable Buildings, promoted by WWF as part of its Million Sustainable Homes campaign, will play an important role in building programmes for the Thames Gateway and other major developments. To convey the right messages to the building industry, the Ecobuild Exhibition is being held today and tomorrow in London , focussing on the challenges faced by planners, builders and investors in delivering a greener future for Britain 's towns & cities. For more information visit:
www.ecobuild.co.uk or ring Jayne Van Hoen on 020 8822 6918.
Wednesday 25th May
In the next two years there will be large-scale testing of devices to generate wave and tidal energy in Australia , Britain , Denmark , Norway , Portugal and USA . The Carbon Trust believes it possible to install up to 20 GW. of wave and tide capacity in the UK by 2050, i.e. about a quarter of our current power generation capacity. One device, Ocean Power Delivery's Palamis or sea snake, now being tested on Orkney, is already generating the first offshore wave power in the UK grid. Other alternatives are being tested and results will be known this autumn. Paul Jordan, Programme Manager of the Carbon Trust, says: “The right incentive structure coupled with a quick and effective site consenting process has to be in place within the next 6 months for the leading start-up marine energy companies to receive those much-needed first orders. This is a fantastic opportunity for business as well as the environment, and if done in the right way could cement Britain 's position as a world leader.” Website: www.thecarbontrust.co.uk
Thursday 26th May
The idea of offsetting carbon emissions by planting thousands of trees began five years ago. Now, Future Forests and Climate Care between them have signed up a host of customers including the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA), Norwich Union & the Energy Saving Trust. Adding 40 p. to the cost of a £10 air ticket seems a light price to pay for a clear green conscience. Climate Care finds that 70% of contributions are earmarked for investment in renewable energy, while Future Forests has a 50-50 mix between planting trees and investing in solar power. Websites: www.climatecare.org and www.futureforests.com
Friday 27th May
The Andrew Lees Memorial Award, in memory of the notable environmental campaigner, was presented by Sir David King, Chief Scientific Adviser to the Government, to Dusty Gedge, a campaigner who helped turn London 's docklands into a wildlife haven by persuading developers to install thousands of square metres of greenery on rooftops. The planted roofs soak up rainwater, helping to prevent flooding as well as improving air quality and conserving energy, as the roofs act as an extra layer of insulation.
Saturday 28th May
Fisheries off West Africa generate £220 million a year and are critical to the lives of more than 600,000 local people. But European fishing fleets are causing lower catches and lower incomes for people who are already on the borderline of poverty. WWF is helping European and African governments to re-assess the fisheries agreements in the light of EU development policy. Its primary goal is to help the people of Senegal and Gambia to negotiate more equitable and sustainable fisheries agreements with the EU.
Sunday 29th May
“On this rock I will build my Church and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.” (Matthew 16.18)
Almighty God, tear down Satan's strongholds in our lives, in the lives of those we love, and in the society in which we live. Arm us with the weapons of truth, righteousness, peace, salvation, your Word and of prayer. Equip us with your authority to expel every evil influence from our land. Give us an increase of faith, hope and love, so that, by your power, we can shine as a light on a hill, bringing truth and justice to all whom we meet.
These things we pray for the sake of him who loved us and gave himself for us. Amen.
Monday 30th May
China 's economic boom means that its oil consumption is likely to grow by 10% a year for the foreseeable future. The Beijing government has already invested £8 billion in oil developments in Sudan and is dependent on Sudanese oil for 7% of its oil imports. Without its oil revenues, the Sudanese government could not maintain the armed forces which have so devastated the province of Dharfur . Last month China signed a “strategic partnership” with Nigeria , a major oil producer, and already has oil interests in at least three African countries. The quest for oil has repeatedly provoked conflict. Angola , for example, has vast oil reserves. Oil executives live cocooned in opulent surroundings, while two-thirds of the people living in Luanda , the capital, have no access to clean drinking water and Angola lies at the bottom of the UN Human Development Index.
Tuesday 31st May
The world now consumes 6 barrels of oil for every barrel found. Discoveries of oil peaked in the 1960s and new discoveries are getting fewer and smaller. High oil prices have repeatedly brought temporary recessions, but within a decade, the amount of oil that can be produced will drop, never to recover. Some of the oil companies, notably Shell and BP, are already preparing for this scenario. Yet World Bank investment in the fossil fuel industries still forms 94% of its energy investment, with only 6% earmarked for renewables.
A new Greenpeace International report, Solar Generation II, finds that solar power could provide electricity for 1 billion people by 2020 and 20% of all global energy needs by 2040. The report puts the eventual value of the industry at 62 billion euros and sees it creating jobs for more than 2.2 million people. Website: www.epia.org
Other sources: The Ecologist
“Prayer” by Richard Foster (Hodder & Stoughton)