“Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up . . . . (Luke 18.1)
“God pours his redemptive power into the world through the funnel of his people's prayers. The more that is made, the more power gets through. In some situations God does not move except in response to the prayers of his people.” (W.E. Sangster)
“We abuse the land because we regard it as a commodity belonging to us. When we see land as a community to which we belong, we may begin to use it with love and respect.” (Aldo Leopold)
Wednesday 1st June
Launching the UN Water for Life Decade 2005-2015, Kofi Annan, UN Secretary General, said that around 4,000 children die every day because the only water they can used is unhealthy, contaminated and unfit for human use. Target 10 of the internationally-agreed Millennium Development Goals is to halve by 2015 the number of people without sustainable access to safe drinking and basic sanitation. The aim of the Water for Life Decade is to infuse a sense of urgency among all stakeholders and to scale-up the participation of civil society (i.e. you and me) to build greater commitment to achieving the Water for Life goals.
Thursday 2nd June
Other water-related issues include:
The use of water for agriculture. An inadequate supply leads to deprivation, hardship and starvation for millions. Crops become diseased or stunted through lack of nutrition;
Women and children, who cover huge distances to collect and haul precious water, often resulting in ill-health and shortened lives and, for the children, lack of education.
Conflicts, which occur when water supplies are depleted, both within communities and between nations and races as people strive to harness a shared resource.
HRH Prince Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands observed that “the world water crisis is a crisis of governance – not one of scarcity. No single type of intervention has greater impact on economic development than the provision of safe water and proper sanitation.”
Friday 3rd June
“Outgrowing the Earth”, a new book by Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute, points out that more people have been added to the world population since 1950 than during the preceding 4 million years. An extra 76 million people are added to the population each year. Half of them live in countries where water tables are falling at an alarming rate and wells are running dry. “Historically it was the supply of land which constrained food production: today, shortage of water is a bigger barrier.” As a result, grain stocks are at their lowest level in 30 years. China 's annual grain production has declined by 50 million tonnes since 1998. This is an amount equal to the whole annual production of Canada . Hitherto China has drawn on its once massive stocks of grain, but these are near depletion. “Another world grain shortfall in 2005 could send world food prices into uncharted territory.”
Saturday 4th June
Tomorrow is World Environment Day and also Environment Sunday, when special services are held around Britain . This year's theme is Noah's Ark – with flexible worship material for liturgical, informal and all-age worship, as well as sermons, bible studies, children's activities and practical suggestions. Packs cost £5 and can be ordered by e-mail from: email@example.com or by phone from 020 8574 5935 or by post from: A Rocha UK, 13 Avenue Road, Southall , UB1 3BL .
Sunday 5th June
“With the Lord there is mercy, and with him abundant redemption, and he will redeem Israel from all his iniquities.” (Psalm 129.7)
Fence round the whole creation, Christ our Saviour, with the mighty strength of your love for humankind, and deliver the earth we inhabit from the corruption which threatens it; for we, your servants, have set our hopes on you.
(from ECEN liturgy 2005)
Monday 6th June
Last month's meeting of the European Christian Environmental Network (ECEN) sent this message to every church and congregation in Europe , calling on them:
To celebrate Creation Time in our worship during September and October each year. Creation Day is suggested for September 1st;
To rediscover the Eucharist as the place where God is already healing creation;
To promote education for sustainable living in our churches, in our communities and in the national curriculum;
To play our part in tackling climate change by reducing our energy consumption and using green electricity;
To form relationships of eco-justice with communities in the South who are affected by our profligate lifestyle;
To change the way we travel, dramatically reducing car use and air travel, and promoting alternatives;
To manage our church life sustainably, by implementing policies on energy efficiency, purchasing, waste, land and finance;
To value water, by using it carefully and advocating its availability for the benefit of all creation;
To learn about, protect and enjoy the diversity of nature around us.
Tuesday 7th June
ECEN addressed this message to leaders of the G8 Summit meeting next month at Gleneagles , Scotland :
Bringing together representatives and members of Christian churches across Europe – Anglican, Orthodox, Protestant, Old Catholic and Roman Catholic – whose membership comprises many millions of European citizens, we are deeply concerned by the growing impact of human-induced climate change on our planet, its inhabitants and ecosystems – God's creation – and by the need for justice for those people and environments that are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
These concerns derive from the Bible and our traditions and have challenged our churches to engage in projects for the reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. We recognise that voluntary efforts and present policies are not enough to prevent disasters resulting from climate change. We urge you as G8 leaders whose nations account for almost half the world's GHG emissions to seize this opportunity to agree on
Decisive action now for rapid GHG emission reduction and
An outline architecture for committed global action post-2012, including sharp reduction of GHG emissions in the G8 countries and financial commitments for adaptation measures in the South.
We pray for the effective outcome of your deliberations.
Wednesday 8th June
Meeting at UN Headquarters in New York last month, institutional investors managing $3.22 trillion of funds demanded, in their Call for Action,
The unlocking of $1 billion in capital for investment in clean technology;
An insistence, from capital market regulators, on more rigorous corporate disclosure of climate risks.
The meeting followed news from Munich Re that economic losses from natural catastrophes totalled $44 billion in 2004, the highest ever recorded, while Swiss Reinsurance published statistics showing that 2004 was a record year for claims resulting from hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons.
Thursday 9th June
Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that GHG emissions rose by 1.6% in 2003, mainly due to increased emissions from coal-fired power stations and a decrease in imported electricity from France . Emissions from transport and communications were 48.4% higher in 2003 than in 1990. Total energy consumption was 10.8% higher. FoE comments: “The Government's Climate Change Review, due soon, must spell out clear policies for tackling rising emissions. Tough decisions are required on transport, energy efficiency and renewables. Has Tony Blair got the political courage to carry them through?”
Friday 10th June
Andrew Skipp, managing director of Bristol International Airport , said in March: “BIA is prepared to pay its environmental costs.” FoE duly presented the bill. This showed that BIA causes more CO2 emissions than all the cars in Bristol . It would need a forest eight times bigger than Bristol to absorb this much CO2. The airport still plans to double the number of passengers by 2020, so doubling its emissions. Jeremy Birch of Bristol FoE said: “The UK is committed to cutting its impact on the climate. Uncontrolled airport expansion rides roughshod over this. The airline industry should pay duty on aviation fuel and be forced to price journeys according to the cost to the planet.”
Saturday 11th June
Last month campaigners from Ghana , Nigeria , Georgia and Guatemala met UK MPs to explain how government aid for fossil fuel and mining projects is exacerbating poverty and fuelling climate change. $75 million of development aid, for example, supports the West African Gas Pipeline being built to carry gas from Nigeria to Ghana , while energy resources are being diverted from communities which do not even have electricity. FoE argues that pipelines and gold mines have generally worsened the situation for the poor, leading to human rights abuse, environmental degradation, loss of livelihoods and an increase in HIV/AIDS.
Sunday 12th June
Father, help us to grasp the truth that without prayer there is no power. Help us to avoid the barrenness of too much busyness, but to find the fruitfulness that comes alone through prayer.
Monday 13th June
Over 26,000 sq. kms. of Amazon rainforest were lost last year – more than half the size of Switzerland and the second highest annual loss ever recorded. 17% of the natural vegetation of the Brazilian Amazon has already been devastated, despite government objectives, set out in 2003, to reduce deforestation. WWF says that the policies of the Brazilian government encourage real estate speculation within forest areas, so as to expand cattle ranching and industrial-scale farming. This causes environmental and social devastation through illegal land clearance, exploitation of workers and criminal activities. A Brazilian correspondent believes the Amazon rainforest “must be delivered into the hands of those who can responsibly administer and take care of it. The Amazon rainforest is one of the most precious gifts that nature gave to humankind and we should not stand aside and let it be destroyed.” Would that the investors who issued their “Call for Action” (June 8th) might sit up, take note and act accordingly.
Tuesday 14th June
The UK takes over the EU presidency in July and has identified action on illegal logging as one of its top environmental priorities. In April some 70 European companies, including B & Q, Homebase, Habitat and IKEA, joined WWF and Greenpeace in urging the EU to adopt legislation to outlaw imports of illegally-sourced timber and woods products. JohnWhite, Chief Executive of the UK Timber Trade Federation, said: “Cheap imports of illegal timber and the non-compliance of some firms with basic environmental standards destabilise international markets, threaten jobs and create unfair competition. Without a clear European legal framework, companies that behave responsibly and want to invest in sustainable practices will always be disadvantaged.”
Wednesday 15th June
Wyevale Garden Centres has agreed, following Greenpeace action, to stop selling garden furniture from South-East Asia 's last rainforests, to remove all Burmese teak products from their stores and within 3 years to sell only wood furniture certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. B & Q, Tesco, Asda and Woolworths already sell only garden furniture certified by the FSC, but Argos still sells furniture from Indonesia , where nearly 90% of logging is thought to be illegal. Meanwhile, in response to the Finnish Government's decision to start new logging operations in forests where Sami herders depend on winter grazing for their reindeer, Greenpeace has established a Forest Rescue Station in Lapland to protect the remaining ancient forests.
Thursday 16th June
Dr. Richard Leakey, former director of Kenya 's Wildlife Service, has spoken out, at a seminar at Stony Brook University , New York , about the millions of dollars spent each year to protect elephants, tigers and rhinos against poachers, when climate change is a far bigger threat to wildlife. “Protected areas are like islands, where wildlife is tied in by boundaries which aren't oceans, but human development. If climate change occurs as predicted, we may well be looking at a mass extinction.” He asks whether we can do anything about it:
Are there new land-use regimes that would extend the possibility of some of these ecosystems getting through a climate change era?
Are there things that could be done artificially that would make extinction less likely? Should we re-visit the whole issue of ex-situ as opposed to in-situ conservation?
He hopes to persuade the World Bank and UNEP to set up a $100 million fund to research the issue.
Friday 17th June
Norway 's Environment Minister, Knut Hareide, addressing a seminar on geological storage of CO2, said that since 1996 about 1 million tonnes of CO2 had been stored annually in the Sleipner West offshore gas field. “Injection of CO2 to enhance recovery of fossil fuels could generate revenues that offset part of the cost of capturing and transporting CO2. By using it for enhanced oil recovery, not only the future carbon price, but also the price of oil and gas, will determine the economics of carbon capture and storage projects.” He said that studies had shown that all Europe 's CO2 emissions over the next 200 years could be injected and stored in oil wells and aquifers in the North Sea . But is it safe?
“We have to take all possible precautions to make sure that the marine environment is not adversely affected. On this, as on all other environmental issues, the precautionary principle should be our guide. We have to be confident that the method of storage is safe and that the risk of leakage is minimal. But we should bear in mind that the CO2 is likely to be stored in geological structures that have contained oil and gas securely for millions of years.”
Saturday 18th June
Half a million farmed salmon escape into Norwegian waters each year. Last January alone over 629,000 farmed fish escaped, many of which interbreed with wild salmon, often passing on diseases and parasites caught in overcrowded cages. WWF proposes new measures, including increased security to prevent escapes, individual tagging of farmed fish and the location of fish farms away from vulnerable stocks of wild salmon and cod.
Sunday 19th June
Help us, Lord, so to deal with the things we possess that they may never possess us. May we live at peace with all your creation, and may we hold the goods that you have given us as instruments to be used in your service and for the furtherance of your kingdom on earth.
Monday 20th June
A new book and exhibition entitled “NorthSouthEastWest” reveals how climate change is more than an environmental problem. Everyday issues such as health, food and transport are affected, as well as human rights and local and global economies. The book highlights projects that are already reducing emissions of greenhouse gases. The exhibition was launched in London in April and will tour the world over the next two years.
Tuesday 21st June
A YouGov poll has revealed that 38% of people believe climate change will cause problems in their lifetime, while 69% view it as a real threat. 46% would support taxes to subsidise public transport fares, while 85% voted for more government support going into the development of renewable energy such as wind farms. The Thames Barrier had to be activated 28 times in the last five years – as many as in the preceding fifteen years – while the Government predicts that by 2100 it will have to be raised up to 325 times a year. Just one flood that broke through the Barrier would cost £30 billion in damage to London , i.e. roughly 2% of the Gross National Product.
Wednesday 22nd June
The International Maritime Organisation has decided to phase out single-hull tankers, so reducing the risk of damaging oil spills. However, the decision could increase the number of ships sent to shipbreaking yards in India , where environmental standards are minimal. If, as proposed by the Andhra Pradesh government, new shipyards are built at Kakinada , they would devastate the livelihoods of local fishermen, pollute pristine beaches and destroy the mangrove forest of Coringa . A Greenpeace report, The Ship Recycling Fund, sets out the economic case for promoting clean and safe shipbreaking, whereby it would become a service to the shipping community instead of a toxic waste dumping industry. It estimates the costs of pre-decontamination, site remediation and technological upgrading to enable environmentally-sound recycling, and finds them to be just 0.5% of the shipping industry total annual turnover.
Thursday 23rd June
From next month the congestion charge on cars entering central London will rise from £5 to £8. Vehicle emissions not only exacerbate climate change but have damaging health effects. Since the charge was introduced, CO2 and exhaust pollutants in the zone have dropped by almost 20%, proving that congestion charges work. Many residents living in other cities are campaigning for a similar charge.
Friday 24th June
Solar PV cells now supply electricity to more than a million homes. Japanese production of PV cells benefits from various government incentives and now accounts for 49% of the world total. Germany , which provides 10-year loans for PV installations, now has 400 MW. of capacity. China expects to have a total of 300 MW. capacity by the end of 2005. For the 1.7 billion people who lack connection to a grid, solar cells with storage batteries are often the cheapest form of electricity. Through microcredit programmes with 30-month financing, the cost of solar cells is comparable with that of kerosene lamps, while a shift to solar energy brings health benefits by allowing vaccines and other essentials to be refrigerated.
Saturday 25th June
An investigation carried out by Dr. Esmond Martin on behalf of Care for the Wild International finds that tusks from elephants illegally slaughtered in Sudan , Kenya , the Democratic Republic of Congo and other African states are being carved into figurines and jewellery by Sudanese craftsmen. They told him that the Sudanese army was largely responsible for the poaching. About three-quarters of the buyers of worked ivory in Sudan are Chinese, most of the rest being South Koreans and Saudis. For more details ring 01306 627900 or visit: www.careforthewild.com
Sunday 26th June
God our Creator, we pray at this time of opportunity for a new spirit of care for your creation to take root across the earth, that the nations may unite:
In silencing the roar of the chainsaw,
In extinguishing the burning of forests,
In purging the pollution of air and water,
In conserving valuable energy,
In stemming the tide of pollution,
So that destruction may be transformed into the spring of new life.
Help us each one to make our contribution to the future of your world. Amen.
Monday 27th June
The Goldman Environmental Prize for Africa has been awarded to Corneille Ewango for his work in the Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Democratic Republic of Congo. During the country's civil war, when reserve facilities were looted, land grabbed for illegal mining and poaching rose to critical levels, Corneille chose to remain at the Reserve, often hiding himself and the herbarium collection in the forest. Thanks to his efforts, at the end of the war in 2002, a number of poachers were arrested and injunctions obtained against mining in the Reserve.
Tuesday 28th June
The South East London Combined Heat & Power Plant (SELCHP) at New Cross takes up to 420,000 tonnes of mixed household waste from residents of Lewisham, Greenwich , Westminster and Bromley. Operating under strict environmental controls, it incinerates the waste at temperatures high enough to destroy potentially harmful chemicals. Ferrous metals are removed for recycling and the remaining ash, after treatment to reduce acidity, is sent for reprocessing into road building material. The gases are converted into steam which is fed into the turbine. This drives a generator which provides enough electricity to power 35,000 homes. The exhaust steam from the turbines is condensed in a bank of air-cooled condensers and the water recycled back into the process. The plant is providing a model for CHP plants around the world.
Wednesday 29th June
From this August, producers, importers and retailers of electrical and electronic equipment will be responsible for establishing a collection network for TV sets, PCs, digital cameras, vacuum cleaners and video recorders at the end of their life. Equipment collected will then have to be treated, recycled or recovered. At least a million tonnes of equipment are thrown away annually, including over 5 million TV sets. Almost all of it contains hazardous substances such as lead, mercury or CFCs which are harmful to both humans and the environment. From August onwards a greater range of alternatives to disposal will be available to householders. For more information visit: www.environment-agency.gov.uk
Thursday 30th June
The Woodland Trust has launched a 5-year campaign aimed at giving every child in Britain the chance to plant a tree. This will amount to 12 million new trees in public places and private gardens. Currently only 12% of our landscape consists of trees compared with an EU average of 30%. The Woodland Trust has an online Native Tree Shop which offers a variety of trees and shrubs to suit every size and location of garden, with planting advice. Prices start at £9.95 for four saplings. For more information
November 18-23 marks Trees For All Weekend. For details visit www.treeforall.org.uk
Sources: Parish Pump News (The Conservation Foundation)
BBC Wildlife Magazine
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