“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life.” (Deuteronomy 30.19-20)
“Do you know the laws of the heavens? Can you set up God's dominion over the earth?” (Job. 38.33)
“Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know . . My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.” (Job.42. 3 & 5)
“God never answered Job's questions: instead he answered the real need of the questioner and provided a deeper knowledge of Himself. Job was given, not answers to his questions, but a new revelation of God. “I will not give you answers,” said God. “I will give you something better. I will give you Myself.” (Selwyn Hughes)
Friday 1st July
Father God, as the leaders of eight of the world's most powerful nations assemble in Scotland , we pray for all rulers and statesmen who are called to leadership. Give them vision to see far into the issues of our time, courage to uphold what they believe to be right, and integrity in their words and motives. This we ask in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Saturday 2 nd July
The Make Poverty History coalition is calling on the G8 leaders to stop forcing poor countries to follow imposed policies (such as privatisation of essential services in return for debt relief), to agree to fairer terms of trade and to raise levels of aid to the UN-recommended ratio of 0.7% of national GDP. Today there will be a minute's silence at 11 a.m. to remember the world's poor, and a giant rally in Edinburgh to focus the attention of world leaders on these problems. For details, visit: www.makepovertyhistory.org
Sunday 3 rd July
“Your kingdom is founded on righteousness and justice.” (Psalm 89.14)
O God, whose Son Jesus Christ cared for the welfare of all and went about doing good to the needy; grant us the imagination and resolution to create in this country and throughout the world a just social order for the human family. Make us agents of your compassion to the suffering, the persecuted and the oppressed, through the Spirit of your Son, who shared the suffering of humankind, our pattern and redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Monday 4 th July
A WWF report “Europe 2005 – The Ecological Footprint” shows that Europe 's consumption levels are met by importing natural resources such as wood, metals and fish from other countries. With 7% of the world's population, the EU uses 17% of the world's natural resources. “Economic growth at the expense of depletion of natural resources and environmental degradation simply shifts the problem to other parts of the world. Reducing our pressure on nature is essential for Britain 's prosperity and the development of African nations. If the UK wants to be competitive, it is time to build a ‘smart economy' that decouples economic growth from resource depletion.”
Tuesday 5 th July
Today the Working Group on Climate Change, representing 21 environmental and development organizations, meets at 9 a.m. at the Dynamic Earth Visitor Centre in Edinburgh for the Global Warming 8 (GW8) conference. Eight speakers – one each from Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Zambia, China, Colombia, Honduras, India and Nepal – will describe the impacts of climate change on their countries, the barriers to progress and the opportunities for tackling climate change and reducing its impact. There will be commentaries from Bob Watson, former chairman of the IPCC, and Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. For an invitation to the GW8 please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.dynamicearth.co.uk
Wednesday 6 th July
The G8 Summit opens today at Gleneagles , Scotland . An all-party parliamentary group on malaria has reported that the scale of the challenge from this one disease would put in jeopardy any package of aid and trade assistance. Malaria is the world's biggest killer, hitting particularly hard in poorer countries in Africa . The group called for increased and sustained resources from the rich world. “There is no shortage of knowledge about how to deal with malaria: there is a lack of political will to put this knowledge into practice.”
Thursday 7 th July
The “Climate Alarm” begins at Gleneagles today at 13.45. People across Scotland and the world will sound sirens, alarms and warning bells to wake up G8 leaders to the fact that time is running out to tackle climate injustice. The time of 13.45 has been selected because the G8 nations represent just 13% of the world's people, but are responsible for 45% of climate-changing pollutants. To find how to take part in the Climate Alarm visit: www.foe-scotland.org.uk/g8 or ring 0131 554 9977.
Friday 8 th July
The trade in illegally-logged timber is estimated to be worth $15 billion a year. Britain , as chair of the G8 nations, has proposed tough measures including new trade laws. The USA has agreed to provide help to logging nations in the tropics, but insisted that there be no change to trade rules. This once more raises the question of whether the rest of the world should legislate to the exclusion of the USA , or whether we should be patient, secure in the faith that, as the climate crisis deepens, US environmental policies will have to change despite short-term trade difficulties.
Saturday 9 th July
Since 1970 Brazil has lost 20% of its 1.6 million square miles of Amazonian rainforest, an area the size of France . President Lula da Silva supports a World Bank/WWF strategy for establishing 25 million acres of protected areas and 23 million acres of sustainable use reserves by 2006, but he is unwilling to hinder economic growth or provoke violence with outright bans on farming and logging on illegally-occupied federal lands. His solution is to extend the presence of IBAMA (the environmental law-enforcement agency) by building 19 extra bases on the Amazonian frontier to legalise forest use and enforce controls. Yet in 2003/4 deforestation rose by 6% to over 26,000 sq. kilometres – half of which occurred in the Mato Grosso, where trees have been replaced with soya fields.
Sunday 10 th July
Father, we know that in all creation only the human family has strayed from the sacred way. We know that we are the ones who must, together, come back to walk in your sacred way. Father, teach us love, compassion and honour, that we may heal the earth and heal each other. (from the Ojibway nation of Canada )
Monday 11 th July
A UN report has predicted that world population will rise from 6.5 billion now to 9.1 billion by 2050 – an increase equal to the combined population of India and China . The rate of growth has fallen: family planning and lower fertility have made a difference. But by 2050 a tripling of population is predicted for Afghanistan , East Timor , and nine African nations, for most of whom the big issue is survival now rather than conservation of natural resources. The challenge is to convince them that the two are inseparable.
Tuesday 12 th July
The February conference at the Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction in Exeter heard Peter Cox of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology report that, owing to rising temperatures, the rate at which trees and other organic matter decompose in the soil will speed up, so producing more CO2 CO2 emissions. Thus, the world's forests, which now absorb much of our CO2 emissions, will themselves become sources of carbon emissions, so speeding up climate change. He believes this will happen when CO2 levels in the atmosphere reach between 400 and 500 parts per million (they are now 376 ppm.), some time mid-century on current trends. He concluded: “I would say that this is one definition of what dangerous climate change means.” At the same conference the UN Meteorological Office predicted a major decline in rainfall across the Amazon basin which, around mid-century, would make it increasingly vulnerable to vast forest fires, so adding to climate-changing CO2 emissions . One piece of good news is the growing evidence of a return of vegetation to parts of the Sahara , so generating extra rain and further extending the zone of vegetation.
Wednesday 13 th July
BP's Statistical Review of World Energy 2005 reports that world energy consumption grew by 4.3% last year – the largest ever annual growth. Chinese energy consumption jumped by 15.1% and now accounts for 13.6% of world demand. Oil production grew by 3.4% - its fastest rate since 1978. Proved reserves of oil are sufficient for 40 years' consumption at present rates. The figures for gas and coal are 65 years and 164 years respectively. “Investment and new technologies will ensure that there will be further additions to these reserves in future.” The Review clearly recognises that fossil fuel reserves are finite, but makes no predictions as to what will take their place in providing us with the basics of life.
Thursday 14 th July
Henderson Global Investors has produced a report – “The Carbon 100” – evaluating the carbon emissions of FTSE100 companies. Top of the list comes Shell, responsible for 23% of carbon emissions from FTSE100 companies, followed by BP and Scottish Power, with 17% each. CO2 emissions from all FTSE100 companies came to 73% of the UK total. The UK was responsible for 2.2% of global CO2 emissions, but FTSE100 firms have an extra large effect due to their global outreach. In addition, products sold by just five of British-based oil and mining companies account for over 10% of total global emissions. The report calls for better disclosure of CO2 emissions by companies of all sizes.
These chilling figures convey a clear message to shareholders and customers alike. We all have work to do.
Friday 15 th July
Shell, in its 2004 report “Meeting the energy challenge”, publishes targets for Greenhouse Gas Emissions starting from an actual figure of 123 million tonnes in 1990 to a target of 117 million tonnes in 2010. Without the planned reduction and end of gas flaring by 2008, carbon emissions would be even higher. Meanwhile, a report from a panel of independent scientists into the effects of Shell's Sakhalin oil and gas development has led Shell to move pipelines away from the feeding grounds of endangered gray whales and to substitute pipelines for tankers. WWF reports that local roads on Sakhalin Island have been destroyed by construction traffic, an ancient burial site has been bulldozed to make way for a storage site and tonnes of waste have dumped into a bay which is a vital fishing ground for local fishermen. Clearly Shell has some way to go before winning hearts and minds.
Saturday 16 th July
The Government has announced a £40 million funding package to capture carbon from UK power stations and to store it in depleted oil and gas fields under the North Sea . FoE has given the announcement a cautious welcome:
“Carbon capture and storage cannot work to fight climate change on its own. It must be deployed as part of a wider strategy that will achieve large-scale expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies as well as cuts in emissions from the transport sector. Carbon capture and storage could be a useful bridging technology that could help reduce emissions in the next few decades while we increase energy efficiency and expand renewables. It would also be a far preferable approach to the possible alternative of nuclear power, which is also put forward by some groups as a bridging technology, including for developing countries.”
Sunday 17 th July
Lord God, maker of heaven and earth, you made us in your image and set us in a world teeming with life and beauty. You gave us authority, yet we have lost our way. Teach us, heavenly Father, how to live according to your will, so that we and all your creation may worship you in peace and thanksgiving.
Monday 18 th July
Roof-top wind turbines are to be tested later this year in Scotland and the South-West. Windsave, the inventors, have signed a deal with British Gas to supply and install 5 foot-wide turbines capable of generating about 1 kw. of electricity – enough to power a TV set, computer, fridge, freezer and several lights. One turbine would reduce CO2 emissions by about half a tonne per annum. The cost of about £1,500 would include installation.
Footnote: The Government has just announced a grant scheme to encourage the installation of small wind turbines.
Tuesday 19 th July
Greenhouse gas emissions from aircraft have risen by 70% across Europe since 1990, largely because of the growth of low-budget airlines. The effect of emissions from aircraft is twice that at ground level because of the water in vapour trails. Britain wants to include aviation in the EU emissions trading scheme, but the EU Commission has said that would not be possible. Meanwhile, the aircraft industry has promised better emissions controls, but only in new aircraft. The problem remains: How can aviation be made to contribute towards the national target of a 20% reduction in carbon emissions by 2020? Somehow the flying public must be persuaded as to what is at stake here.
Wednesday 20 th July
Lord May, President of the Royal Society, has attacked as “gutless” the Government's environmental record on traffic pollution, waste, climate change, over-fishing and destruction of wildlife habitats. Poor air quality in cities due to pollution may be contributing to 12,000-24,000 premature deaths a year. “Anyone who has driven or seen or experienced cars which are clearly in violation of MOT regulations (on vehicle emissions) knows the problem.”
Again: “Recycling is a wonderful displacement activity because what we ought to be doing is regulating the creation of waste in the first place. In some cities in Asia , particularly large parts of India , plastic bags are outlawed because of the environmental damage they do. What we have is a totally gutless avoidance of introducing legislation to reverse the trend to ever more wastefully elaborate and environmentally damaging over-packaging.”
On over-fishing: “With more than two-thirds of world fish stocks over-fished or fully exploited, Britain has not even got its fisheries policy right. Even though ministers were aware of the need to set tough quotas, Britain just folded its hands and left the table in the interests of political comfort.”
He was similarly concerned about the state of many of the country's SSSIs (sites of special scientific interest), and equated this loss of habitat to that of the rainforests.
Thursday 21 st July
In Britain we grumble at a temporary hosepipe ban. In New Delhi last month, as temperatures reached 45 0 C., the taps ran dry. As the city's population expands and gets richer, increasing the demand for washing machines and bath tubs, poor people protest at the sight of soldiers sluicing down armoured cars and parade-ground horses. Each house is entitled to a relief delivery of 1,000 litres, but when it will arrive often depends on a “sweetener” of 400 rupees (£500). The city government has banned private wells and made rainwater harvesting obligatory, but does not dare to enforce the law. Nobody seems ready or able to moderate their consumption. Nobody dares to suggest when the water will finally run out.
Friday 22 nd July
WWF is working with Borneo 's three nations – Brunei , Indonesia and Malaysia – to declare 220,000 sq. kilometres of equatorial rainforest a national park to be known as the “Heart of Borneo”. It is one of the world's last three rain forest wildernesses, the others being the Congo and the Amazon. Already huge rafts of logs are to be seen on every waterway. The possible demise of the orang-utan would be a global tragedy, but for most people on the island, for whom clean water, medicines and electricity are just a pipedream, the fate of the orang-utan is of no importance. Stuart Chapman, the WWF Co-ordinator, says: “Maintaining huge blocks of interconnected forest will ensure water and food security for the people of Borneo . If these forests are reduced to a patchwork, hundreds of species will become extinct. We have to make the Heart of Borneo a political and economic reality before it's too late.”
Saturday 23 rd July
A report prepared by Imperial College for the Department of International Development says that half the fish caught off some of the poorest African countries are caught illegally. Fishing fleets from Japan , Korea , Taiwan and Europe are removing fish worth at least £500 million a year from sub-Saharan Africa . Guinea alone loses £55 million a year, chiefly in prawns, to foreign fleets. Somalia loses fish worth £50 million to European tuna fleets. The report refers to “a striking relationship” between the quality of governance, the political will to enforce regulations and fight corruption and a country's vulnerability to illegal fishing. “Relatively modest aid spending could make a significant difference in some of the worst affected African countries.”
Sunday 24 th July
Show us, Father, how to protect the soil, air and water which you have created, so that we may not continue to exploit and pollute them for our own profit or convenience. Guide those in charge of our educational system, that our children may be ever more aware of the need to care for the natural world, so that their spirits may not be starved in the pursuit of material comfort and technological prowess.
Monday 25 th July
Christian Ecology Link's campaign for LOAF principles (food that is Locally produced, Organically grown, Animal-friendly and Fairly traded) is gaining influential support. BigBarn is a web-based network with a mission “to make buying local produce more convenient by taking local food to where consumers already buy food: also to give farmers a fair price to encourage them to grow a wider range of produce.” To find contacts within a 10-mile radius, just type your postcode into a database of over 6,000 food producers at www.bigbarn.co.uk
Anthony Davison, BigBarn's founder, believes supermarkets could supply locally-sourced food. He's not expecting a philanthropic gesture. “As long as the supermarket makes the required return from its ‘local food space', there shouldn't be a problem. We're proposing that the retailer takes 75% of the retail price, comfortably within what they expect. The challenge for us is to build the infrastructure that can reliably generate that return by filling the shelves with the right goods.” Other websites which, however, do not target supermarkets include:
www.rivercottage.net and www.london21.org
Tuesday 26 th July
An eight-turbine wind farm is to be built next year in the Rhondda valley. A half-share will belong to the community-owned Arts Factory Development Trust, which will use its income to fund community regeneration initiatives. It will generate enough electricity to meet the needs of over 6,000 households. The developers are the utility company E.ON UK . For details visit: www.artsfactory.co.uk
Wednesday 27 th July
Climate change is widely recognized as a huge threat, yet many people still mutter: “It's too big, too complicated and too distant”, and pass on to something else. The Government has set up a Climate Change Communications Strategy to target these attitudes. Of the twenty “Rules of the Game” the following bear repeating:
Don't rely on concern about children's future or human survival instincts. “Fight or flight” instincts have a time limit measured in minutes. They are of little use for a change in climate measured in years;
Don't create fear without agency. We must use fear with great caution: without agency, all we'll generate is apathy;
Use transmitters and social learning. Encouraging local people to talk to each other is likely to be significantly more successful than a large advertising campaign.
One conclusion that might be drawn from the above is that, in the face of public cynicism about government initiatives, the message is: “Back to the grassroots!” That's us.
Thursday 28 th July
There is a world of difference, for any business or individual, between achieving “carbon neutral” status and actually reducing carbon emissions. The first is fairly easy:
Reduce unnecessary consumption of materials and products;
Sign up for a renewable energy tariff;
Offset the remaining emissions by paying Climate Care or Future Forests to put your money into renewable or into planting trees.
However, reducing carbon emissions is the more direct and valuable activity that is needed to save our climate. The World Land Trust is a charity which provides free energy audits and recommends ways to reduce energy consumption. In addition, it offers ways of supporting their vision of buying up bits of the Amazon rainforest.
Websites: www.carbonbalanced.org www.b9energy.co.uk www.eyenetwork.co.uk www.worldlandtrust.org
Friday 29 th July
Advice to change our electricity supplier to help fight climate change has been put into question. Researchers for The Ecologist asked ‘green' electricity suppliers this question: How much per customer did you spend in 2004 on the construction of new renewable energy generation?
For several companies with ‘green' pretensions, the answer was: Nothing.
However, Scottish Power spent £4.46 per customer, Npower (with 5 million customers) spent £7.20 and Powergen spent £8.33. Ecotricity, with only 5,000 customers, spent £901.64 for each of them. By 2008 it plans to be spending at least £40 million a year in new renewable infrastructure from a customer base of 1 million and aims to generate 500 MW. by 2010 from new renewable sources.
Saturday 30 th July
Research by Professor Swan of the University of Rochester, New York, published in “Environmental Health Perspectives” confirms the hypothesis that pre-natal exposure to phthalates can adversely affect male reproductive development. Phthalates are widely used in plastics, cosmetics, hairspray, shampoo and soaps. They have long been suspected of a linkage with rising infertility levels, especially among men, since they are “endocrine disrupters” that can alter hormonal balance. They have been linked to the decline in human sperm counts and the rise in testicular cancer and male genital deformities. WWF comments:
“Regulation of the chemicals industry is woefully inadequate and something needs to be done immediately. The Government is looking at how the regulation of hormone-disrupting chemicals could be made more effective under new EU chemicals law. If they don't, wildlife and baby boys will be the losers.”
Sunday 31 st July
Deliver us, Father, from the worship of power through science and technology - power over nature and power over our fellow-humans. While we acknowledge with gratitude the God-given skills of scientists, spare us from the abuse of scientific discoveries. Free us from false hopes and misplaced trust, that we may find in you alone our true hope and salvation.
The Rev. Richard Cizik, Washington representative of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), America's largest evangelical group with 30 million members, has said: 'There are 2 pressing reasons for evangelicals to lobby for the environment: first, the Bible enjoins man to look after what God created; second, the poor may be the first to suffer from climate change.
When we die and each one of us meets our Maker, He is not going to say "How did I create the world?". He is going to say "What did you do with what I created?" And why do I know that? Because Genesis 2.15 says we are stewards in charge of creation 'to watch over it carefully'.
How can you "love your neighbour as yourself" if you are willing to let millions be subject to flooding and droughts caused by greenhouse gases which we, Americans, are responsible for?"
NAE's President, Ted Haggard, is reported to take part in a teleconference with President Bush every Monday. (Source: Daily Telegraph 23/06/05 -login and so a search for cizik.)
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