“Do not worry, saying ‘What shall we eat?' or ‘What shall we drink?' or ‘What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you as well.” (Matthew 6.31-33)
“Once we realize that we own absolutely nothing, we are enlightened, not only in the sense that our minds are flooded with light, but also in the sense that a weight is lifted from us and our hearts grow lighter.”
“The man who accomplished most on this planet of ours was never in a hurry, never ran (as far as we can tell), never pushed people around, and was never fussily busy.
His whole life spells ‘calm'.
But what a hurricane lay at the heart of all he did.
He lived for only thirty-three years.
It's not the years we put in that counts; it's what we put into the years.”
Sunday 1 st January .
Eternal God, before whose face the generations rise and pass away, to whom a thousand years are but as yesterday; as we meditate upon the solemn passing of Time and turn our minds to the contemplation of Eternity, save us from being enslaved by the temporal and the transient. Grant us a vision of the vast sweep of your purposes, that we may be delivered from the bondage of trifles and the little trivialities of everyday life. Help us to learn such wisdom and serenity that the depths of our hearts may remain calm, however the surface may be disturbed, and so to correct our perspective, that little things may not distort our vision of the Eternal Splendours. This we ask in the Name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (Leslie Weatherhead – adapted)
Monday 2 nd January .
2005 saw the highest ever recorded rainfall in 24 hours – 944 mm. at Mumbai, India – the first hurricane to reach Europe (Hurricane Vince), the strongest storm ever recorded (Hurricane Wilma) and, according to the insurers Munich Re, the costliest year for weather-related insurance claims, which totalled more than $70 billion – 55% up on the previous record. Thomas Loster, CEO of Munich Re, said at the Montreal Conference: “There is a powerful indication from these figures that we are moving from predictions of the likely impacts of climate change to proof that it is already fully under way. Above all, these are humanitarian tragedies and show us that, as a result of our impacts on the climate, we are making people everywhere more vulnerable to weather-related natural disasters.”
Tuesday 3 rd January .
At the Montreal Conference the 157 signatories of the Kyoto Protocol agreed to start negotiations on emission reduction targets for 2013-2017 and to review and improve the Kyoto Protocol itself. They also agreed a 5-year plan to assist least-developed countries to cope with the impacts of climate change. The USA continued to lure countries away from the Kyoto process towards voluntary actions and ‘partnerships'. However, the resulting agreement sent a clear signal that the future lies in cleaner and more sustainable technologies, and that is good news for us all.
Wednesday 4 th January .
One such technology is carbon capture and sequestration in disused oil wells and coal mines, as already practised by Norway in the North Sea . The Montreal Conference was told by Professor Mark Jaccard that, by 2100, fossil fuels will still be providing 60% of the world's power, as compared to 85% now. The UN International Panel for Climate Change believes that carbon sequestration is so expensive that it will never be taken up using voluntary measures alone, as advocated by the Bush Administration. Clean coal technologies are already viable in Norway , but only because its oil and gas industries pay a carbon tax.
Thursday 5 th January.
Few of us bothered about our vehicle emissions until one day, suddenly, the sky was blotted out by a huge cloud of toxic smoke from the Buncefield oil depot, with grave implications for health and the environment. More than 70% of people drive cars to work. The Government plans for a 43% increase in car usage by 2020 and 53% by 2030. Between 14% and 17% of world CO 2 emissions come from its 775 million vehicles. The world's car fleet is growing by more than 6% a year. When will we see sense?
Friday 6 th January.
Today and tomorrow the Soil Association's 60 th Anniversary Conference
meets at the Brewery Conference Centre, London , on the theme “Feeding our cities in the 21 st century.” If oil becomes scarce and global conflict reduces food availability, most of the world's cities will reach crisis point within days. The conference will focus on restoring healthy and sustainable structures that connect the urban public with those who produce their food. Speakers include Ken Livingstone, Monty Don, Jonathon Porritt, Caroline Lucas MEP, Dr. Elaine Ingham, Rosie Boycott and Herbert Girardet. There will be 18 workshops, an organic slow food lunch, a violin recital, ceilidh and disco. For more details ring 0117 314 5000
Saturday 7 th January.
According to James Howard Kunstler in his book “The Long Emergency” “The cheap oil age created an artificial bubble of plenitude for a period not much longer than a human lifetime, a hundred years. Within that comfortable bubble the idea took hold that only grouches, spoilsports and godless maniacs considered population hypergrowth a problem, and that to even raise the issue was indecent. So I hazard to assert that as oil ceases to be cheap and world reserves arc towards depletion, we will suddenly be left with an enormous surplus population . . . that the ecology of the Earth will not support.”
Sunday 8 th January.
God our Creator, we give thanks that you long to sustain us,
just as in the time of our ancestors you cared for us.
Shield and care for us as an eagle cares for its young.
We give thanks that you come to bring healing and nourishment to all.
Help us to be open to all the ways you nourish us.
May we be at peace with each other. (Maureen Edwards)
Monday 9 th January.
New figures from the Government Actuary Department suggest that the UK population, now 60.2 million, will grow to over 67 million by 2031 and to 70.7 million by 2074. According to the Optimum Population Trust (OPT), “Not only does the densely-crowded UK lack self-sufficiency in gas, oil and biological resources, it will in a handful of years be competing for these and other dwindling reserves against powerful growing economies such as India and China, nations with expanding populations – India especially so. It therefore appears to the OPT to be extremely reckless to allow the UK population to continue to grow at a completely unsustainable rate; and yet this is exactly what is happening.” Disagreements will certainly arise on how to ensure that Britain 's population is contained at a sustainable level in relation to its resources of food and energy, but that debate needs to start now.
Tuesday 10 th January. “Agriculture in the UK ”, a report from DEFRA, reveals that UK self-sufficiency in food as a percentage of all food was 74.9% in 1989, but only 64.1% in 2003. In view of the uncertainty of future global supplies and the likelihood of shortages of fuel to grow and transport them, OPT believes that the people of the UK would prefer a population policy to the “no upper limit chaos” that now threatens to overwhelm us.
Wednesday 11 th January.
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), 380 women a minute become pregnant, of whom 190 do not plan to do so, but lack modern contraceptives. According to John Guillebaud, Emeritus Prefessor of Reproductive Health at University College , London , every minute of the day one woman dies through unsafe induced abortion or childbirth, i.e. 600,000 a year. The UNFPA figures quoted above suggest that half are being killed by pregnancies that they would have avoided – if only they had the contraceptives that we take for granted.
Thursday 12 th January.
For the 4 th year in succession the US Administration has withheld funding from UNFPA, the only international agency dedicated to family planning and reproductive healthcare. According to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, experts estimate that the former US contribution to UNFPA, if continued, would each year prevent 2 million unintended pregnancies, nearly 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths and 77,000 infant and child deaths.
Friday 13 th January.
About 67% of the nearly 12,124 square miles of Himalayan glaciers are receding. The glaciers supply 303.6 million cubic feet of water each year to Asian rivers including the Yangtze and Yellow Rivers in China , the Ganga in India , the Indus in Pakistan , the Brahmaputra in Bangladesh , the Irrawaddy in Burma and the Mekong in South East Asia . The 40% of humanity – two and a half billion people – living in South Asia and China could well be living with little drinking water within 50 years, as global warming melts the Himalayan glaciers. UN projections of population growth, medium variant, for China and India are:
1995 China 1.2 billion India 0.93 billion
2025 China 1.48 billion India 1.39 billion
Saturday 14 th January.
A sustainable population policy for the UK would, according to OPT, include these measures:
to welcome the current below-replacement fertility rate;
to support parents who have small families, but to consider not extending future financial support to couples with more than two children;
to reduce further, by contraception and education, the number of teenage pregnancies, which is still among the highest in Europe ;
to reduce net inward migration to a level at which it demographically balances emigration and therefore has a zero net effect on population growth;
to improve the health, skills and employability of the existing UK workforce;
to end ageism and other forms of discrimination in employment.
These measures, if implemented now, would reduce UK population from the current 60.2 million to 52.5 million by 2050, with further reductions to follow.
Sunday 15 th January.
Loving Father, you once blessed humanity with the command “Be fruitful and multiply.” Yet we read in your Word of times when, through human disobedience, depopulation ravaged our species. Help us to take to heart the truth that you sent your Son to redeem the whole Cosmos, not only ourselves. You commanded humanity to tend your Garden, and we mismanage it to our peril, for you are a God of Justice. You have given us the tools to control our numbers humanely. Give us the wisdom to use these tools to further your purposes on earth, and the patience and humanity to seek your guidance in all that we do. This we ask in the Name of your dear Son, who came to redeem us all.
Monday 16 th January.
European Environment Ministers have agreed to include aviation emissions in the Emissions Trading Scheme. Aviation emissions have increased by 8% since 1990 and are the fastest growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030 these could amount to 25% of total UK greenhouse gas emissions. The proposals will now go to member states and the European Parliament. If approved, the legislation is unlikely to be in place before 2012. This underlines the imperative for individuals and organizations alike to limit their use of air travel and to fly only when absolutely necessary.
Tuesday 17 th January.
Government grants of 95 million pounds have been announced for organizations that help businesses to cut their waste, reduce their use of landfill and improve their efficiency. Landfill tax, now 8 pounds a tonne, will increase by 3 pounds a year to a maximum of 35 pounds. Among the organizations to receive grants are:
The Carbon Trust, with 25 million pounds to help organizations respond to climate change and to cut emissions;
Envirowise, with 19 million pounds to help businesses to cut waste, water and energy use and to run waste efficiency clubs;
The National Industrial Symbiosis Programme, with 6 million pounds to help businesses find value in wastes they normally send to landfill;
The Environment Agency, with 4 million pounds to tackle waste crime;
The Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts, with 2 million pounds to administer a fund for community groups with special expertise for helping businesses to become resource efficient.
Ben Bradshaw, the Minister, said: “Many businesses simply do not realize that they can expect to save around 5% of their turnover by cutting waste, often with little or no investment. Add on top of that savings through improved resource efficiency, whether that be water use, energy use or the use of virgin materials, then we are talking about a substantial amount of money out there to be saved.
Wednesday 18 th January.
The European Commission has adopted a plan to boost the use of biomass in three sectors: heating, electricity and transport. For transport, the measures include a “biofuels obligation” similar to the one announced in the UK (see 15 Dec.2005). For heating, the plan would increase the use of energy crops without increasing the intensity or affecting food production, leading to emissions reductions of 290 million tones of CO 2 equivalent each year and providing employment for 250,000 – 300,000 people. There will be research into ways of making liquid fuels out of wood and waste materials, and a campaign to inform farmers. However, environmental groups have warned that some imported biomass crops have high inputs in cultivation and processing which result in greenhouse gas emissions not much lower than fossil fuel emissions. Birdlife International comments: “If managed sustainably, bioenergy can help us cut greenhouse gas emissions and restore degraded land. However, poorly managed production does little to reduce emissions and can have a devastating impact on the environment.”
Thursday 19 th January.
According to researchers of the American Geophysical Union, recovery of the ozone layer will only be completed around 2065. There are huge stocks of ozone-destroying chemicals - especially in America – which under the Montreal Protocol can legally be used. This will have health implications, especially for people living near the poles, since melanoma and other skin cancers are more frequent in these areas.
In another development, the European Parliament has rejected a proposal to replace HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) in household refrigerators. HFCs are 1,300 times stronger as greenhouse gases than CO 2 , but lobbyists from the chemical industry claimed that they are “part of the social fabric of Europe ”, despite he fact that benign alternatives for home refrigeration have long been available.
Friday 20 th January.
In a report called “How Green is your Parliament?” commissioned by Norman Baker MP, it was found that 85% more bottled water was being purchased by Parliament than four years ago, one-third of all beers and ciders purchased were of foreign brands and one-third of fish purchased were from threatened fish stocks. Since 1997, gas consumption by Parliament has risen 34%, electricity use by 45% and water consumption by 58%. Commented Norman Baker: “It's all very well for MPs to call on the public to take measures to protect the environment, but how can we expect them to listen if we do not do this ourselves?”
Saturday 21 st January.
The Monks Wood Laboratory which pioneered research on DDT and many other environmental issues is to be closed, along with three other laboratories run by the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. The closures will cut between 2 and 5 million pounds off running costs and will involve the loss of 200 jobs. FoE comments: “ Britain has been rightly proud of its science-based environmental policy and the closure of Monks Wood sends the worst possible signal to the rest of the world. We are in an ecological crisis, and we need more science, not less.”
Sunday 22 nd January.
God, King of kings and Ruler of princes, we pray for statesmen, leaders and rulers. May they be quiet in spirit, clear in judgement and able fully to understand the issues that face them.
May they think often of the ordinary folk on whose behalf they must speak and act.
May they remember that in keeping your laws is mankind's only good and happiness.
Grant them patience, courage, foresight and great faith.
In their anxieties be their security, in their opportunities be their inspiration.
By their plans and actions may your Kingdom come and your Will be done. (Lilian Cox – adapted)
Monday 23 rd January .
A Government-sponsored report from the Energy Saving Trust called “Potential for Microgeneration” suggests that, by 2050, 30-40% of our power could come from tiny wind turbines and rooftop PV panels. Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks, commented: “I would like more micro wind turbines, solar panels and other technologies on schools, homes and businesses, as they can make a real difference in reducing the UK 's carbon emissions, as well as helping people to understand better where our energy comes from and to increase their energy efficiency.
Tuesday 24 th January.
Despite recommendations made five years ago by the World Commission on Dams, dam construction continues to cause excessive social and environmental damage according to a new WWF report “To dam or not to dam?”. All six dams surveyed for the report failed to meet the Commission's recommendations. In Belize , the $30 million Chalillo Dam was meant to reduce electricity imports and to lower prices. Instead, prices have increased by 12% and the dam has flooded 1,000 hectares of pristine rainforest. In Laos , the diversion of water from the Nam Theun River as part of the World Bank-approved Nam Theun 2 hydropower project will destroy the livdelihoods of 50,000 people. Altogether over 400 large dams are under construction worldwide and hundreds more are planned.
Wednesday 25 th January.
In China , water availability per person is only a quarter of the world's average. Its rivers are so heavily polluted that much of the water is undrinkable. Less than half its waste water is treated and recycled, while around 20% of urban water supply is lost through poor plumbing. The Chinese Government has engaged British architects Ove Arup to design up to five “eco-cities” to be self-sufficient in water, energy and much of their food supplies, with climate-neutral transport systems. However, the cities are intended to “act as magnets for investment funds into the rapidly-growing Chinese economy”. Evidently it is more important to attract investment rather than tackle the root problems of pollution and over-population. China already imports much of its food. Attracting rural farmers to live in “eco-cities” can only increase its unsustainable reliance on food imports.
Thursday 26 th January.
Barely 1% of Scotland 's ancient Caledonian Forest still survives. Every seedling of native pines and other species is eaten by Scotland 's excessive population of 600,000 red deer – whose numbers, in the absence of any natural predators, are growing unsustainably.
America 's Yellowstone Park had similar problems, where deer grazed everything they could get their teeth into. Then, in 1990, wolves were re-introduced, and trees and shrubs began to regenerate. Other plants and animals dependent on the forest also returned. Thousands of people camp in the Park and so far no-one has been attacked by wolves. Is it time to bring back the wolf to Scotland 's Caledonian Forest ?
Paul van Vlissingen, a landowner comments: “We worry about whether it's remotely possible that the wolf might kill someone in Britain , but we don't bat an eyelid at the number of people in the Third World who are killed by large mammals. We expect other people to co-exist with large mammals, but we aren't prepared to do so ourselves. We say we don't want wolves in this country because we like our stalking rights and we don't want wolves killing our deer. Well, any country in the world could say that, and that would be the end of our global megafauna. As it is, we have very little of it left.”
Friday 27 th January
HarperCollins, one of Britain 's best-known publishers, has committed itself to phasing out paper produced from ancient and endangered forests and to using recycled and FSC-certified paper for all its books. From now on, it will print all its hardback monochrome books and its trade paperbacks on paper certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. All its catalogues are now printed on recycled paper and all photocopier/printer paper will be FSC-certified.
Saturday 28 th January.
Today the 3 rd joint Redcliffe College/JRI conference takes place at Redcliffe College , Gloucester , looking at overseas mission in the context of global environmental issues. Dr. Alan Storkey, an economist, will look at Christian alternatives to the Western pattern of “winner takes all”. Constructive responses to environmental issues will also be discussed. For further details visit www.redcliffe.org/events or ring 01452 308097.
Sunday 29 th January.
Father God, the fountain of love, power and justice, the God who cares particularly for the least, the most suffering and the poorest among us, Lord of creation, grant us today your guidance and wisdom, so that we may see the human predicament for what it is.
Give us courage and obedience, so that we may follow you completely.
Help us, Lord, to bear witness to the cross of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone is our reason for hope, and in whose Name we pray.
( Koson Srisang , Thailand )
Monday 30 th January.
The town of Bishop 's Castle in Shropshire aims to become Britain 's first Wasteless Society. Locally-produced biodiesel made from vegetable oil is already on sale at one of its garages. The town's Climate Change Strategy aims to calculate the town's total carbon emissions and cut them by 85% by 2050. A grant from the Energy Saving Trust has enabled them to support several part-time posts devoted to bringing renewable energy to the town. For more details ring Sue Davies on 01547 520304 or email: email@example.com
Tuesday 31 st January.
The Royal Society of Arts, celebrating its 250 th anniversary, set up a series of challenges, one of which was to create a Zero Waste Society. Chew Magna in Somerset responded to the challenge by setting up its Go Zero Project. Its first move was to offset its carbon emissions by supporting overseas schemes for reducing the environmental, social and spiritual damage occurring in other countries as a result of our UK lifestyle. 150 people are now involved in the Go Zero Project, which is set to spread across Western England and beyond. Contacts: Go Zero, The Old Mill, Tunbridge Road , Chew Magna, Bristol BS40 8SP. Tel. 01275 333455. Website: www.gozero.org.uk
Sources: The Ecologist
Living Earth (Soil Association)
Positive News & Living Lightly
Points To Ponder (OPT)
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