“Your wealth and all your treasures I will give away as plunder, together with your high places, because of sin throughout your country . . .
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when the heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17. 3,7,8)
“Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess,
for he who promised is faithful.
And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another –
And all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
(Hebrews 10. 23-25)
“You cannot serve both God and Money.” (Matthew 6.24)
“The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the antithesis of freedom and justice. Every increase of needs tends to increase one's dependence on outside forces over which one cannot have control . . . Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine reduction in those tensions which are the ultimate causes of strife and war.” (E.F. Schumacher)
Wednesday 1 st February.
According to James Lovelock, writing in the Independent, The Earth has already passed the point of no return for global warming.
Stephen Tindale, Director of Greenpeace, comments:
“Certainly the news from the natural world over the last year has been unremittingly bad: the oceans acidifying and less able to absorb carbon; the permafrost melting and giving up its methane . . All these things suggest that positive feedbacks may have kicked in; We may have crossed the threshold. But we can't be certain, and so we can't give up the fight. While there is hope that catastrophe can be averted, we have a moral duty to keep trying. I believe that if governments take emergency action, climate change can still be controlled. So let's get on with it – and pray that we aren't too late.” Christians can draw strength from the stance of biblical prophets, such as Jeremiah, who foresaw disaster for the land and people of Israel , yet trusted that God's deeper purposes can never fail.
Thursday 2 nd February
In the light of increasingly threatening noises from major energy suppliers such as Iran and Russia , each of us needs to ask searching questions:
How can we, both as individuals and as part of an organisation, play our part in saving energy?
Granted that energy saving alone will not be sufficient to meet future energy demand, how do we want our money invested, and in which energy sources?
What weight should be given to:
The cost of investment in each source of energy;
The time-scale of availability;
The possible legacy of waste left for future generations to clear up;
Vulnerability to terrorism of centralised energy supply?
The Energy Policy committee now considering these questions needs the prayers of all of us.
Friday 3rd February
Dr. Frank Barnaby of the Oxford Research Group in a paper entitled “Security and Nuclear Power” has found the following:
From 2000 to 2004 there were 83 breaches of no-fly zones around UK nuclear sites that have been or remain under investigation by the MoD and/or CAA;
Between 1993 and 2004 the International Atomic Energy Authority confirmed 662 incidents involving illicit trafficking of radiological materials;
A simple implosion weapon can be made with 4-5 kg. of Highly Enriched Uranium or about 7 kg. of weapons-grade plutonium;
About 40 kg. of weapons-usable uranium and plutonium have been stolen from the former Soviet Union during the last decade.
Dr. Barnaby concludes:
”A new generation of plutonium-powered nuclear reactors would increase the number of targets for a nuclear terrorist attack because reprocessing produces high-level radioactive waste and excess plutonium that has to be stored in stores that can be targeted” and “A British decision to build a new round of nuclear reactors will encourage a market for such reactors and the growth of a plutonium-MOX (mixed oxide) economy. Instead the British government should seriously consider ending reprocessing.”
Saturday 4 th February.
Sweden's Minister of Sustainable Development, Mona Sahlin, has announced plans to break the country's dependence on oil by 2020. “The whole world is now dreading the problems brought about by dependence on oil. Sweden has the chance to be an international model and a successful actor in export markets for alternative solutions. But this requires conscious investments – not a reactionary policy that obstructs the transition to alternative energy sources.” The measures to achieve these goals include:
Tax relief for conversion from oil, particularly for single family homes, to encourage conversion to renewable energy;
Higher targets for renewable energy, so that the entire energy supply comes from renewable sources;
Tax breaks for renewable fuels for the transport sector;
Greater research and new knowledge for a renewable society;
Continued investment in district heating, and financial incentives to use biofuels in this.
Sunday 5 th February.
Loving Father, who sent your Son to share the suffering of humanity, come close to all who have lost loved ones in earthquakes, floods, droughts and other natural disasters, all who have become refugees and all who are suffering from the devastation of war. Uphold those who minister to their needs and help us all to remember that in serving the least of your children we are serving you. Amen.
Monday 6 th February.
Professor Huisman of Amsterdam University, in a study published in “Nature”, comments on the effect of global warming on oceanic phytoplankton, which are the basis of all life in the oceans. Higher sea temperatures at the surface interrupt the upward movement of nutrients on which the phytoplankton feed. The vast numbers of phytoplankton absorb much carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and deposit it in the ocean depths. If the phytoplankton were to die through lack of nutrients, this would have knock-on effects on all life in the oceans and severely restrict their capacity to absorb carbon dioxide. This in turn would raise temperatures still further – a classic positive feedback effect.
Tuesday 7 th February.
A survey conducted jointly by the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research and MORI has found that 78% of respondents favour renewables as the energy choice of the future, 76% think that energy efficiency and lifestyle changes would be a better way of tackling emissions, and 54% would be willing to accept new nuclear power stations if it would help to tackle climate change.
However, 62% said it doesn't matter what the public think of nuclear power as nuclear power stations will be built anyway.
Dr. Kevin Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Centre said that the UK could easily compensate for the loss of energy from closing nuclear stations with simple measures on energy efficiency.
“If you've got money to spend on tackling climate change, then you don't spend it on supply. You spend it on reducing demand.”
Wednesday 8 th February.
Buildings account for over 40% of energy consumption and over 40% of CO2 emissions. Yet the EU Energy Performance in Buildings Directive of 2003 remains unenforced in most EU countries. Now seven industry associations have called for full and rapid implementation and for the Directive to be widened to include all buildings below 1,000 sq. metres and to raise standards for public buildings. According to Commission estimates
an effective legal framework for emissions from buildings could save 70 million tonnes of CO2 emissions annually. Technologies that could benefit from an expansion of the Directive are in the micro-segment of the market, such as Stirling engines, micro-turbines and fuel cells.
Thursday 9 th February.
Writing in “Nature” Frank Keppler of the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics at Heidelberg, found that plants produce up to one-third of total world emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Replying to those who thought that tree-planting was now considered harmful, he clarified his findings:
Reforestation programmes should not be condemned, since trees absorb CO2, so planting them is still beneficial;
When the methane they emit is taken into account, the benefits of planting trees to absorb CO2 diminish by just 1-4% - a negligible effect;
Changes in the amount of methane emitted by plants are likely to be caused by human activities such as deforestation.
To anyone who, on a hot summer's day, has moved out of woodland into open ground – or vice versa – the benefits of trees in conserving moisture and moderating temperature need no advocacy: the facts are obvious.
Friday 10 th February.
Government figures for CO2 emissions during 2004 are worse than at any time since 1997 – with the exception of 2001, when the winter months were unusually cold. In three Labour manifestos (1997, 2001 & 2005) there was a commitment to reduce CO2 levels by 20% of 1990 levels by 2010. The new Government Energy Review document admits that existing policies will only lead to a 10% reduction. Over 300 MPs are backing a new law to make Government legally responsible for annual reductions in emissions of 3% year on year. Only a perceived commitment through every branch of Government can ensure that this is achieved.
Saturday 11 th February.
Today a conference entitled “Climate Change: What can Christians do?” takes place in Wesley Memorial Methodist Church, New Inn Hall Street, Oxford, as part of the “Operation Noah” campaign promoted by Christian Ecology Link. The keynote speakers are the Rev. Professor Ian James, Professor of Geophysical Fluid Dynamics at Reading University, Dr. Paula Clifford, Head of Church Communications at Christian Aid and George Marshall, Director of the Climate Outreach Information Network. There will be 10 workshops on a variety of subjects. For more information visit: www.sageoxford.org.uk/noah_m.htm or the CEL website.
Sunday 12 th February.
Give us, Father, a surer trust in your power, a deeper sense of companionship with fellow followers of Christ and a greater boldness in taking up our cross and standing against the forces of evil in your world. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Monday 13 th February.
International aviation from UK airports contributes 5% of UK greenhouse gas emissions and is the fastest growing contributor to climate change. Short haul flights are especially damaging because of heavy fuel use during take-off and landing. One return flight from the UK to Florida produces as much CO2 as a year's driving by the average UK motorist. Many now ‘offset' their carbon emissions by supporting projects that reduce carbon dioxide, so making their air travel ‘carbon neutral'. Several websites have information on how this can be done, such as: www.foc-uk.com and www.eta.co.uk/climate.asp Climate Care has a ‘market place' at http:www.co2.org/individuals/market.cfm for offsetting a wide range of activities such as mortgages, holidays, gas and electricity consumption. The Flying Off to a Warmer Climate site at http://www.chooseclimate.org/flying is amusingly informative about flying and global warming.
Tuesday 14 th February.
Over 40% of the waste in our bins is retail packaging. Now a trial of recycled PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic bottles has been set up by the Government's Waste & Resources Action Plan (WRAP). Coca-Cola now produces recycled plastic (rPET) bottles and finds it takes much less oil to make rPET than virgin PET, leading to cost savings. Boots and M & S are also participating through recycling specialists London Remade and Closed Loop London. M & S customers are “overwhelmingly supportive” and according to WRAP's research 79% of customers feel more positive about a brand that uses recycled plastic. Britain's first plastic recycling plant is due to open later this year.
Wednesday 15 th February.
Recent Government figures show that Britain is on course to recycle at least 25% of its waste by the end of this year. Belgium however recycles 52%, Germany 57%, Austria 59% and the Netherlands 68%. Top local authority in the recycling league is St Edmundsbury (Bury St Edmunds) which recycles or composts 50.6% of its waste (a 15% improvement on the previous year), while Forest Heath, South Cambridgeshire, Lichfield, Harborough, Rushcliffe, Daventry and Cherwell all recycled more than 43%. The worst performers were the London Boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets, followed by Liverpool, High Peak and Wirral. If each of us recycled 20 wheelie bins-full a year, Britain would be recycling 60% of its waste.
Thursday 16 th February.
Last year there were thirteen winners of the National Recycling Awards, among them HM Young Offenders Institution, Wetherby. 106 boys there have finished the introductory course of a training programme accredited by the Chartered Institute of Waste Management and 16 of them are now in trainee jobs. Rubbish recycling in the prison has reached 45% with cash savings to match. For details ring 01937 544 200 or visit: www.nationalrecyclingawards.com
Friday 17 th February.
“Grey water” is water that has already been used for applications excluding toilet waste. A study at Cranfield University is producing an audit of grey water from students' hand basins, showers and baths collected from 18 student flats. The grey water is pooled and pumped to holding tanks where it is tested for pathogens and for trialling a range of treatments including a membrane bioreactor, a membrane chemical reactor, two kinds of reedbeds and the green roof water recycling system supported by WWF. Early results indicate the presence in grey water of Pseudomonads, Staphyloccus and Clostridium pathogens. The challenge is to find reliable ways of treating grey water to eliminate such pathogens.A vertical flow reedbed system appears to be the most effective so far. For details visit: www.wand.uk.net or email Dr. Lisa Avery at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 18 th February.
The Stockholm Junior Water Prize is awarded annually to students aged 16-20 who submit a practical project aimed at improving livelihoods and ecosystem health in the water environment. Entries of not more than 15 pages can be sent by post to CIWEM, 15 John Street, London WC1N 2EB or emailed to: email@example.com not later than 1/6/06. Projects can be in the field of technology, natural or social science using innovative development methods and approaches to solve water problems. Schools intending to enter must notify CIWEM by 30 th April 2006.
Sunday 19 th February.
“We can say today that man is far too clever to survive without wisdom . . . The exclusion of wisdom from economics, science and technology was something we could get away with for a little while, as long as we were relatively unsuccessful; but now that we have become very successful, the problem of spiritual and moral truth moves into central position.” (E.F.Schumacher)
Give us, loving Father, the wisdom so to deal with the things we possess that they may never possess us. Deliver us from reliance on our own cleverness in science and technology. Banish our fears as we face new challenges and keep our feet always on the path of justice and peace, for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ.
Monday 20th February.
Some of Britain's largest greenhouses for growing tomatoes are at Billingham on Teesside. Nearby is an ammonia production factory belonging to Terra Nitrogen. A by-product of ammonia production is around 12,500 tonnes of CO2 a year. Under the Tees Valley Regeneration Scheme this surplus carbon dioxide is pumped into the greenhouses to promote plant growth. The Teesside tomatoes help reduce the amount of imported tomatoes from Spain and Italy, so saving about 250,000 food miles a year. Sainsbury's are enthusiastic about getting tomatoes on their shelves in prime condition soon after picking. They say: “Why stop at tomatoes? The concept of linking horticulture to industry could be extended to other sites across the UK and to other areas of crop production.” The present 23 acres of greenhouse will soon be increased to 38 and the whole scheme will create 60-65 new jobs. Contacts:
Tees Valley Regeneration on 01642 632000. Website: www.teesvalleyregeneration.co.uk
Tuesday 21 st February .
Wal-Mart, the world's biggest retail company, has unveiled plans to invest $500 million to cut its output of greenhouse gases. Its 5,000 stores are to cut their emissions by 25% in 5 years and its lorry fleet will raise its fuel efficiency by 25% in 3 years. It also pledged to eliminate a quarter of the solid waste generated by its stores, to reduce product packaging and to introduce organic products ‘at everyday low prices'. Suppliers in China and the US will be awarded Wal-Mart contracts according to their progress in sustainable practices. It is easy to be cynical about a company which 56% of Americans believe to be “bad for America”, but, as Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute points out, “Wal-Mart has the scale and market power to change what is offered, and to change it rapidly. They are a big enough buyer to get suppliers' undivided attention.” Almost overnight Wal-Mart has become the world's biggest purchaser of 100% organic cotton products.
Wednesday 22 nd February.
The unpredictability of wind power is a common criticism of the technology: where there's no wind, there's no power. But conversely, when there is wind, there's a surplus of potential power which can't be absorbed by the grid. Anglesey-based Wind Hydrogen Ltd. intends to tackle this by using surplus power from its wind farms to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. It's then stored and either burned in gas turbines or used in fuel cells, to produce electricity during periods of low wind. “If the hydrogen economy does happen” says director Declan Pritchard, “we can modify our operation to produce an excess of hydrogen that can go into the fuel transport sector or into electricity generation.”
Thursday 23 rd February.
` The chemical industry on Teesside produces 75,000 tonnes of hydrogen a year and has an extensive storage and distribution infrastructure. The generators and potential consumers are linked by 30 km.of pipelines, so 700,000 people are not far from a hydrogen main. It is mainly produced from methane, but there are plans for a coal gasification plant, producing hydrogen and carbon dioxide. The latter will be piped into the seabed below North Sea oil wells to enhance the recovery of oil. The plant should be in production by 2009.
Friday 24 th February.
According to the Energy Saving Trust, electrical appliances on standby consume £740 million worth of energy each year. The worst culprits are desktop PCs and digital TV boxes. Even the garage door opener requires 3.5 watts when it's ‘asleep'. Standby electricity consumption accounts for 7% of UK domestic consumption. The US Federal Agency is now required to buy appliances with a maximum standby consumption of 1 watt. Australia has a 10-year 1-watt target for products from dishwashers to DVD players.
In the UK new regulations are urgently needed.
Saturday 25 th February.
Nitrous oxide emitted from vehicles is a growing menace. Last month Camden council installed 1,200 sq.metres of ‘photocatalytic' pavement slabs which are expected to reduce NOx levels in Southampton Row by up to 30%. The blocks contain titanium oxide which, when exposed to sunlight, breaks down nitrogen into oxygen and a harmless nitric acid solution. In addition, Imperial College and Global Engineering will test the similarly-constituted “Ecopaint” on a school façade in Aldgate. The suppliers, Millenium Chemicals, believe the trials are a step towards the “photocatalytic street”, complete with painted facades and absorbent pavements.
Sunday 26 th February.
Loving Father, you sent your Son to be a light to those who walk in darkness. May we who have brought your creation to the edge of darkness see clearly the new paths that we must follow if we are to restore your world, in accordance with the commands given in your Word.
Monday 27 th February.
Fossil fuel-burning power stations, for every 100 energy units of coal or gas they burn, generate a mere 38.5 electricity energy units. A further 3.5 units are lost in transmission. Of these 35 units, a further 11 escape through poorly-insulated roofs, walls and windows. Decentralised Energy (DE), according to Greenpeace, is the answer. Where local communities adopt advanced technologies like Combined Heat & Power plants (CHP), solar panels or wind turbines, they reduce both the demand and the reliance on the national grid.
When Woking Borough Council converted its buildings to DE, as well as minimising their demand for electricity with energy-conservation measures, they reduced their electricity use by 77%. Excess locally-generated electricity was sold to low-income families at reduced rates. Local CO2 emissions fell accordingly.
If all local authorities followed suit, the UK could not only meet its Kyoto commitments, but also the Government commitment to a 20% reduction from 1990 levels by 2010.
Tuesday 28 th February.
Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) was the subject of a survey of 406 families, the results being published in the American Journal of Public Health. These showed that simply playing or being in an area with some green element, even a tree-lined street or a backyard with a tree, calmed and improved focus and behaviour. Ball games at the local park proved more beneficial than ball games in a treeless back yard. The researchers commented: “Simply using nature may offer a way to manage ADHD symptoms that is readily available, doesn't have any stigma associated with it (unlike Ritalin – ed.), doesn't cost anything, and doesn't have any side effects, except maybe splinters!” Another study carried out in Georgia State schools suggested that one of the prime causes of ADHD was being confined for too long in class rooms without the ability to play in natural surroundings.
Green Health Watch magazine
Oxford Research Group
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