“Sons are a heritage from the Lord, children a reward from him.”
“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” (Proverbs 22.6)
Jesus said: “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” (Luke 18.16)
“Children are unpredictable. You never know what inconsistencies they're going to catch you out in next.” (Franklin P. Jones)
Saturday 1 st April
28 schools in the Aberdeen area took part in a competition to create a fuel cell-powered model made from any material of their choice. The Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Challenge was launched by the fuel cell company SiGEN supported by the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group. Each team was provided with fuel cell model kit including a solar panel. Among the models was a flying machine, a rollercoaster and a radio beacon. They were judged in 4 categories – the most futuristic, practical, bizarre and innovative. Robert Gordon's College won the prize for the most practical and futuristic. SiGEN's director, Dave McGrath commented: “This is a crucial initiative to inform children, educationists, politicians, industry and the public about this exciting alternative energy technology. Despite having world-class fuel cell research in the UK , we trail badly in deploying them.” Entries next year will be encouraged across Scotland and eventually the competition will cover the whole UK .
Sunday 2 nd April
Lord of all life, we pray that as young people in each generation discover your world in their own way, so their energies may be used creatively in your service and their choices based on what is true and of lasting value.
Monday 3 rd April
The Climate Change College is a project designed by Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Company, with WWF, to offer to young people aged 18-25 a place on a 2006 mission to Greenland 's icecap. Experience in the polar region should greatly add to their knowledge and skills, making them effective and well-informed Climate Change ambassadors on their return home. The course includes workshops, lectures and internships with leading industry professionals. Students will be able to advise on the steps that businesses and people can take to limit further damage and work together in an activist network.. Of the 2007 recruits three will be from the UK and three from the Netherlands . They must be passionate about climate issues, motivated and resourceful. The shortlisted candidates will be selected at a one-day workshop. Jerry Greenfield, after travelling to Greenland with the polar explorer Marc Cornelissen, said: “The hugest impacts on global warming come from industry, so I believe it needs to take a leading role. Take it from a couple of ice-cream guys, if it's melted, it's ruined!”
Tuesday 4 th April
Ten energy projects have received “Green Energy” awards for 2005 from the Energy Minister, Malcolm Wicks. Britain 's third offshore wind farm consisting of 30 turbines in the Thames Estuary capable of powering 3,500 homes, was one award-winner. Onshore wind projects at Cefn Croes in South Wales and in South Lanarkshire together provide green power for 110,000 homes. Three solar power projects also gained awards: part of the Science Museum in London was fitted with solar panels and the Museum is planning an exhibition on solar energy, its supply and its future, to demonstrate that renewable energy is as viable an option for public buildings as it is for homes. Micro-generation turbines at the Nissan plant in Sunderland produce 5% of the energy needed to run the plant, so saving 10,000 tonnes of CO 2 emissions a year. Finally, students at the Spen Valley Sports Centre near Leeds devised a wind turbine project which earned them an award.
Wednesday 5 th April
Cob is said to be the oldest, safest and most eco-friendly building material ever used. Consisting of clay subsoil, a sand aggregate, straw and water mixed to create a homogenous, sticky material that sets harder than concrete, it can be used to build houses, floors, fireplaces, ovens, garden walls etc. If it is protected from rain and separated from the ground by a stone plinth, it will last indefinitely. Cob is non-polluting, 100% recyclable and uses little energy in its extraction. All the ingredients are locally available and can be mixed by tractor or foot – the foot method being particularly enjoyed by children and teenagers. Many Cornish schools have hosted cob workshops, where pupils have taken part in building projects. Contacts: Katy and Adam on 01326 231 773; website: www.cobincornwall.com Book: “Building with Cob: a Step by Step Guide” (publ. Green Books)
Thursday 6 th April
Breeding perennial crops of cereals such as wheat and maize is the long-term aim of the Kansas-based Land Institute. Agronomist Wes Jackson has crossed conventional cereals with wild perennials such as quackgrass, and the hybrids are setting viable seed. Because perennial seeds are not sown each year, there are fewer fossil fuel-powered machines compacting the soil. Less ploughing means less erosion, so keeping the goodness locked up in the earth. Jackson 's goal is not a perennial monoculture, but a polyculture – putting species together and mimicking nature's ecosystem. Contacts: www.landinstitute.org or telephone +1 7855 823 5376.
Friday 7 th April
The UK 's first bio-ethanol refinery for producing road fuel from wheat has been given planning permission and is expected to start operating in 2007 at Henstridge, Somerset , with an annual output of 100,000 tonnes of bio-ethanol destined for blending with ordinary petrol. The new Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation requires all road fuel to contain at least 5% biofuel by 2010, so presenting a tempting opportunity for Britain 's hard-pressed farmers. Contacts: www.greenspiritfuels.com or ring 01963 365259.
Saturday 8 th April
By 2020 Sweden will have broken its dependency on oil, according to its Sustainable Development Minister, Mona Sahlin. “By then,” she said, “no home will need oil for heating. By then, no motorist will be obliged to use petrol as the sole option available. By then, there will always be better alternatives to oil.” A committee of academics, industrialists and farmers is expected to recommend an expansion of woodchip fuel production and power generation by wind and wave turbines. Recent budgets have included measures to encourage greater use of biofuels, tax breaks for greener motoring and incentives for householders to switch from oil heating to renewables and promoting the spread of district heating by combined heat and power plants. “ Sweden has the chance,” she said, “to be an international model and a successful actor in export markets for alternative solutions. Breaking dependence on oil brings many opportunities for strengthened competitiveness, technological development and progress.”
Sunday 9 th April . Palm Sunday.
Father, whose dear son rode this day towards that city which closed its heart against him, may we not shut from him any part of the city of life, but acknowledge him as Ruler and hail him as King in everything we do and say and think, that knowing the things which belong unto our peace, we may be his and he may be ours, for ever and ever. (Leslie Weatherhead)
Monday 10 th April
The Tyndall Centre for Climate Research in its report “Decarbonising the UK ” urges the Government to impose minimum standards in its drive to cut carbon emissions. For example:
All new cars should meet a minimum mpg standard by 2010;
Fridges and freezers sold after 2008 should not exceed a maximum energy use;
Best practice building regulations should be raised incrementally at 2-year intervals;
Electrical gadgets should phase out ‘standby' buttons or meet tough new consumption standards;
Conventional light bulbs should be phased out by 2008 and replaced by low-energy bulbs;
Growth in aviation should be limited and expansion at existing airports curtailed.
For more details visit: www.tyndall.ac.uk or ring 01603 593900.
Tuesday 11 th April
A Code for Sustainable Homes, announced by the Government last month, prepares the ground for Energy Efficiency Ratings for all homes, new and old. But the Code does not apply to commercial buildings and, worse, it is voluntary. New building regulations, which are mandatory, will improve the energy efficiency of new homes, but only to a standard far short of those set out in the Code.
Wednesday 12 th April
EU pollution standards require nitrogen dioxide levels at airports to be kept below 40 micrograms per cu. metre of air. A study by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP) has found that, out of twenty-three British airports surveyed, only one had levels below the EU standard for this pollutant, which can cause severe breathing difficulties. Heathrow, Gatwick, Newcastle and Birmingham recorded levels between 69 and 70 m g/m 3 of the gas. CSP spokesman Professor Grahame Pope said: “The effects of airport emissions on air quality and public health are of serious concern to physiotherapists. It's not just nitrogen dioxide polluting the environment around airports; our study reveals high ozone concentrations at some sites. . . . With cheap flights making air travel more affordable, several airports want to expand capacity. We would urge the Government to consider ways of balancing passenger convenience with improving public health when looking at these proposals.” FoE comments that tax breaks save airlines £9.2 billion a year, i.e. £300 for every taxpayer. “An extra tax of £10 per passenger per flight would make those responsible for the pollution foot the bill.”
Thursday 13 th April
The EU is about to commit 157 billion euros of its Structural and Cohesion Funds to infrastructure projects in Eastern Europe , including waste incinerators, dams and motorways. FoE and Bankwatch have published a map pinpointing 22 of these projects with environmental or socially damaging effects. They include a hazardous waste incinerator in Bulgaria 's heavily-polluted region of Stara Zagora , and the Nieszawa dam on Poland 's Vistula river that would destroy unique wildlife habitats while failing to reduce the flood risk. Bankwatch comments: “The projects shown on the map are on a collision course with the EU's own policies and goals. They damage the environment, have socially adverse effects and are economically unjustified or, in some cases, legally deficient.”
Friday 14 th April. Good Friday
Father God, as on this solemn day we bow at the foot of the cross, may the love that was manifested there stream into our hearts, challenging and subduing them and winning from us that response which is your will and purpose for us. This we pray for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ.
(Leslie Weatherhead – adapted)
Saturday 15 th April
The Church of England's new Environmental Adviser, David Shreeve, has launched a major environmental review of Lambeth Palace to be carried out by MSc. Graduates of Imperial College. Reporting considerable interest among churches and dioceses in developing environmental policies, he said: “(This review) will help to underline how seriously the Church at its highest level now takes environmental issues, and that those with responsibilities in this country and around the Anglican Communion will follow Lambeth Palace 's example.”
Sunday 16 th April. Easter Day.
Lord God, by whose power Christ was raised from the dead, so that the worst that men could do had no dominion over him, lay your hand in loving tenderness on all who need this message most. Because the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost, we pray –
For those who have lost their dear ones and whose hearts are sad;
For those who have lost their health and vitality;
For those who have lost their youth;
For those who have lost their livelihood;
For those who have lost opportunities;
For those who have lost patience;
For those who have lost their faith;
For all who have been wounded in the battle of life and are nigh to despair.
Give to us all a vision of Christ's risen glory, that we too may trust in his power; that we too may know that nothing can separate us from your loving purposes and nothing can finally defeat your will.
Monday 17 th April
The Welsh European Funding Office has approved funding for the Wave Dragon project consisting of wave turbines some 10 km. out to sea off Milford Haven. The eleven devices will channel waves into reservoirs above sea level and use their kinetic energy to generate electricity in the same way as do hydro-electric plants. The electricity will be fed into the mainland grid via power cables. This wave farm will produce 77 MW. of electricity – enough to power 60,000 homes. A recent study by the Carbon Trust found that wave power could supply 50 terawatt hours of electricity each year – enough to provide one-seventh of current UK consumption, while a further 18 terawatt hours could be produced from devices that harness the tides.
Tuesday 18 th April
A mobile shredder for bulky plastic items such as redundant wheelie bins and bakery trays will tour the country for the next six months, collecting, shredding and bagging 600 tonnes of rigid plastics from commercial and industrial premises. Funded by the Waste and Resources Action Group (WRAP), the operation will be carried out by Manchester-based Axion Recycling. Paul Davidson, WRAP's manager, adds: “Traditionally these bulky items have been a no-go area for recycling because the transport costs were just not economically viable. We hope that this trial will demonstrate a feasible solution and provide reprocessors with additional plastics for recycling.” Anyone interested in the shredding service can ring Axion on 0161 426 7731.
Wednesday 19 th April
A survey of office workers by Fujitsu Siemens Computers found that failure to switch off PCs costs British industry £123.2 million a year. 37% of those questioned indicated that they did not turn off their PCs on leaving the office, although 27% said they had actively lobbied their employer to implement policies such as energy saving, recycling and procurement of green IT systems. Garry Owen of Fujitsu Siemens Computers comments: “It was surprising to see that so many workers claimed to have ‘gone green' in the workplace yet still overlooked the most basic way to save energy – to turn their PC off when it's not in use. UK businesses need to consider both the financial and environmental implications of leaving a computer running and making it their policy to turn off PCs each night. So many employees think it's sufficient to leave their PCs on standby, but this still wastes valuable energy resolurces.”
Thursday 20 th April
A mobile hospital unit powered by solar PV cells has been donated to the Malaqwi Millennium Project by Renewable Devices of Edinburgh (the makers of Swift wind turbines) in partnership with Scottish & Southern Energy plc. The module consists of a recycled shipping container converted to house sterile medical equipment, a fridge for vaccines, refurbished computers and communications equipment. Further modules are being designed for scientific exploration and for disaster relief at remote sites. The University of Strathclyde , Bell College and the University of Malawi are collaborating to ensure that further modules can be made in Malawi .
Contacts: Renewable Devices on 0131 535 3403. The Malawi Millennium Project website: www.strath.ac.uk/projects/malawi
Friday 21 st April
Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, Colorado , in a lecture in London last month entitled “Nuclear power – economics and climate-protection potential”, pointed out that in China , Korea and France not one penny of private money has gone into nuclear investments. As for public money, the UK nuclear industry has already had two expensive bailouts. “Making the same mistake a third time would astonish future historians.”
He calculated that every dollar spent on nuclear energy now generates 10 kWh of electricity. Yet every dollar spent on wind power generates 12-17 kWh, every dollar spent on gas-fired combined heat and power in homes buys (adjusting for carbon emissions) 20-65 kWh, and every dollar spent on generating heat from waste buys 24-89 kWh, while end-use efficiency (i.e. energy saving) creates at least 100 kWh of savings.
“What is more, energy efficiency and renewables are getting rapidly cheaper because of new and improved technologies, offshore and high-volume manufacturing, competition, streamlined delivery and (above all) integrative design. The speed and further scope for all these improvements far exceeds any plausible improvements for nuclear power.”
Saturday 22 nd April
The Environment Agency recently invited 300 local children to participate in its Salmon Homecoming project on the River Taff in South Wales, set up to celebrate the return of the salmon after two centuries of industrial pollution. The fish taught them more than one might think. Besides tips on tackle, they learnt much environmental knowledge, numeracy, literacy and team working. “So”, asks Ian Christie, a freelance journalist, “If there really is a link between healthy rivers and thriving kids, why does so much regeneration focus on hard-nosed economics and marginalize the value of the environment? The current approach seems to measure a project's success by the number of jobs created or buildings refurbished. But shouldn't we be paying attention to what green spaces bring to local economies and the spirit of communities? . . . Renewal projects like these seem so much more successful in touching the parts that traditional, property=-based regeneration schemes find it hard to reach. And how much longer they'll sustain the community than a carpark planting scheme or a lick of paint on a new shopping mall?”
Sunday 23 rd April
Lord of Creation, the life we possess is your gift. Teach us to value it and to use it wisely and responsibly, for we have but one life to live, one life in which to serve your Church, to advance your Kingdom and to be of help to others. Show us your purposes for our life, and fire us to act.
Monday 24 th April
Mileage allowances, as generally operated, pay people more the more mileage they clock up, the bigger their car and so the more they pollute – a classic example of a perverse subsidy. Teignbridge District Council plans to classify cars according to their emissions: for example, staff woth a Band A hybrid-electric Honda would be reimbursed at a rate of 60p. a mile, while a Band F old-fashioned Jaguar would qualify for only 25p. a mile. The snag is that, under the Approved Mileage Allowance Payments Scheme, the Inland Revenue would claw back part of any higher allowances for low-emission cars. What a splendid opportunity for the Chancellor to re-jig the tax regime on greener lines!
Tuesday 25 th April
A study by consultants Peter Brett Associates for British Waterways and Transport for London finds that a 32-mile stretch of the Grand Union Canal between Slough and West London could carry 640,000 tonnes of freight a year, so saving 50 lorry loads a day. Powerday's sorting and recycling facility at Willesden, opening this month, will used closed container barges to save 45,000 lorry miles over the next seven years, with 25 barge trips a day taking away its post-processing residues. British Waterways anticipate a pre-Olympic canal freight boom to carry construction materials around north-east London .
Wednesday 26 th April
On this, the 20 th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, areas of the Lake District and North Wales are still contaminated by the fall-out. A report from the Government's Sustainable Development Commission argues against a new nuclear programme on these grounds:
Cost. Estimates of the capital costs of building nuclear stations vary wildly and can escalate markedly with project overruns and increases in interest rates. On top of that, there are the costs of de-commissioning the stations at the end of their lives.
Waste. No solution has been found to the disposal of spent fuel, which is dangerous for 24,000 years and long-lasting in its effects.
Inflexibility. A new generation of big nuclear power stations would lock us into a centralised and wasteful electricity distribution system for the next fifty years. The future lies with micro-generation (small local power stations) and local distribution networks, as already planned for London .
Security. If we opt for the nuclear path, we cannot deny other countries the same technology. With lower safety standards, they run higher risk of accidents, proliferation and terrorist attacks. Frequent movements of reactor-grade fuel are vulnerable to seizure by terrorists for manufacture of a “dirty bomb”.
Efficiency. A new nuclear programme would convey the message that a technological fix alone will solve our energy problems, so allowing energy consumption to increase still further, and discouraging efforts to spread energy efficiency.
Thursday 27 th April
Between August 2004 and July 2005, 18,900 square kilometres of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest was de-forested according to Brazil 's National Research and Statistics Institute (INPE). After the murder of Sister Dorothy Stang in 2005 the Government sent in troops and imposed a moratorium on logging 8.2 million hectares in the state of Para, so reducing the rate of deforestation, though the devastated areas actually increased by 2.5%. The Environment Minister cautiously commented: “Our big challenge now is to make sure these results are constant and that governmental action is not only seasonal.”
Burning in the Brazilian Amazon releases about 370 million tons of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere each year – about 5% of the world total.
Friday 28 th April
Last month's oil spill in Alaska's North Slope was the biggest ever inland spill in the USA> Nobody knows when the oil began to escape, so estimates of the spill vary between 60,000 gallons to more than 270,000. Recovery has been slow as temperatures have dipped to –70 o C. and workers can only manage brief shifts before having to return to shelter. The spill makes nonsense of the claim of the US Administration that gas and oil reserves in the arctic National Wildlife Refuge can be tapped while causing little damage to the environment.
Saturday 29 th April
Environmental projects in the UK are now able to tap into a number of funding sources.
Sustainable funding advice for voluntary and community organisations about funding and financing options, and information on where to turn for further support is, available on the National Council for Voluntary Organisations' Sustainable Funding Project website at: www.ncvo-sfp.org.uk
The Voluntary Arts Network has published a guide to writing a successful funding application to enable anyone to discover what research is needed and how to prepare information in order to communicate clearly with a funder. Website: www.voluntaryarts.org
The Energy Saving Trust provides government grants of 50% towards installing solar panels in community buildings. Telephone 0800 298 3978 or visit: www.est.org.uk
Powergen will provide grants of up to £25,000 for renewable energy projects such as windpower or solar. Ring 0870 419 1706 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 30 th April
Christ has no body now on earth but ours,
No hands but ours, no feet but ours;
Ours are the eyes through which looks out Christ's compassion to the world;
Ours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Ours are the hands with which he blesses his people daily.
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Amen.
Green Futures (Forum for the Future)
Parish Pump News (Conservation Foundation)
Positive News & Living Lightly
Resurgence (Schumacher Society)
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