“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit
intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.” (Romans 8.26-27)
“God pours his redemptive power into the world through the funnel of his people's prayers. The more prayer that is made, the more power gets through.
In some situations God does not move except in response to the prayers of his people.” (W.E. Sangster)
“Prayer is the purest exercise of the faculties God has given us – an exercise that links our faculties with our Maker in order to work out his intentions.”
Thursday 1 st June.
A new report from Christian Aid claims that 182 million people in sub-Saharan Africa alone could die of disease directly attributable to climate change by the end of the century. Sir John Houghton, former chairman of the International Panel for Climate Change (IPCC), comments: “This report exposes clearly and starkly the devastating impact that human-induced climate change will have on many of the world's poorest people.” Warren Evans, head of environment at the World Bank says: “We as a development institution have to focus on the fact that millions of people will suffer from climate change. The last G8 summit pushed African development but didn't focus on the impact of climate change. We need to catch up on our understanding of that.”
Friday 2 nd June.
The US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration reports that global CO 2 levels have reached 381 ppm during 2005 – the 2 nd highest annual rise recorded. A leaked report from the IPCC says that global temperatures will rise by 2-4.5 0 C. over the next 44 years. According to Sir David King, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, a rise of 3 0 would most likely cause droughts, famine and mass extinctions. The US report adds: “There is widespread evidence of anthropogenic warming of the climate system in temperature observations taken at the surface, in the free atmosphere and in the oceans. It is very likely that greenhouse gas forcing has been the dominant cause of the observed global warming over the past 50 years.
Saturday 3 rd June.
Today's conference on Climate Change meets at the London School of Economics, Houghton Street WC2A 2AE from 9.45 am to 6 pm . The sixteen morning workshops cover every aspect of Climate Change. The afternoon plenary session includes speakers such as Norman Baker MP, Caroline Lucas MEP, author Mark Lynas, George Marshall of Climate Outreach & Information Network and others. The programme includes the planning of a day of action on November 4 th in connection with the International Climate Talks at Nairobi . Entry is free and non-ticketed. For more information ring 0207 8339311, email: email@example.com or visit: www.campaigncc.org
Sunday 4 th June. Environment Sunday. Worship resources are available from: A Rocha UK, 13 Avenue Road, Southall UB1 3BL, or ring 020 8574 5935.
Father, we thank you for a new awareness among many people of the need to care for and to heal your world. Show us, we pray, the actions we can take to play our part in the healing process, to lead by example and to be prepared to give reasons for what we do.
Monday 5 th June.
Today is World Environment Day. The UN General Assembly declared that 2006 is the International Year of Deserts and Desertification. This is defined as “land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors including climatic variations and human activities.” “The consequences include food insecurity, famine and poverty. The ensuing social economic and political tensions can create conflicts, impoverishment and further land degradation. Growing desertification threatens to increase by millions the number of poor forced to seek new homes and livelihoods.”
Drylands contain 43% of the world's cultivated land. Degradation causes an estimated loss of $42 billion a year from agricultural production. Restoring soil lost by erosion is slow. It can take 500 years for 2.5 cm. of soil to form. Better management of crops, more careful irrigation and strategies to provide non-farming jobs, e.g. in wildlife management and tourism, for people living in drylands, could help to address the problems.
Tuesday 6 th June.
In a debate at the Global Development Forum in March Professor Chris Rapley, Director of the British Antarctic Survey, asked whether human population growth was a bigger threat to the planet than climate change. He called for scientists and policy-makers to drop their de facto embargo on discussion of population, which he called “the Cinderella of the great sustainability debate – rarely visible in public, or even in private.” His estimate of a sustainable world population of 2-3 billion (less than half the current figure) is supported by figures from the Optimum Population Trust, which calculated that if everyone stopped using fossil fuels and was leading a Western lifestyle but based entirely on renewable energy, it would still need 2.8 planets to support it. World population would thus need to be about 35% of present levels. Yet world population is forecast by the UN to grow to 9.1 billion by 2050.
Wednesday 7 th June.
Lester Brown's recent book “Outgrowing the Earth” includes these figures:
15% of the world has 81% of the income, whereas 22% has less than $1 a day.
13% of the world is permanently hungry; another 10% is obese.
North Americans consume 430 litres of water a day; 23% of people in the South have no access to clean water.
North Americans have 75 motor vehicles per 100 people; in China , India and Africa , there are just 2.
Sustainable development often assumes the world can be saved by bringing everyone up to our levels of consumption. Lester Brown calculates that this would need six planets the size of the Earth. He emphasises the importance of raising food productivity, protecting cropland, stabilising water tables and stabilising the climate. Yet he sees population growth as critical, though others say that it is over-consumption, rather than population, that is the problem. Perhaps it is both.
Thursday 8 th June.
A report from the International Water Management Institute states that it takes 70 times more water to grow the food we eat than to supply water for drinking, cooking, bathing and other domestic needs. In Africa and Asia 2,000 litres of water are used to produce 1 kilo of rice or wheat. In an efficient system, 500 litres are sufficient. The report calls on researchers to improve water efficiency in agriculture throughout the world.
Friday 9 th June.
Deaths from natural disasters were 2.7 million in 1956-65 (including 2 million in the Chinese floods of 1959), but 0.9 million in 1996-2005. Yet the number of people affected by natural disasters has grown from under 1 billion in 1976-85 to 2.5 billion in 1996-2005. Poor countries are especially vulnerable. Ecuador lost over 11% of its GDP in the El Nino event of 1997-8, while the Mozambique floods of 2000 cost the country 45% of its GDP. Measures to mitigate the effects of natural disasters include:
Ensuring high standards of building construction and prohibiting building in high-risk areas;
Improvements in flood defences;
Public information systems dealing with natural hazards;
Detailed evacuation plans;
Emergency stocks of food, blankets & medical supplies;
Investment in seismology, meteorology, ecology & water management;
Insurance coverage for populations at risk.
Saturday 10 th June.
According to the World Disasters Report, over 300 aid agencies competed for projects in 40 Indian villages hit by the Asian tsunami. Less than a quarter of the 200 agencies working in Aceh told the UN what they were doing. The result was confusion, duplication of effort and distress for the victims. The 2003 Baam earthquake destroyed 85% of the city, yet local Iranian rescue teams, though hampered by loss of their HQ and four team members, were deployed within minutes and saved 157 lives. International teams which arrived days later with remote sensing equipment saved a further 22. According to UNICEF, nearly all the 10,000 children orphaned by the Asian tsunami had been adopted locally within two months. In most developing countries it is the extended families who provide the bedrock of support for disaster victims.
Sunday 11 th June.
Father, we sometimes feel overwhelmed by the scale and complication of the environmental problems we face. Help us to see how we may respond in our daily lives to the challenges that face us, and teach us to see that where we lead, others may follow.
Monday 12 th June.
Britain 's Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) now estimates that its nuclear waste clean-up programme could cost £72 billion - £14 billion up from their previous estimate. But even this omits the cost of long-term storage of nuclear waste and the decommissioning of MOD nuclear sites. The Committee on Radioactive Waste Management reports that, besides the 351,000 cu. metres of high- and medium-level waste at UK nuclear sites, there are an additional 18 million cu. metres of contaminated earth and rubble. 80% of radioactive waste held at NDA sites is unstabilised and potentially mobile.
Tuesday 13 th June.
In 1995 Ukraine agreed to close the Chernobyl plant by 2000 with aid from the European Bank for Reconstruction & Development (EBRD). Framatone, a French company, contracted in 1999 to store 3,000 tonnes of spent fuel at Chernobyl at a cost of 68 million euros. Costs have since escalated to 275 million euros, the completion date has been put back to 2010 and the EBRD has refused to allocate further funds because of the spiralling costs. The Ukraine Government reports that 4 tonnes of radioactive material have leaked from the shelter enclosing the wrecked reactor. The concrete shelter is decaying and at risk of collapse. Work on replacing the shelter cannot begin until the spent fuel from the neighbouring reactor is moved and stored.
Wednesday 14 th June.
A report from nuclear engineers, John Large Associates, into the transportation of spent nuclear fuel concludes that:
The rail network along which spent fuel flasks travel is virtually impossible to defend with absolute certainty;
Nuclear trains carry no apparent extra security, and they travel by regular timetabled routes;
The transportation flasks could easily be punctured by armour-piercing explosives. If followed by a fierce fire inside a tunnel, this would cause a significant radioactive release into the environment;
Numerous portable anti-tank weapons, capable of being handled by one or two individuals, are capable of breaching flask walls.
Detailing a worst-case scenario, the report considers what would happen if a nuclear train were attacked inside London 's Hampstead Heath tunnel (one of the regular routes taken). “The Royal Free Hospital and two primary schools (all less than 250 metres away) would be immediately affected; local residents from as far away as Westminster would need to be evacuated; across the rest of the capital thousands of people would have to shelter indoors from the radioactive plume; economic activity would cease in the contaminated area, no-go areas would be created inhibiting the movement of people and transport systems, tourism would collapse and parts of the city could be uninhabitable for years unless effective decontamination was completed at great cost and health detriment to the personnel involved.”
It is reported that the terrorists who bombed London last July had been gathering detailed information about nuclear installations and radioactive materials in the months before they struck.
Thursday 15 th June. The CEL discussion paper “Faith and Power” draws attention to the waste of energy both at the generation stage, the transmission stage and through inefficient use in housing, offices and factories. The recent report of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution concluded that, without further investment in nuclear power, a 47% reduction in energy demand is required to meet the climate change target for 2050. According to the Tyndall Centre's report “Decarbonising the UK ” this is feasible. However, the CEL paper recognises that reduced consumption may require a degree of sacrifice, foregoing lifestyle options to prioritise the needs of others. It calls on the Government to implement stricter energy efficiency requirements for new buildings, vehicles and appliances, curbs to the growth of aviation, phasing out the sale of conventional light bulbs, incentives for home insulation and the use of public transport, a carbon tax applicable when fossil fuels are purchased and inducements for supply companies to provide energy services.
Friday 16 th June.
Heat storage tanks can cut energy use by 50-70%. This can be achieved through the thermal properties of paraffin, used to capture up to 10 kWh in a storage tank measuring 2 x 1 x 1 metre. As the paraffin melts, it takes in large amounts of heat. When the heat is released, the paraffin cools and returns to the solid state. Storing excess heat means that boilers can be fired less frequently. Used in conjunction with solar systems, all the heat produced on a sunny day can be stored and used when necessary, losing perhaps 1 0 C. overnight. Following the success of the technology in Germany , First Light Energy has presented its heat tanks at the Nemex Exhibition at NEC, Birmingham .
Saturday 17 th June.
The Climate Change Bill now going through Parliament will require the Government to set a target of cutting carbon emissions by 3% a year. There are countless ways of achieving this. If every household installed three energy-efficient light bulbs, the saved electricity could power all the street lights in Britain . Phillips has developed a light-emitting dioxide (LED) light which uses one-eighth of the electricity of a standard bulb and produces better quality light. Marine Current Turbines has had a successful trial of its tidal energy project off Lynmouth since 2003, but if funding of nuclear energy means a reduction in funding for renewables, this firm is one of many that may have to consider re-locating abroad.
Sunday 18 th June.
Father God, you have inspired thinkers and scientists down the ages to search out the mysteries of your creation and to benefit humankind in so many fields. Send down your Holy Spirit now, in this our time of need, that he may reveal the path that we must now follow if we are to fulfil your purposes on earth. Remove all prejudice, special pleading and vested interests from our society, that we may truly seek your will and find the courage to surmount all obstacles. This we beg in the name of your dear son, Jesus Christ.
Monday 19 th June.
Micro wind turbines produced by the Scottish company Windsave can be bolted on to a house roof or an outside wall. They are claimed to reduce electricity bills by at least 10%. They produce 45 decibels of sound, i.e. no louder than the hum of an air-conditioner. The British Wind Energy Association offers on its website ( www.bwea.com/small ) information on technologies, grants and planning. The experience of others is freely available through case studies on homes, businesses, primary schools and farms.
Tuesday 20 th June.
Bioethanol, made from sugar beet or cereals, has been launched in Norwich as an alternative fuel. Blended with 15% petrol, Bioethanol E85 has 50-70% lower CO 2 emissions than 100% petrol, and generates substantially more power by using bioethanol's higher octane rating. The Saab 9-5 and the Ford FlexiFuel are the only models at present capable of using it without adaptation. In Sweden the Saab 9-5 attracts lower company car tax, exemption from Stockholm 's congestion charges and free city parking. The EU-funded Bioethanol for Sustainable Transport initiative aims to equip 140 garages across Europe with bioethanol pumps and to get 10,000 bioethanol cars on the road.
Wednesday 21 st June.
Battery recycling trials have started for 350,000 households across Britain – designed to tie in with existing doorstep collections for paper, glass etc. Every household throws away on average 20 disposable batteries a year. The EU Batteries Directive requires at least 25% of them to be recycled by 2012. G & P Batteries Ltd. has opened Britain 's first recycling plant for the most common disposable batteries, but lead-acid car batteries will still have to be sent elsewhere in Europe . For more information ring WRAP on 0800 100 2040 or visit www.wrap.org.uk
Thursday 22 nd June.
100 million items of electrical goods go to landfill each year. The problem is that few of them are built to last and there is little incentive to recycle them. Soon the EU Waste Electronic & Electrical Equipment (WEEE) Directive will put the onus on producers and retailers to recycle old goods. Now the Recycling Electrical Producers' Consortium (REPIC), representing household names such as Panasonic, Sanyo, Aga and Dyson, is looking for outlets for recycled goods – such as using recycled glass in floor tiles or brickwork. Producers want to avoid an overloaded market for recycled goods (as happened a few years ago with the “fridge mountain”), so it is in their interest to make goods last longer and to create a new generation of electric kettles that work as efficiently after 10,000 boils as they do for 10.
Friday 23 rd June.
The 85-metre wind turbine on the Prudential site next to the M4 at Reading is just the first of Ecotricity's wind power developments for clients, which now include Michelin, Manchester City FC, Bristol Port Company and Ford at Dagenham. Ford's two turbines generate around 7 million kWh of electricity a year – enough to power their Clean Engine Facility which produces all Ford's diesel engines in Europe . Ford reports that the turbines produce energy 98% of the time and save 6,000 tonnes of CO 2 emissions a year. Ecotricity comments: “Directors are waking up to just what a huge cost they're having to pay for power. They're saying: ‘How can we escape this?' And the answer is simple: Onsite generation.”
Saturday 24 th June.
The FTSE4Good stock market listing was introduced five years ago to highlight companies with responsible investment policies. Seven hundred companies are included and the criteria for inclusion are becoming more stringent. This year 19 companies fell off the list, including Hilton Hotels, for failing to meet the criteria. Craig Mackenzie of the FTSE4 Good policy committee doesn't expect the listing to change the investment culture single-handedly, but it does give an early warning sign to investors who are switched on to sustainability. “A company that isn't facing up to future issues such as climate change is not managing its long-term business risks very well, and that's a good indicator that something is wrong.”
Sunday 25 th June.
Help us, Lord, so to deal with the things we possess that they may never possess us. May we live at peace with all your creation, and may we hold the goods that you have given us as instruments to be used in your service and for the furtherance of your kingdom on earth.
Monday 26 th June.
The EU has published figures for the first year of its carbon emission trading scheme. These show that 99% of the 9,400 polluting installations have met their targets. Under the scheme, polluting installations are given a fixed allowance of carbon which they can emit. Those that miss their targets have to buy carbon credits from those who have met theirs and have a surplus.
However, environmental campaigners, with many politicians, are unanimous in accusing governments of financial chicanery in granting their industries far too generous carbon emission allowances. WWF comments: “The market can only become functional and create incentives for cleaner industries if the amount of allowances is set at a level which is in line with Kyoto targets, allowing Europe to meet its international obligations. A loss of credibility in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme will also undermine the credibility of the EU in the negotiations for new Kyoto targets after 2012.” Chris Davies MEP commented: “Companies in France , Germany and elsewhere will only have themselves to blame if the European Commission ignores their views in future and imposes tough requirements to bring CO 2 reductions back on target.”
Tuesday 27 th June.
Farmers in Malawi are being encouraged to abandon traditional tobacco crops and plant instead the Jatropha tree as an energy crop. Its seeds contain an oil that can be used for cooking, lighting and generating electricity, or for blending with petrol or diesel to make biodiesel. In Indonesia government ministers, bankers and heads of energy companies have agreed a plan to have 10 million hectares of jatropha plantations by 2009, each hectare yielding enough oil to produce 1,000 litres of biodiesel a year. The idea is to replace fossil fuel-based power plants with those powered either by straight jatropha or biodiesel. Kyoto 's Clean Development Mechanism could be used to support the investment.
Each mature tree produces 5-15 kg. of seeds three times a year during its 30-year life span. Cars need no modification to use the resulting biodiesel. As Rudolf Diesel said in 1912: “ The use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become in the course of time as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time.”
Jatropha can be grown on poor-quality land unsuitable for food crops, and needs little water, fertiliser or pesticides. In fact it deters pests: no bird, mammal or insect eats it. In 2005, plans to adopt it were announced in Burkina Faso , Ghana , India , Nepal , Nicaragua and other countries. In India alone, plans to cultivate 10 million hectares with jatropha would generate 7.5 million tonnes of fuel a year and create jobs for 5 million people.
Wednesday 28 th June.
India's Supreme Court has ordered the ex-cruise ship Blue Lady (formerly the SS Norway) to be turned away from the shipbreaking yards in Gujarat because it contains 900 tonnes of toxic waste including asbestos and PCBs, and the shipbreaking yards have no facilities for removing the toxic waste without putting workers and the environment at risk. Others argue that the recycling of steel and other key components is the most suitable way to dispose of redundant ships. The workers often value the employment and the income brought by the ships. However, the Basel Convention forbids the sending of toxic waste to other countries and assigns the responsibility of disposal to the producer state.
The question remains: “What is to be done with the world's numerous redundant ships?
Thursday 29 th June.
The unsustainability of much of the fishing industry is plain to all. In 1948 the industry employed 48,000 people. It now employs fewer than 12,000. Marine conservationist Colin Speedie three years ago set up the WiSE (Wildlife Safe) accreditation scheme for managing marine wildlife tours. The original idea was a 2-day course in marine wildlife for tour operators, but now commercial fishermen are signing up in increasing numbers. The course teaches them how to approach dolphins, porpoises and basking sharks without physically or mentally harming them. Operators who complete the course get official accreditation and a listing on the WiSE website plus recognition from marine conservation groups. By 2010 there could be as many as 400 wildlife tour operators around our coasts – the majority of them accredited by WiSE.
Friday 30 th June.
“I was sceptical about climate change. I was cautious about crying wolf . . .
But I am no longer sceptical. Now I have no doubt at all. Climate change is the major challenge facing the world.” (Sir David Attenborough)
Father God, you have shown us clearly where our present lifestyle is leading us. Open the eyes of all – especially the rich and the powerful – and draw us together in a common determination to change our ways, to reduce our consumption of natural resources and to share what we have with others who have so little to sustain them.
Understanding Global Issues – Natural Disasters
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