“The Lord takes delight in his people; he crowns the humble with salvation.”
“Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them.”
(Matthew 5.5 J.B. Phillips trans.)
“Meekness is not weakness. The meek are free from demandingness – the attitude of those who assert that everything should go their way, or that they ought to be given more consideration, or that people should respect their rights.
Robert Browning wrote: ‘He who keeps one end in view makes all things serve'.
When that one end is confidence in God's plan for our life, and his power to make it happen, then indeed all things serve.”
(The late Selwyn Hughes)
Friday 1 st September
The City of Las Vegas has doubled in size in 15 years. City officials are lobbying for a $1 billion pipeline to convey a billion cubic feet of groundwater from the fertile Snake Valley and the Great Basin National Park to provide enough water for an extra half million residents. Las Vegas , with its golf courses and ornamental fountains, uses 270 gallons of water per person per day, as compared with around 110 for other desert cities such as Phoenix and Tucson where water conservation is practised. A 3-day public hearing this month will determine whether the plan goes ahead.
Saturday 2 nd September
Downpipe diverters designed to channel bath, shower and washing machine water (so-called grey water) from our drains into watering the garden or washing the car are obtainable for £30 from www.naturalcollection.com Professional rainwater harvesting systems can be installed for less than £600, though automated and pump-powered systems cost upwards of £2,000. For more details, visit the Rain Harvesting Association's website: www.ukrha.org
Sunday 3 rd September
Thank you for the rain.
For the rain that runs and trickles down the window
And makes patterns on the glass.
For the rain that makes the crops and flowers grow
And gives us water to drink . . .
Thank you for the rain which makes big puddles in which we can jump.
Dear God, thank you for the rain,
And please take care of people who don't have enough rain and water to drink and must go many miles to get it.
Monday 4 th September
A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences by a team led by Dr. Marko Scholze of Bristol University finds that a 3 0 C. rise in global temperatures would cause the loss of half the world's major forests. A 2 0 C. rise, now regarded as inevitable even if the world immediately stopped emitting greenhouse gases, could cause the loss of 30% of forests in Europe , Asia , Canada , Central America and Amazonia . Less fresh water would be available in parts of West Africa , Central America , Southern Europe and Eastern Asia , raising the probability of droughts. Flooding would increase in tropical Africa and South America as trees were lost. Scientists at the UK Climate Impacts Programme predict that a 3 0 C. rise would reduce rainfall in Southern England by half, by 40% in the rest of England and 30% in Scotland . Dr. Scholze added that a rise of 3 0 C. was not inevitable.
Tuesday 5 th September
Sir Martin Rees, President of the Royal Society, writing in Science magazine, expresses dismay at the G8 leaders' “worrisome lack of determination” to accelerate development of new energy sources, given the expected 50% rise in the world's energy needs in the next 25 years and a corresponding rise in carbon emissions.
According to the International Energy Agency, 80% of the world's energy needs in 2030 will be met by fossil fuels. Nuclear, hydroelectric, biomass and waste power will provide only 17%, with other renewables such as solar and wind accounting for less than 2%.
Calling for a programme with the single-minded commitment of the US Apollo project, Sir Martin suggests an exploration of alternative energy sources with at least 10 times the $1.5 billion a year that goes into researching nuclear fusion.
“The Apollo project is an example where a goal was given a high priority and showed how things can be done much more rapidly than would have happened in the normal course of events. The scale of funds needed is small in proportion to the scale of the problem, and the trillions of dollars now being spent on energy. A carbon tax on companies generating the most greenhouse gases could be used to fund the project. Private companies themselves won't provide an adequate research effort even for technologies that may turn out to be the most important – simply because they are still the furthest from the market.”
Others say that what is required is a concerted sharing of the problem throughout the whole of industry. “Why should it be borne wholly by government when there are these companies making huge profits out of all of us?”
Wednesday 6 th September.
Tony Blair has suggested in a Radio 1 broadcast that we could all do our own carbon audit and turn down thermostats by 1 0 C. But voluntary carbon audits fall far short of the carbon trading scheme proposed by David Milliband. Next year, compulsory energy certificates for house-sellers will accustom some to monitor their carbon emissions. But why wait until then? Carbon emissions need to be taxed in the same way that income is taxed at present. The day must surely come when, instead of submitting annual income returns, we have to submit annual energy bills, MOT certificates and air travel vouchers.
Thursday 7 th September
Who, wonders Roger Hicks, was to blame for placing the last straw on the proverbial camel's back? The answer is, of course, no-one and everyone, though that answer becomes rather different if some place more straws on its back than others. “Let the camel represent the earth's carrying capacity, on which each of us has to place a certain number of straws in order to live. Although we do not know exactly how many it can carry, we can be sure that there is a limit – which will be exceeded if increasing numbers of people continue to pile on more and more straws.
Insanely, this is exactly what we are doing. Everyone can pile as many straws on to the camel's back as they have money to pay for, and are encouraged to do so by a growth-dependent economy and multi-billion dollar credit and advertising industries.
We urgently need estimates of what constitute a “straw”, i.e. carbon audits, and of how many straws the camel's back (our planet) can support, because we don't want to go anywhere near that limit – not unless we are completely mad.
Also, we need to think about fairness – how this limited number of straws is to be allocated among the Earth's 6 billion (forecast to be 9 billion by 2050) human inhabitants, because allowing the amoral, market-based free-for-all we have at the moment to continue is not an option – unless we want to join the dinosaurs.”
For more detail, visit: www.spaceship-earth.org
Friday 8 th September
The population of the city of Shenzhen in China 's Guangdong province has increased 32-fold in the last 25 years, reaching 10 million in 2005. The growth in energy demand associated with the population boom has prompted the city council to push for energy efficiency and the development of renewables.
On November 1 st a new law comes into force making it compulsory for all new residential buildings less than 12 storeys high to instal solar-powered heating systems. Those who defy the law face a fine of between $6,250 and $62,500 unless they can prove they are unable to comply.
By 2010 the Shenzhen Construction Bureau wants half the city's buildings to use solar water heating and a fifth to generate electricity from solar power.
Saturday 9 th September
The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee's recommendations to the Government on reducing carbon emissions from transport include:
Making public transport more affordable;
Introducing £300 gaps between road tax bandings;
Reconsidering the case for annual increases in fuel duty;
Using road use charges, in addition to congestion charges, to tackle climate change;
Properly enforcing, or lowering, the 70 mph speed limit on motorways;
Fundamentally re-thinking its airport expansion policy;
Raising Air Passenger duty;
Increasing taxes on domestic flights.
FoE comments: “Emissions from transport are still rising and forecasts suggest they will carry on rising for years to come. New legislation is needed to force Government departments to make tackling climate change an aim of their policies, with a commitment to reduce CO 2 emissions by 3% year on year.
Sunday 10 th September
Father, we pray, each one of us, for an honest appraisal of our own lifestyle, that we may admit, to ourselves and to you, all that we are contributing, directly and indirectly, to the pollution of your world. Help us to bear witness, by our example, to our resolve to amend our lives, so that others may take heart and act accordingly.
Monday 11 th September
Many of us fall into the trap of thinking that we can buy our way to a greener life.
Is it more of a drain on the planet's resources to buy a modern hybrid-electric car or to keep an old but less efficient car? Or to buy a new A-rated fridge rather to keep a well-tried but relatively inefficient old one? Or to buy a modern condensing boiler rather than to keep an old one which continues to give trouble-free service?
It is said that the poor are the true “greens” because they make do with what they have.
Maybe we need to buy only the things we really need, to re-use what we have, to share where we can and to recycle whatever we can no longer use.
Tuesday 12 th September
A series of meetings on the impact of population growth on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) begins today at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine at 6 p.m. “Population, Poverty and the MDGs” will be chaired by a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health with contributions from two distinguished speakers. For details visit: www.lshtm.ac.uk or www.populationandsustainability.org
Wednesday 13 th September
Eighty percent of the world's soya harvest is fed to livestock, much of which comes from the Amazonian rainforest.
In the past three years 70,000 sq. kilometres of the Amazon has been destroyed – equal to six football pitches a minute – largely to make way for soya plantations.
In July a conference including scientists, politicians and Christian leaders including the Bishop of Liverpool took place on a boat in the Amazon.
Partly as a result, talks between soya traders and food companies such as McDonalds have led to a moratorium on new soya plantations on freshly deforested land. Brazilian grain exporters, including Cargill and other multinationals have committed themselves to “seeking to reconcile environmental conservation with economic development, through responsible and sustainable use of Brazil 's natural resources.”
However, differences remain between conservationists and companies such as Cargill over the future of soya farming in the Amazon. Cargill insists that it is a vital part of development for 20 million people who are among Brazil 's poorest.
Thursday 14 th September
The Israeli bombing of Lebanon 's Jiyyeh oil-fired power station caused pollution over 140 km. of coastline last month. The EU and UN have offered resources and expertise to tackle the slick, while OPEC and the International Maritime Organisation are helping to bankroll the clean-up.
Meanwhile a tanker carrying 2 million litres of bunker oil sank off the Philippino island of Guimaras , threatening a major environmental disaster, which coastguards said could take a year to clean up.
Also last month, a Japanese tanker carrying more than 4 million litres of oil collided with a cargo ship west of the Nicobar Islands causing another major oil spill.
The industry plans to phase out single-hulled tankers and replace them with double-hulled vessels which, in the long term, should reduce the risks of oil spills.
Friday 15 th September
In July, a power cut at Sweden 's Forsmark 1 nuclear reactor led to a failure by two out of its four back-up generators. Without power to run its cooling system, a reactor can easily spill out of control, leading to nuclear meltdown as happened at Chernobyl in 1986. Swedish nuclear expert Lars-Olov Hogland said it was “pure luck that there was not a meltdown.” The faulty components which caused the incident were made by the German firm AEG and were used in other nuclear plants both in Germany , Sweden and elsewhere in Europe . Greenpeace comments:
“In the UK a generator failure like Sweden 's could easily happen, resulting in a meltdown in the reactor core. Nuclear power relies on old, inefficient centralised power grids that are vulnerable to power cuts. Unfortunately a small minority of European countries such as France , Finland and the UK seem determined to rely on dirty, dangerous and expensive nuclear power that can fail disastrously during a power cut and be shut down by droughts.”
Saturday 16 th September
Tomorrow is Big Clean Up day, when twenty clean-up events across England and Wales will give 6,000 people aged 16-25 the opportunity to improve their local communities, raise environmental awareness and have fun. The organisers, CSV, are the UK 's biggest volunteering and training organisation. The day is sponsored by ITV. For more information about the campaign, visit: www.itv.com/bigcleanup
Sunday 17 th September
“Lord, you asked for my hands that you might use them for your purposes. I gave them for a moment, then withdrew them, for the work was hard.” (Joe Seramane of South Africa )
Help us, Lord Jesus the carpenter, to be ready to get our hands dirty in your service. Amen.
Monday 18 th September
According to the House of Commons Trade and Industry Committee, the costs of the decommissioning and clean-up of Britain 's ageing nuclear plants have risen from £48 billion in 2002 to 56 billion in 2004 and 70.2 billion in 2006.
“The overall costs of £70.2 billion seem to us likely to rise significantly, both as further investigative work is done at the most difficult sites at Sellafield and Dounreay and because the nuclear industry appears reluctant to continue with reprocessing of spent fuel.” (Reprocessing is more expensive than buying in new nuclear fuel).
On the research into nuclear fusion, the committee thought that the relatively low costs of that research made it a good investment even if results could not be guaranteed. “Nothing in the restructuring and financing of UKAEA must inhibit our full participation in what is, potentially, an inherently safe and virtually unlimited source of power, producing very low levels of waste and using freely available fuel sources. This power could not only satisfy a large proportion of UK electricity demand but also produce other zero carbon energy sources such as hydrogen.” Others point to the extremely high temperatures required for nuclear fusion as an obstacle to its development.
Tuesday 19 th September
According to the Greenpeace report “Decentralising UK energy”, Decentralised Energy (DE) enables waste heat from combustion processes to be captured and used, and cuts energy costs from the transmission system. DE also requires less backup capacity. Unlike a system consisting of a few large power plants, a system of many small generators cannot suffer a major impact from the failure of a single plant. In the DE scenario, by 2023, 42% of electricity comes from Combined Heat & Power (CHP) and a mere 24% from centralised gas plant, with renewables contributing over 25%, of which half is from large wind farms and the rest from biomass and local renewables. The DE scenario is:
Cleaner, in that CO 2 emissions are 17% lower;
Cheaper, in that overall capital costs are over £1 billion lower – even without the additional cost of managing nuclear waste;
More secure, in that UK gas consumption is 14% lower, reducing dependency on gas imports.
Wednesday 20 th September
Woking Borough Council between 1991 and 2004 cut its CO 2 emissions by 75% as a result of decentralising its energy supplies. In the Netherlands , DE provides over 40% of its energy needs, in Denmark it provides over 50%. A report commissioned by the Mayor of London called “Powering London into the 21 st century” shows how DE could result in the city generating 64% of its own electricity and 43% of its own heat by 2025. Gas consumption would be nearly 15% lower than with a centralised system and CO 2 emissions would be 32% lower than in 2005. Allan Jones, who spearheaded the development of DE in Woking , has been appointed to lead the London Climate Change Agency, which is responsible for designing, financing, building and operating low- and zero-emission developments, including the Thames Gateway and the 2012 Olympics.
Thursday 21 st September
Today is marked throughout the world as Peace Day, when schools and other organisations make a commitment to work for peace. Many schools in Britain will include in their celebrations the song “No Wars Will Stop Us”. Commitments can be emailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org For further information, visit: www.peaceoneday.org
Friday 22 nd September
Today, International Car-Free Day, is the climax of European Mobility Week, when there are widespread debates on ways to change our behaviour in regard to transport – and, in particular, the use of the private car. For further information, visit: www.mobilityweek-europe.org
Saturday 23 rd September
According to the London Assembly's Environment Committee, twenty-two Hyde Parks is the amount of green space lost as a result of people paving over their front gardens. These developments, usually designed to create space for more cars, are bad for wildlife and can cause flooding. When an area is paved or concreted over, rain cannot soak into the ground, so washes off and enters London 's dilapidated sewage system, which is struggling to cope.
Gardens are currently classified as “brownfield sites” in planning legislation, so permission to develop is easily obtained. A Parliamentary Bill to re-classify gardens as “ greenfield sites” is being promoted by Greg Clark MP and others.
Sunday 24 th September
Father God, we thank you for this beautiful world, for the food you provide and the abundance of its store. Help us to look after nature, to watch it and to learn from it. Weed out all in our lives that hinders peace, so that your kingdom may be spread through us and that we may become channels of your peace.
Monday 25 th September
Twenty-five new incinerators are planned across Britain . It is forecast that, by 2025, a quarter of our household waste will be burnt, requiring about 200 additional incinerators. Just one new planned incinerator in East Sussex will cost £125 million to build and will need 200,000 tonnes of waste a year to operate effectively, i.e. half the waste currently produced in East Sussex . In return, it is claimed, the plant will generate enough electricity to power 16,000 homes a year. Yet, as generators of electricity, incinerators produce more CO 2 per unit of energy than a standard coal-fired power station. We have to decide what we want: either “Keep discharging your waste if you want to keep warm this winter” or “Reduce, re-use and recycle – in that order.”
Tuesday 26 th September
The Riding Lights Theatre Company opens its countrywide tour of the UK today at Leeds with its production of “Pipe Dreams”, described as “a seriously funny whodunit about what's happening to our water, unmasking a villain closer to home than we might like to admit.” 2006 is the 25 th anniversary of WaterAid, the charity dedicated to the provision of safe domestic water, sanitation and hygiene education to the poorest people in the world. Fifty-nine churches will host performances between now and December. Each performance will benefit WaterAid. Details of the tour can be viewed on: www.ridinglights.org/shows/pipedrea_001.php
Wednesday 27 th September
A major contribution to the increase in waste output in Britain is the increase in packaging. Roughly half of our household waste is biodegradeable. Potato peelings, orange rind, mouldy bread, cut flowers, egg