“Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Mt. 6.20-21)
“Keep yourselves from idols.” (1 John 2.21)
“An idol is an expression of a universal tendency – to substitute something in the place of God. You don't need to reject God openly to be an idolater; you become one simply when you put someone other than God at the centre and thus marginalize Him. If He is not at the centre, then He no longer controls ones life;
He just faintly influences it.” (Selwyn Hughes)
Sunday 1 st October.
Father God, please teach us how to live more simply, to be more sensitive towards your creation and to care for all the life that you have created. Help us to turn from our arrogant ways. Redeem us, redeem your world, heal its wounds and dry its tears, for the sake of you dear Son who died for your world.
Monday 2 nd October.
Throughout this month and next the Riding Lights Theatre Company will be touring Britain with its presentations of “Pipe Dreams” in aid of WaterAid, the charity dedicated to providing safe water, sanitation and hygiene education to the poorest people in the world. Pray for strong support from local churches, big audiences and safe journeys between venues. For details of dates and venues, visit: www.ridinglights.org or ring 01904 655317 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 3 rd October.
The Russian Government has cancelled its environmental permit for the $20 billion oil and gas project known as Sakhalin II, in which Shell has a 55% stake with Mitsubishi and Mitsui having smaller stakes. Both the European Bank of Reconstruction & Development and the UK Export Credit Guarantee Department are considering whether to lend money to the project despite the risks of earthquakes, landslides and oil spills associated with the 800 km. of pipelines which cross over a thousand watercourses on Sakhalin Island . The small Gray Whale population is particularly at risk from the project. Some commentators believe the Russian government is raising the stakes in order to secure better terms than those agreed by President Yeltsin in 1993. The project is already 80% complete.
Wednesday 4 th October.
A day conference of the British & Irish Association for Mission Studies (BIAMS) takes place today on “Christian Mission and Environmental Justice” at the Missionary Institute, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 4HY. The speakers include Kwame Labi of the World Council of Churches, Dave Bookless of A Rocha, Philip Knights of the Catholic Agency to Support Evangelisation and Celia Deane-Drummond of the Centre for Religion & Biosciences at Chester . Under the title “The Land is mine, says the Lord” the conference will examine the realities of environmental pressures through the interpretative lens of Christian thinking and action worldwide. Right relationships with God insist upon right relationships with our neighbours and our environment. For more information, contact the BIAMS office (see above address) or visit: www.martynmission.cam.ac.uk
Thursday 5 th October.
Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, speaking at the Climate Clinic, a global warming conference within each of the three main political party conferences, reported new evidence of the speed of ice loss from Greenland and the West Antarctic. 210 cubic kilometres a year are being lost from both regions, while 87% of glaciers on the Antarctic Peninsula are in retreat. Historical evidence pointed to a potential rise of 5 metres in mean sea levels. Even if CO 2 levels are successfully stabilised, sea levels will continue to rise as a result of greenhouse gases already emitted, leaving a legacy to future generations. “Politicians must respond to the urgency of the issue. Current international political action on curbing greenhouse gas emissions is inadequate.”
Friday 6 th October.
According to the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, China is likely to be the world's largest single contributor of greenhouse gases by 2025. As a developing nation, it is not bound by the Kyoto Protocol, though it is active in supporting the Clean Development Mechanism which helps developing countries run projects to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. China's main concerns are:
Security of energy supplies to sustain its booming economy and meet the consumption demands of its urban population;
Bringing its acute water, air and land pollution problems under control.
While it shows little enthusiasm for curbing its own greenhouse gas emissions, it sees a more promising future in energy efficiency, renewables and carbon capture and sequestration.
Saturday 7 th October.
A NASA satellite monitoring study has found that in 2005 alone the Arctic ice shelf lost 14% of its permanent cover – much more than the total losses over the whole of the last 30 years – an area the size of Turkey. Another NASA study has detected a sudden acceleration in winter melting rates of sea ice over the last two years. “The Arctic is warming about twice as fast as the global average. The disappearance of sea ice could be disastrous for polar bears, which are dependent on sea ice as a seal-hunting ground. The seasonal ice regions in the Arctic are some of the most biologically productive regions in the world. Sea ice provides melt-water in spring that floats because of low density. This layer is considered by biologists as the ideal layer for phytoplankton growth because it does not sink and there is plenty of sunlight reaching it to enable photosynthesis. If their concentration goes down, animals at all levels would be deprived of a basic source of food.
Sunday 8 th October.
We cry to you, Lord, protect your creation, defend the work of your hands.
Save our generation from our addiction to fossil fuels.
Wash our hands of their clutch on dirty energy.
Clean our hearts of our desire for more and more.
Turn our souls away from materialism and our desires from taking and taking from your sacred but finite world.
Give us a vision of the blessings we will receive if we turn away from idolatry of the economy and bow to wisdom and truth.
Let man and womankind see that true happiness rests in enjoying your earth as you intended, not according to the lies of the enemy.
Show us that a kinder and simpler lifestyle will allow us to see your glory more clearly. Let your glory shine through your kingdom.(Prayers of Hope – Ruth Jarman)
Monday 9 th October.
Since early August flood waters have swept across previously parched earth in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia and Sudan, killing almost 1,000 people and displacing 120,000. Medicins sans Frontieres reports that dams and levees could soon give way, while government offices in Khartoum are threatened with flooding. Flooding has also affected 30,000 people in Niger and 20,000 in Burkina Faso. Overflowing rivers lead to the spread of cholera and malaria by contaminating drinking water and providing a breeding ground for malarial mosquitoes. Pray for Africa.
Tuesday 10 th October.
DDT is toxic to birds, fish and mammals. It accumulates in the food chain and remains in the environment for many years. The World Health Organisation has now reversed its 30-year old ban on its use for malaria control and is putting annual indoor spraying of DDT alongside drugs and bednets as one of its three tools for controlling the disease. WHO explained: “Indoor spraying has proved just as cost-effective as other malaria prevention methods and DDT presents no health risk when used properly.” Tanzania and Uganda have already relaxed their bans on DDT. But Paul Suoke, director of Physicians for Social Responsibility in Kenya, has commented: “DDT is a short-sighted response with long-term consequences and WHO should be helping countries to fight malaria with safer and more effective alternatives.” Last year the US President's Malaria Initiative committed some of its $1.2 billion budget to funding the use of DDT.
Wednesday 11 th October.
GM-contaminated rice has been found in two types of rice sold by the supermarket chain Morisons. FoE is mounting a legal challenge to the Food Standards Agency for its failure to prevent illegal GM rice being sold to the public. FoE comments: “GM rice has not been approved for human consumption in Europe, so it is illegal to sell it. This discovery is unlikely to be an isolated incident. Retailers must ensure that their food is free from unauthorised GM material and remove contaminated products from their shelves. This latest incident highlights the risks associated with GM technology and exposes biotech companies' failure to control their products. The Government must draw up tough rules to prevent any contamination before it even considers allowing GM crops to be grown here. The best way to protect our food, farming and environment from GM pollution is to keep Britain GM-free.”
Thursday 12 th October.
Britain is the world's biggest importer of wines, buying in over a million litres a year, mostly in bottles weighing 500 grams each. The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) and British Glass are encouraging importers, producers and retailers to ship wine to the UK in bulk and then bottle it domestically using lightweight 300 gram bottles. This could save around 20,000 tonnes of glass a year, as well as saving 40% of shipping costs and associated fuel consumption. Asda and Tesco have agreed to take part in commercial trials. WRAP comments: “Despite concerns that some overseas suppliers may have, the UK bottling industry has plenty of capacity to both produce and fill bottles. Our research shows that an additional 10% switch will mean 55,000 tonnes less glass imported and a rise in demand for recycled green glass of 50,000 tonnes – a combined improvement of 105,000 tonnes a year. As well as tonnage benefits, this move will improve the industry's carbon emissions profile, while at the same time reducing business costs.”
Friday 13 th October.
According to a report from the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) entitled “Every Drop Counts”, water suppliers are spending an average of 11 p. per customer per year on preventing water going to waste. IPPR recommends a Water Efficiency Commitment set, not in terms of water saved, but based on the water-saving measures that each company implements, so putting responsibility for water saving on the customers. Residents of England and Wales use 150 litres of water daily – well above the 127 litres used by German and Danish consumers. A Water Efficiency Commitment would incentivise water companies to help customers instal water-saving toilets, taps and showerheads as well as rainwater harvesting systems. The report recommends compulsory water meters, but only for “water-stressed areas”. Only 28% of homes are currently metered, though 70% of customers actually pay less when metered. OFWAT figures show that most water companies are currently meeting their targets for dealing with leakages. “By encouraging domestic water efficiency with water-saving incentives and compulsory water metering, companies can share more of that responsibility with customers.”
Saturday 14 th October.
Today a conference on The Future of Food takes places at various venues in Grassington near Shipton. Organised by the Craven Development Education Centre, Christian Aid, Christians Aware and CAFOD, it is designed to highlight issues of production, distribution and fairness. Speakers include Patrick Mulvaney, chair of the UK Food Group and Senior Adviser to Practical Action (formerly ITDG), David Curry MP, former Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries & Food, Howard Petch of the Countryside Commission and Jan Simmonds of Christian Aid and Traidcraft. Fee: £6. For more information ring John Gore on 01756-792297 or email: email@example.com or write to him at: 3 Navigation Square, Skipton BD23 1XB.
Sunday 15 th October.
God our creator, whose good earth is entrusted to our care and delight and tenderness, we pray:
For all who are in captivity to debt, whose lives are cramped by fear
From which there is no turning except through abundant harvest;
For all who depend on the earth for their daily food and fuel,
Whose forests are destroyed for the profit of a few;
For all who labour in poverty, who are oppressed by unjust laws,
Who are banned from speaking the truth, who long for a harvest of justice;
For all who are in captivity to greed and waste and boredom,
Whose harvest joy is choked with things they do not need.
Turn us again from our captivity and restore our vision, that our mouth may be filled with laughter and our tongue with singing. (Janet Morley)
Monday 16 th October.
In a report called “Climate Change: The Role of Bio-energy” the Parliamentary Environment, Food & Rural Affairs Committee (Efracom) says that the Government, by focussing on biofuels for transport and electricity, is not giving bio-energy a chance to fulfil its potential for heat generation and for clean aircraft fuel in the form of synthetic kerosene made from biomass.
However, Efracom acknowledged that the development of biofuels is limited in Britain by land availability and possible negative effects on biodiversity and food production.
Tuesday 17 th October.
When the new Wilton 10 power station opens next year on Teesside, it will be the first major generating plant to run entirely on biomass. Recycled timber, sawmill chips, coppiced willow and small roundwood will give a generating capacity of 30 MW – enough to provide electricity for 30,000 homes. More than half Britain's 18 coal-burning power stations now use biomass as a small proportion of their fuel mix. Only 2.5% of the output of the massive Drax power station is currently provided by a mix of olive cake, willow and wood pulp, but plans are afoot to boost this figure to 20% by 2015. For more information, visit: www.sembutilities.co.uk
Wednesday 18 th October.
Peter Malaise of Ecover notes that a pot of yoghurt can rack up some 5,600 food miles before reaching our plates. “All over the world this frenzy of transport keeps on increasing. With just half the world's population travelling around in cars, never mind the space taken up by lorries, there'll probably be no room left to grow plants to fuel it all. Not, that is, if we want to feed the six billion too. And we also need plants to supply the biomass for just about everything else – medicine, cosmetics, clothing, detergents, furniture, housing, paints, vehicles, plastics, paper . . . The future can't just be the same, but substituting plant-based oil for fossil oil and carrying on depleting it. We need to reconsider completely the way we do things . . .
We have made tremendous progress in structural chemistry, in synthesising molecules, in process control, in energy saving and in the quality and yield of that process. We have to take it one step further: we must organise things in such a way that we use everything to the last fibre.
When orange juice is produced, 90% of the orange is left as waste . But there is really no such thing. I could make a two-page list of all the things that could be made with orange waste as raw material, leaving nothing but a small compost heap for your garden.”
Thursday 19 th October.
“More or Less? The Search for Sustainable Living” is the title of a St. Paul's Cathedral event this evening at 6.30 when Jeffrey Sachs, adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, and Nicholas Sagovsky, Professor of Theology and Public Life at Liverpool Hope University and Canon Theologian at Westminster Abbey, will discuss these questions:
How can the world develop in ways that are both sustainable and just?
Is sustainability necessary for reducing global poverty?
What does theology have to say about sustainability?
Admission is free. Seating is on a first come, first served basis.
Friday 20 th October.
The Sheringham Shoal offshore wind farm came a step nearer realisation at a public meeting in June. Between 45 and 108 wind turbines, each 175 m. high, would be built at least 9 miles offshore. The 315 MW project would produce enough electricity to supply up to 178,000 homes. Scia Offshore Energy, the scheme's promoter, is jointly owned by Hydro of Norway, Econcern of the Netherlands and SLP Energy of Britain. An environmental impact assessment has found little or no impact on fish, marine mammals, birdlife or ecology. However, at a cost of £530 million, it would be twice as expensive as a comparable onshore wind farm.
Saturday 21 st October.
The Regional Development Agency in the South West is proposing to build Britain's first offshore facility for demonstrating and testing wave power generators. Testers will be able to run devices over several years and connect them to the National Grid. So far, ORECon of Plymouth and Ocean Power Delivery of Edinburgh are developing wave energy devices for testing at the facility and other organisations are interested. For more information, contact Nick Harrington, Operations Manager at the South West Regional Development Agency, North Quay House, Sutton Harbour, Plymouth PL4 0RA.
Sunday 22 nd October.
Eternal God and Father, you alone are the source of all truth and understanding. Direct by your Holy Spirit those engaged in scientific research into all the ways of protecting your fragile world from decay and corruption, so that, as they uncover more of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, they may further your deep purposes of love.
Bless the partnership between religion and science, that both may serve your will in promoting the welfare of humankind and in reconciling the whole world to you, its Maker and Redeemer. (Tom Torrance – adapted)
Monday 23 rd October.
Last June, all Chinese civil servants were told they must either cycle to work or take public transport. Yet, according to Jonathon Porritt, things are going to get worse in China before they get much better. In Beijing alone, more than 1,000 new cars a day are rolled out on to its congested streets. China is building a new coal-fired power station every ten days. Last year it added 65,000 MW. of new power generation – equal to the entire UK power capacity. The Chinese are some of the most inefficient energy users in the world. Greenhouse gas emissions per unit of GDP are 10 times more than the average of developed countries. Yet its targets for the next 5 years include a 20% fall in energy consumption per unit of GDP, a 30% reduction in water use and a 10% fall in total pollutants. According to Pan Yue, China's deputy environment minister, “China's economic miracle will end soon because the environment can no longer keep pace.” The question is: Will the environment suffer irreparable damage before China calls a halt to its economic development?
Tuesday 24 th October.
According to the Worldwatch Institute's State of the World 2006 report, “The biggest energy questions facing China and India are how much higher their coal use will go, and what other energy sources they will use to power their futures. “Their answers will have a big impact on the quality of life in those countries, but since they will almost certainly be the world's two biggest markets for new energy technologies, their decisions will help set the 21 st -century energy course for the world as a whole.”
Wednesday 25 th October.
China's notorious “single child” policy has prevented over 400 million births. The average birth rate is now 1.8 children per couple as compared with 6 per couple before the policy was introduced. Nevertheless, according to Zhaio Baige, vice-minister of the National Population & Family Planning Commission, “the basic fact is that we have over 1.3 billion people in China (increasing to 1.5 billion by 2035) accounting for over 22% of the world's population, while we have only 7% of the world's arable land.” As to population policy, she says: “We are introducing a system in the countryside to encourage people to obey the family policy plan, granting economic rewards rather than punishing people who break the rules.” It combines free contraception services for rural women, with sensitive local economic assistance, such as micro-loans for communities in the remote countryside, which can help them stay on their land and make a living from it. But she admits there are difficulties. “How should we promote proper contraception without offending women's rights? That will be a great challenge to our work.” “Ultimately” she says “the solution to China's environmental problem is closely linked to its population situation. We realise that China's population and environmental concerns are the world's concerns, and we are willing to take responsibility and share our experience of solving the problems with the rest of the world.”
Thursday 26 th October.
With 22% of the world's population but just 8% of its freshwater, China is the thirstiest nation on earth. Of China's 660 cities, 130 face severe water shortages, while significant groundwater pollution affects half of them. The National Development & Reform Commission has promised sewage treatment work on an unprecedented scale, amounting to 1.5% of GDP for the next five years. Yet water supply problems remain. Farmers now require permits to abstract from rivers, lakes and underground supplies, while more efficient irrigation methods are brought in to replace the wasteful flood irrigation system which prevails. But the massive South-North Water Diversion Project will, by 2050, bring 45 billion cubic metres of water a year from the plentiful Yangtse river system to the parched North. But Ma Jun, author of “China's Water Crisis”, has likened the project to “a cup of water to put out a bonfire – not enough to quench the thirst” and sees water shortage as such a potent time bomb that cities around Beijing and Tianjin will have no water left in just 5-7 years.
Yet out of adversity innovative solutions are often found. Meeting China's water challenge will require all the ingenuity, resilience, traditional wisdom, technological expertise and sheer hard work that can be mustered – and the whole world could be the beneficiaries.
Friday 27 th October.
Nottingham University is setting up an Institute of Sustainable Development on its campus at Ningpo nears Shanghai. It will sit alongside a new Centre for Sustainable Energy headed by Professor Saffa Riffat who specialises in innovative technologies for sustainable building.
Now, thanks to a new website ( www.chinadialogue.net ) it's possible for English and Chinese speakers to debate environmental issues without needing to know each others' language; to discover each others' points of view; and to share ideas, argue and explore solutions together.
Saturday 28 th October.
A conference on “Energy: Crisis or Opportunity” takes place today at the Christian Education Centre, 4 Southgate Drive, Crawley RH10 6RP. The speakers include Diana Schumacher, a founder member of the Schumacher Society and of the Churches' Energy Group, and a speaker from the Energy Centre for Sustainable Communities who will speak on micro-generation and emerging renewable energy technology. The conference is organised by the Diocese of Chichester, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Arundel and Brighton and Christian Ecology Link. The cost: £3. Concessions: £1.50. Bring lunch. For booking details, contact: Helen Swyer, Church House, 211 New Church Road, Hove BN3 4ED. Tel. 01273 421001 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 29 th October.
Father, as we read and see daily in our newspapers and television programmes the devastation caused by the selfish promotion of political and economic ideologies, we pray earnestly for a change of heart among the nations and for a massive diversion of human resources towards the relief of human suffering and the restoration of your world.
Monday 30 th October.
The Prime Minister of the Ivory Coast has sacked his entire cabinet after tens of thousands of people in the capital, Abidjan, required hospital treatment, seven of whom died, after exposure to highly toxic hydrogen sulphide which was dumped at sites around the city, including sewer systems and the lagoon inside the city itself. Hospital treatment was required for intestinal and respiratory problems as well as nose bleeds, nausea and vomiting. The shipment came on a Dutch ship registered in Panama, but Greenpeace believes the ship left Spain several months ago looking for a suitable site on the West African coast to dump its toxic cargo. Under the Basel Convention – designed to prevent the developing world becoming the dumping ground for industrialised nations – toxic waste is the responsibility of the country of origin. The Prime Minister of Ivory Coast has openly admitted that his country lacks both the necessary resources and knowledge to clean up the waste.
Tuesday 31 st October.
An environmental committee of the Indian Government has found that 16% of shipyard workers employed in ship-breaking suffer from asbestosis, an incurable disease which causes respiratory debilitation and failure and can lead to lung cancer. While debate persists as to whether ships count as “toxic waste” under the Basel Convention, the West continues to export end-of-life ships, often contaminated with asbestos, to poor countries to be dismantled. An NGO network which includes Greenpeace is pressing for the SS Norway, now lying on a beach in Alang, India, to be sent back to Europe. It is estimated to contain 1,200 tonnes of asbestos. “Any authorisation to break the SS Norway or any other toxic ship is tantamount to the state authorising murder”, said Gopal Krishna of India's Ban Asbestos Network.
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