“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?
Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?
If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, How much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
“The work of praying is prerequisite to all other work in the kingdom of God , for the simple reason that it is by prayer that we couple the powers of heaven to our own helplessness.”
Wednesday 1 st November
The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh . Thirty years ago Yunus pioneered the idea of microcredit for poorer people who were without access to conventional banks. He argued that, given the right tools and environment, people can dig their way out of poverty. Grameen Telephone has within 10 years enabled 30,000 poor women to sell telephone services in rural areas where there were no fixed telephone lines.
Yunus believes that information technology is changing the world. “The challenge we face is in making sure that poor people share in the benefits of this revolution.” He will use part of the prize money to make low-cost, high-nutrition food available to the poor, and the rest towards setting up an eye hospital for the poor. In its 30-year existence the Bank has lent almost £3 billion to 6.6 million borrowers, 96% of them women. The idea has been copied in over 100 countries and microcredit has reached over 92 million people, of whom 66 million were living below the absolute poverty line of 50 p. a day.
Thursday 2 nd November
Last year's G8 summit and the Commission for Africa have emphasised science and technology as a way of alleviating Africa 's poverty.
David King in “Science” magazine argues that importing Western technology is not a solution unless local people can be trained to use, maintain and distribute it; nor is bringing in Westerners to fill the gap in African science and technology skills. “Africans must develop high-quality scientific and technological skills relevant to their home countries – even a small number can make a difference.
The key is partnerships led by Africans themselves e.g. under the auspices of the African Union.
This should be combined with foreign aid that does not tie African nations to contractors and companies from donor countries, but allows them to follow their own development strategy.”
Friday 3 rd November
According to the New Economics Foundation and Global Footprint Network, humanity went into “resource debt” on 9 th October, having used up more wood, oil, food and water than the earth can replenish this year.
So-called “Overshoot Day” in 1987 was on 19 th December.
Today it is two months earlier.
Andrew Simms, NEF's director, says: “By living so far beyond our environmental means we make two mistakes. First, we deny millions globally who already lack access to sufficient land, food and clean water the chance to meet their needs. Secondly, we put the planet's life support systems in peril.”
Mathis Wackernagel of the Global Footprint Network adds: “Humanity is living off its ecological credit card and can only do this by liquidating the planet's natural resources. This leads to the depletion of resources such as forests, oceans and agricultural land upon which our economy depends. The science of resource depletion is unequivocal. To deliver a sustainable future it is necessary to reduce demand, improve efficiency and switch to renewables.”
Saturday 4 th November
Today the Stop Climate Chaos Rally begins at the US Embassy at 12 noon and continues in Trafalgar Square from 1 till 3. At 11.15 a Worship Service organised by Operation Noah and CEL takes place at Grosvenor Chapel, 24 South Audley Street . At 12.30 a Worship Service organised by Tear Fund takes place in St. Martin-in-the-Fields just off Trafalgar Square . For more information visit the CEL website or www.stopclimatechaos.org
Sunday 5 th November
Father, we pray that you will strengthen our weak wills and our feeble frames, that we may work tirelessly for the fulfilment of your promise of the redemption of all creation from the bondage of corruption, in the Name of your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Monday 6 th November
A report called “Climate Change – the Costs of Inaction”, compiled by leading economists at the US Global Development & Investment Institute of Tufts University, and based on over a hundred economic and scientific papers, estimates that annual economic damage from climate change could reach £11 trillion by 2100.
Action to limit temperature increase to 2oC could avoid £6.4 trillion annual damages at a cost of only £1.6 trillion a year. A 2o rise would lead to widespread drought and water shortages, which hit the poorest countries hardest, a near-total loss of coral reefs of vital importance to fisheries and the tourist industry, and the northward spread and extinction of some arctic species including the polar bear.
A 3o rise would result in decreasing world food supplies, a 6% increase in diarrhoea – a killer in developing countries - , the wholesale collapse of the Amazon ecosystem and the loss of all boreal and arctic ecosystems.
The Director of the Institute, Dr. Frank Ackerman, said: “The climate system has enormous momentum, as does the economic system that emits so much carbon dioxide. Like a supertanker having to turn off its engines 25 km. before it comes to a stop, we have to start turning off greenhouse emissions now in order to avoid catastrophe in decades to come.”
Tuesday 7 th November
At 6.30 pm in St. Paul 's Cathedral there will be a panel discussion on “Does Creating Wealth Cost the Earth?” The panellists include Dr. Richard Chartres, Bishop of London, Sir David King, Chief Government Scientist, Satish Kumar, Editor of “Resurgence”, Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project, and Linda Yueh, Fellow in Economics at Pembroke College Oxford. Entrance is free and seating will be on a first come first served basis.
Wednesday 8 th November
The London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine is running a series of forums on the impact of population growth on the Millennium Development goals. Each forum is chaired by a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development and Reproductive Health with contributions from two distinguished speakers. Yesterday the subject was “Environmental sustainability and population” and the MDG addressed was Goal 7: Environmental sustainability and the targets of increased water security and sustainable development. For details of future events visit: www.populationandsustainability.org
Thursday 9 th November
Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change. The3 Prime Minister has said: “The size of its land mass means that in the middle of the continent, overall rises in temperature will be up to double the global rise, with increased risk of extreme droughts, floods and outbreaks of disease.” That has not stopped Britain missing its own targets for a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. In Latin America , studies in Brazil , Chile , Argentina and Uruguay show falls in yields of barley, grapes, maize, potatoes, soybeans and wheat, potentially linked to global warming. The IPCC has pointed out that the world now has at least 815 million chronically malnourished people, 95% of them in developing countries. How then can the rich world even consider turning over agricultural land to growing biofuels when the need for food has been so starkly shown?
Friday 10 th November
According to the Department of Transport, Britain has only enough available land to provide one-third of its transport fuel from crops by 2050. Just as the Amazonian rainforest has been trashed to grow soybeans for cattle feed, so the demand for biofuels will put new pressures on forests and farmland, just as they are needed to grow more food and to regulate the atmosphere. According to Andrew Simms of NEF: “It's all too easy to foresee owners of 4 x 4s driving with a smugly ethical aura just because they are powered by biofuels, forgetting that the land to grow them was probably switched from growing food, or created by forest clearance.”
Saturday 11 th November
Today the Canterbury Diocesan Synod meets to discuss and approve a draft environmental policy which will ask all members of Anglican communities to consider their personal impact on the environment in their daily lives and to bring about change as a mission imperative. Every church will be asked to undertake an environmental audit, to devise responses to lessen environmental damage and abuse, and to monitor the environmental impact of their policies and plans. Pray for Christian communities everywhere as they consider response to the overwhelming need to heal the world that God created.
Sunday 12 th November
Thank you, Father, for the men and women of determination who have taken the lead in the struggle to protect your creation from exploitation and degradation. Help us in our turn to give of ourselves, not counting the cost, for the sake of your Son who died for us. Amen.
Monday 13 th November
Colin Tudge in “So Shall We Reap” asks what an environmentally-sustainable, climate-friendly, food system, capable of feeding everyone, would actually look like.
Are supermarkets part of it? He believes that, as the global food system is designed to profit multinationals by supplying the whims of wealthy consumers, it will be impossible to design a farming system that is both resilient to climate change and which feeds people in need.
“Supermarkets are playing the international trade game, buying as cheaply as possible, which means they are buying from the people who are most desperate. If you have an agriculture that is designed to feed people, the supermarkets have no role. There is nothing they do that could not be done by smaller companies. Climate change, rising fuel prices, the need for hungry people to be able to feed themselves, not to mention the backlash against clone towns, impersonal big businesses, and a new, popular desire for real, local food . . . suddenly supermarkets are looking very out-of-place in the modern world.”
Tuesday 14 th November
Oxford University 's Environmental Change Institute has published a report on aviation commissioned by the Government-funded UK Energy Research Centre. Although aviation accounts for only 5.5% of the UK 's greenhouse gas emissions, it is the fastest growing source of emissions and Government policy accepts that air passenger movements will double by 2030, in line with airport expansion. According to the report: “The Government has to confront the contradictions in its policies. Unless the rate of growth in flights is curbed, the UK cannot fulfil its commitments on climate change. If Government wants to be confident about achieving its targets, it has to undertake demand management. Relying on technological fixes alone is totally unrealistic.” The report disputes the claim that cheap flights make foreign travel more accessible to lower social classes. “The growth in air travel is not due to more people flying, but to the same people flying more often.” One of the authors, Carey Newson, said: “Opinion polls should encourage the Government to revisit its aviation policy. A majority now favour airlines paying higher taxes to reflect environmental damage, even if this means higher air fares. Curbing the growth in flights would not necessarily hurt the UK economy since other sectors, such as the domestic tourism industry, could benefit.”
Wednesday 15 th November
On 24 th September, 21 activists from Plane Stupid chained themselves to each other on the taxiway at the East Midlands Airport , saying they wanted to see airport expansion plans scrapped, a tax on aviation and air tickets introduced, and an end to short-haul flights. A Baptist minister led a service on the tarmac to remember the 160,000 people who die every year from climate change. The protestors were arrested, charged with aggravated trespass, causing a public nuisance and entering a restricted zone without permission. They were bailed to appear before Loughborough magistrates for committal to the Crown Court. The Rev. Malcolm Carroll said during the service: “Tony Blair has known for years that climate change presents the biggest danger to life on earth, so why doesn't he do the Christian thing and ban unnecessary and unsustainable short-haul flights?”
Thursday 16 th November
The EU repeated its support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) when its Energy Commissioner visited a clean coal plant in Italy which was formerly a fuel oil plant. EU officials called for coal-fired power stations to anticipate the arrival of CCS technology and be built as ‘capture-ready', allowing for retrofitting. Yet CCS remains controversial as experts continue to question the length of time carbon can stay buried before escaping back into the atmosphere. The solution has also been criticised as unsustainable due to the limited amount of storage space. The longer humanity tries to wriggle out of the necessity of reducing carbon emissions, the more painful will be the final adjustment.
Friday 17 th November
DEFRA adviser Melville Haggard has told waste experts that Energy from Waste (EfW) must play a greater role in UK waste strategy if we are to cope with increasing arisings and shrinking landfill space, in order to meet our EU targets. Currently only 9% of municipal solid waste is disposed of by EfW. He expects that to rise to 27% by 2020. Reuse, recycling and composting would still be preferred options, and decisions on EfW were best made at local level. DEFRA could advise on planning issues and give technical support. Authorities should not wait for a PFI contract, but explore other ways to finance EfW development. “There's a danger that the best could be the enemy of the good as we try to work out what we should be doing. There's a good case for doing something rather than risk waiting for the perfect solution, then missing our targets.” Germany and the Netherlands had shown high levels of recycling were not undermined by extensive use of EfW facilities. Curiously, he made no mention of excessive packaging as a contributory factor to the mountain of waste now awaiting disposal.
Saturday 18 th November
Paul Dumble, waste co-ordinator at Transport for London , told experts at a conference that, as traffic congestion and fuel costs rise, transporting London 's waste by barge makes better economic and environmental sense. Waste re[resents about 8% of freight transport in London and makes a big contribution to climate change. Trials are taking place for transporting waste in removable boxes which can be loaded on to barges to reduce the number of journeys to processing facilities. Large capital expenditure would be needed to renovate the canals, but the payback would only be 4/5 years. The canal network was ideally placed to bring materials into the Olympic site and to take waste aggregates out.
Meanwhile, British Waterways have announced plans to cut 180 staff. The budget for Britain 's 2,200 miles of waterways is to be cut by £7 million over five years. This would mean that maintenance would be frozen, new developments put on hold and higher fees exacted for using the canals. It is reported that the cuts were made because the EU imposed a £200 million fine for DEFRA's incompetence over farmers' payments earlier this year.
Sunday 19 th November
Lord, wake us by your calling;
Lead us to your light;
Feed us with your love;
And speed us on your service, this day and for ever.
Monday 20 th November
The Royal Mail places a limit of three unaddressed items per week to be delivered to each household or business. Last year it delivered 3.3 billion items of unaddressed mail – an increase of 12.5% on the previous year. Now it has announced plans to scrap all limits despite protests from the Local Authorities Association. It costs LAs £2.6 billion a year to collect and dispose of waste. The Royal Mail's decision could add considerably to the 78,000 tonnes of junk mail that end up in landfill each year. In a letter to the Royal Mail, LGA chairman Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said: “I am concerned that the expansion in junk mail will lead to an increase in the amount of paper that is either thrown into landfill or has to be collected in recycling bins. This comes at a time when councils are trying to minimise waste and increase recycling. Every extra tonne of rubbish that goes into landfill costs the taxpayer an extra £100. More junk mail for services people neither want nor need will only lead to an increase in the amount of unnecessary rubbish created and could place further pressure on the council taxpayer through no fault of either the council or local people.”
Tuesday 21 st November
The Institute for Civil Engineers in its annual report points to effluent re-use as “the radical solution to combat Britain 's long-term water crisis.” Essex and Suffolk Water have been re-using treated sewage since 2003. The ‘effluent recycling' process involves clarifying, filtering and disinfecting sewage with UV light before discharging it into rivers and, after further purification, re-using it as drinking water. The result is clean water, but the process has been raising controversy in parts of the world, including Australia . The Consumer Council for Water said that suppliers should focus on fixing leaking pipes before resorting to water recycling. The Institute also proposes compulsory water-metering for water-scarce areas like the South East. Their chairman, John Lawson, said: “Water consumer prices will have to rise to pay for new infrastructure. We currently pay less for our water than many of our European neighbours – something that will have to change to keep our taps from running dry. The UK must invest in new water resources to ensure a constant supply.
Wednesday 22 nd November
A poll by ICM of 5,000 people in Britain , France , Germany , Spain and Italy reveals that British people waste more energy than the other nations, so hastening climate change and adding £2.5 billion to annual fuel bills. Germans admitted to 14 energy-wasting habits, Spaniards 15, French 19, Italians 25, but Britons admitted to 32 bad habits including leaving lights on in empty rooms. 71% of us admitted to rarely, if ever, switching of TV sets, DVD players and computers. Philip Sellwood of the Energy Saving Trust said that 40% of people appeared to be resistant to energy efficiency. “We, in the past five years, have been living with cheap energy . . Now, with energy bills approaching £1,000, if you can reduce your bills by £300 through a few no-cost simple measures, then that is something I think even the relatively well-off will pay attention to.”
Thursday 23 rd November
Changestar, a think tank, has published a report asking “Why is it so hard to change people's behaviour?” It identifies three barriers to behavioural change: 1) the complexity of the modern world, 2) our expanded ‘moral radius' as individuals (presumably meaning increased self-centredness ed.) and 3) the profound influence of the global economic orthodoxy and its cultural spinoffs, such as consumerism, on our mental worldview. The report's response to these barriers is “to equip the public with the intellectual skills, values awareness and socio-political conditions that will enable them to become well-informed, intellectually independent and ethical global citizens.” Others might suggest that we need modern prophets to spell out exactly where our destructive attitudes and behaviour are leading us and to keep repeating the message until events force their attention on a public habituated to denial.
Friday 24 th November
Environment Minister Ian Pearson recently told the UK Business Council for Sustainable Energy that buying a wind turbine should be as easy as buying a sofa. Installing solar panels will save home-owners money in the long term, but the original outlay is prohibitive for many and off-putting even for the wealthy. “Energy companies, high street banks and consumer finance companies should develop low-cost finance schemes to help boost the take-up of household microgeneration. Everywhere you look there are advertisements for sofas, electric goods and kitchens – all offering interest-free credit or easy long-term loans. Yet there are no such offers for microgeneration. Why?”
Saturday 25 th November
Hydrogen fuel cell buses are already serving some London bus routes as part of a successful trial in six cities across Europe and Canada . Most hydrogen is still produced from fossil fuel sources. Now a new study suggests that hydrogen for fuel cells can be completely carbon-neutral by using energy from London 's waste. Deputy Mayor Nicky Gavron said: “We are already working to introduce 70 hydrogen vehicles to London . We cannot continue to throw our rubbish into vast landfill sites which are responsible for 20% of UK emissions of the harmful greenhouse gas, methane. In London we have a growing amount of waste and, if we can produce renewable hydrogen from this, it will play a large part in cutting harmful emissions and managing our rubbish in a sustainable way.”
Sunday 26 th November
Give us, loving Father, a deeper understanding of your purposes, that we may be steadfast amid the turmoil of our times. May our faith never fail, nor our love grow cold, nor our hope become faint. May we look up and lift up our heads as we look for the promised redemption of your world through Jesus Christ our Saviour and Redeemer. Amen.
Monday 27 th November
British Nuclear Group (BNG) who operate the THORP nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield were fined £2 million for a leak of 80,000 tonnes of acid contaminated with 20 tonnes of uranium and 160 kg. of plutonium which escaped from a broken pipe in April 2005. Now Carlisle Crown Court has imposed a further fine of £500,000 because it took 8 months to detect the leak and an investigation criticised Sellafield's safety procedures and accused it of a “new plant culture”, meaning a careless attitude based on the assumption that in a new plant nothing can go wrong. The Irish Environment Minister, Dick Roche, commented: “The level of this fine goes some way towards reflecting the serious issues which resulted in the leak of this large volume of toxic material. However, it give no comfort that the poor safety culture identified can, or will, be tackled by the UK authorities. We have been here before. This leak provides further evidence, if such were needed, that the UK authorities should make the current shutdown of the THORP plant a permanent feature.”
Tuesday 28 th November
As part of the autumn programme of Population Forums, discussing the impact of population growth on the Millennium Development Goals, a meeting takes place at 6 pm today at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, Thornhaugh Street , London , to examine current barriers to the implementation of population policies relevant to the attainment of the MDGs. For more information, contact Catherine Budgett-Meakin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.populationandsustainability.org
Friday 29 th November
Ugandan mothers have an average of seven children and one of the world's highest population growth rates. More than a third use no contraception. Now a US-funded initiative, which has hitherto shied away from providing condoms, is to give Ugandan women necklaces of 32 coloured beads to help prevent unwanted pregnancies. A single red bead marks the first day of a woman's period, a run of brown beads illustrates the days she is least likely to conceive and 12 light-coloured beads correspond to her time of highest fertility, The project was launched by Janet Museveni, the wife of the President. The MoonBeads necklace was designed at Georgetown University , Washington , to assist childless women trying to judge when they are most likely to fall pregnant. For more information, visit the website of USAID..
Saturday 30 th November
The RSPB has published a report on the impact of nutrient pollution on wildlife. It warns that we are altering the fertility of the countryside by allowing huge amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus to enter the environment. “Certain species out-compete lots of others, so you end up with less species, less biodiversity and completely altered habitats.” “Farmers have done a great deal lately to protect soil, water and wildlife and we want to see them further reduce the impact of fertiliser run-off.” “Damaging pollution of the countryside will continue unless action is taken to reduce the amount of inorganic nutrients reaching the environment. Knowledge and technologies exist to improve nutrient management. The Government needs to develop policies to put these skills into practice, including better regulation, incentives and advice.”
A POEM: Plastic is drastic
Plastic bags, plastic bags, we find them everywhere:
Bobbing round like broken kites high in the air;
Blown into our hedgerows, impaled upon our trees;
Drifting round deserted towns in ghostly twos or threes;
From rivers and from oceans they're washed upon the shore
Affecting fish and wildlife - yet still we ask for more.
They're free and they're convenient to carry shopping home
So who would want to make the change to leave the comfort zone?
But why must we use so many when we shop?
We've got to make those killer greenhouse gases drop.
Plastic is drastic; it doesn't biodegrade.
Fabric is fantastic - and it's easily made.
Seventeen billion plastic bags; our usage in ONE year
And who will pay? The children of the future - that is clear.
So come on shopper! Just try saying "NO" when at the till
"I've brought my eco-friendly bags, so how much off the bill?”
Gill McDonnell - May 2006
Ecologist;: www.edie.net ; www.scidev.net
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