“Do not worry, saying: ‘What shall we eat?' or ‘What shall we drink?' or ‘What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
“God has not given us a sense of beauty, an enjoyment of food and wine, an ear for music, in order to tempt and test us. But . . . we must not put our trust in them, or regard them as the purpose of our lives. Our freedom from such a dependence is a mark of our conversion.” (Barbara Wood)
Monday 1 st January
The Stern Report, for the first time, costed the damages resulting from climate change and the costs of mitigation. To stabilise CO 2 emissions at 450 ppm would cost the world 3% of its GDP. To stabilise them at 550 ppm would cost 1% of GDP. “Stabilisation at 450 ppm”, Stern says, “ is already almost out of reach, given that we are likely to reach this level within 10 years and there are difficulties in making the sharp reductions required by current and foreseeable technologies. Costs rise significantly as mitigation efforts become more ambitious or sudden.” Yet eleven scientific studies have shown that, if emissions are stabilised at 450 ppm, the probability of exceeding a 2 o C. rise in global temperatures is 26-78%. If they are stabilised at 550 ppm, the probability rises to 63-99%. Stern opts for stabilisation between 500 and 550 ppm because it is politically and economically feasible. His conclusion amounts to this:
We can't afford “business as usual” because the cost of letting the environment collapse would be too great;
We can't afford to stabilise at 450 ppm because it would cost us 3% of GDP;
Therefore the safest option – for our economy – is to stabilise at 500-550 ppm as it would only cost us 1% of GDP. It would also lead to the flooding of Bangladesh, the Netherlands and coastal regions of China, increased droughts in Africa and Asia, and 200 million migrants on the march, forced out by higher temperatures and meeting with resistance wherever they tried to settle.
Stern rightly described climate change as “the greatest market failure ever seen”. He also demonstrated the utter perversity of the economic mindset which has brought us to this pass.
Tuesday 2 nd January
Since publication of the Stern Review, the Hadley Centre at the Met Office has updated its projections for temperature rises up to 2100. Our climate has already warmed to 0.7 0 C. above pre-industrial levels and we see polar ice caps melting, more frequent heatwaves, droughts, flooding and coral reefs wilting. Here are some extracts:
By 2030, parts of Africa and southern Europe reach at least 3 0 above pre-industrial levels. By 2060, parts of Siberia and South Africa reach 7 0 above pre-industrial temperatures. By 2100, average surface temperatures over Africa , South America , parts of the USA , Europe and Asia will have risen by a massive 10 0 C. compared to the early 20 th century. Climatologists had already warned that a rise of 2-3 0 C. in average global temperatures would cause major losses in agricultural productivity that would wipe out the world's grain reserves, the loss of whole ecosystems including the Amazon rainforests and most coral reefs. Three months ago the Tyndall Centre reported that a 90% cut in emissions was needed by 2050 rather than the 60% advocated by Stern.
Wednesday 3 rd January
What can be done? According to Stern, in order to achieve a 70% reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, after a peak within 10 years, there would need to be a fall of more than 5% a year. But if the world's people are to be entitled to an equal emissions quota (as with the Contraction and Convergence model), this would require a cut of 87% for UK citizens. How else can millions of people in China and India be persuaded to accept a limit to their expectations of a better life unless the principle of equal rights for every world citizen be accepted everywhere?
Thursday 4 th January
According to the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation, the livestock industry generates 18% more greenhouse gases than transport. Besides generating 9% of human-related CO 2 emissions, it generates 65% of human-related nitrous oxide emissions which have 296 times the global warming effect of CO 2 . Most of this comes from manure. Livestock also produces 37% of human-related methane, which has 23 times the global warming effect of CO 2 . Proposed remedies include:
Improving animals' diets to reduce enteric fermentation and consequent methane emissions;
Setting up biogas plants to recycle manure;
Introducing full-cost pricing for water.
A simple solution might be to eat less meat – ed.
Friday 5 th January
According to the National Institute for Research at Manaus , Brazil , a hydroelectric dam in the tropics can, in its first 10 years, release four times as much greenhouse gas as a comparable fossil-fuel power station. Dams release methane from rotting organic matter in the land flooded. The problem, confined to the tropics, results from the abrupt pressure change that water goes through as it rises from lower layers, causing massive methane releases. If the findings are confirmed, estimates of global methane emissions would have to be revised upwards by 20%.
Saturday 6 th January
In 2001, the Prime Minister pledged that the Government would only purchase timber legally and sustainably sourced. Greenpeace has recently discovered 2 tonnes of plywood from threatened bitangor wood from Papua New Guinea being used in the Palace of Westminster . This was the 4 th time in four years that illegal rainforest timber has been discovered in Government buildings. Weak guidelines and inadequate implementation have made Tony Blair's undertaking worthless. Now Greenpeace has called on the Government to ensure, in line with its stated policy, that all timber used in its projects comes from accredited sources, and to ban all imports of illegal timber into the UK . These repeated incidents call into question the Government's commitment to protecting the rainforests which are so vital in the fight against climate change.
Sunday 7 th January
Forgive us, Lord, that we have consistently valued profit more than the world that you created and now sustain for all your creatures. Help us to do all in our power to repair the damage we have done, and to proclaim, in season and out, that the only way we can save your world for future generations is to stop worshipping mammon, and to return to worship you, the only true God.
Monday 8 th January
Twice since August, haze from forest fires in the threatened rainforests of Indonesia has cloaked Singapore , Malaysia and parts of Indonesia , severely affecting air quality and reducing visibility. The main cause of the fires is forest clearance for plantations of pulpwood for paper and oil palms for biofuel and food ingredients. The combination of peatland conversion and forest fires is releasing massive quantities of CO 2 into the atmosphere and adding to climate change. Greenpeace is calling on the Indonesian government to stop all forest clearance in peatlands, and to hold liable plantation companies responsible for slash-and-burn clearances.
Tuesday 9 th January
The Estonian Attorney-General has launched an investigation into the toxic tanker Probo Koala (see October 30 th ), whose cargo of toxic waste is suspected of causing the massive pollution at Abidjan , the capital of the Ivory Coast , killing eight people and poisoning thousands. Greenpeace believes this will spark an international inquiry into the companies and regulatory agencies to stop any repetition of this environmental disaster. The government of Ivory Coast has requested Estonia to detain the ship pending a criminal investigation.
Wednesday 10 th January
In the 2006 Cooling Industry Awards, the prize in the Environmental Pioneer in Refrigeration category has gone to a solar-powered refrigeration unit. The SolarChill vaccine cooler and refrigerator enables vaccines to be stored in areas where there is no electricity supply. It can also be used for emergency relief in disaster zones. SolarChill is the product of a collaboration between Greenpeace, UNICEF, UNEP, WHO, the German anti-ozone depletion programme and the Danish Technological Institute. It has been field tested in Senegal , Indonesia and Chile . Subject to approval by the WHO, it will be deployed across the world. Website: www.solarchill.org/path.html
Thursday 11 th January
A MORI poll of Londoners has found that only 19% now use a car every day – down from 38% in 2000. This has been achieved through the introduction of the congestion charge to deter car trips in central London , and through investment in public transport. Twenty of the world's largest cities (including the five biggest in the USA), in partnership with the Clinton Foundation Climate Initiative, are working on a programme of emissions reductions in each of the cities, aiming to pool the purchasing power of the cities to make energy-saving products more affordable, and to accelerate the development of energy-saving and emissions-reducing technologies, such as less polluting transport systems, more energy-efficient buildings and decentralised energy generation.
Friday 12 th January
The MPG Marathon is an annual race for production model cars from Bristol to Newquay and back (361 miles). The winning car is the one that leaves the smallest carbon footprint. This year's winner was a Toyota Aygo 1.4D, a city car with CO 2 emissions of 109 grams per kilometre and costing around £7,000. It completed the course averaging 83.44 miles per gallon of diesel – almost 10 mpg better than its nearest rival, the Peugeot 207Hdi. For more information ring 0121 456 3199 or visit: www.mpgmarathon.com
Saturday 13 th January
Work has begun on Europe 's biggest onshore wind farm – a 140-turbine 322 MW. installation at East Kilbride near Glasgow . It will provide enough electricity to power 200,000 homes. Costing £300 million, the project will take 3 years to complete and will avoid the emission of 650,000 tonnes of CO 2 a year. There are plans for an even bigger wind farm, with 200 turbines, each 200 m. tall, near Stornoway on the island of Lewis , and for a wind farm in the Thames estuary consisting of 270 turbines – enough to power 750,000 homes. 16% of Scotland 's electricity now comes from renewable sources, compared with only 4% for the UK as a whole.
Sunday 14 th January
Save us, Father, from over-reliance on human technology and short-term solutions as we strive to repair the damage we have wrought to your world. Acknowledging our reasoning powers as your most precious gift, inspire us to put our trust in you alone, who gave your Son for our salvation.
Monday 15 th January
Cluster munitions have become a focus of attention since the recent conflict in Lebanon , but they have been maiming civilians for a long time. In Laos , people are still being injured from bombs dropped more than 30 years ago. Last November, at the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, the UK opposed a new treaty to regulate cluster bombs. Consequently the Norwegian government opened an initiative towards a new treaty to prohibit these weapons. Landmine Action's campaign “Product Recall” calls on the UK Government to stop the use, production and transfer of cluster munitions, to destroy their stockpiles and to support an international law banning these weapons. For details of how to get involved, visit: www.spreadingourvalues.com or ring Landmine Action on 020 7820 0222.
Tuesday 16 th January
According to a study published in “Nature”, a team of American scientists, using NASA satellite data over two decades, has found that, as oceans become warmer, nutrients rising from the sea bed fail to reach the surface, where the phytoplankton live which are the basis of all marine life. If they are starved of nutrients, the whole marine food chain is adversely affected. Phytoplankton account for half the photosynthesis carried out by all plants. They absorb much of the CO 2 in the atmosphere. Warmer oceans could therefore lead to increased CO 2 concentrations, leading to an accelerated rate of global warming – a positive feedback effect
Wednesday 17 th January
The governor of the Brazilian state of Para , Simao Jatene, has promised to designate 63,320 square miles of rainforest (an area bigger than England ) as a state reserve, of which one-third will be protected from all agricultural, industrial and domestic development. It borders protected rainforests in Guyana , Suriname and French Guiana , forming a green corridor known as the Guyana Shield. It contains jaguars, anteaters, giant otters and macaws, with the richest freshwater habitats in tropical America and almost 20% of the world's freshwater running through it. Indigenous people will be allowed to pursue their traditional way of life but will be unable to own land which might be sold to developers. Road-building, logging, agriculture, mining and any other non-sustainable activities will be banned or strictly controlled. Any illegal actions will be detected by satellites. Mr. Jatene said: “Some have looked upon Para and the Amazon either as a storehouse or a sanctuary. We are neither. We have a powerful legal instrument to harmoniously integrate people and natural resources. This initiative is aimed at promoting sustainable development, separating right from wrong and benefiting those who are in compliance with the law.”
Thursday 18 th January
According to a Power and Interest News Report published in August, the Arctic regions hold vast energy resources, possibly greater than 25% of global reserves, most of which are offshore beneath thick ice and deep water. The oil and gas reserves have so far been unreachable or far too costly and dangerous to extract. But rising global temperatures are causing formerly impenetrable ice sheets to melt and access to Arctic resources is increasing. Will BP, Shell and the other oil majors refrain from exploiting these newly-accessible resources? Canada 's En-Cana already has a licence to drill for oil in Greenland from 2008 and 12 other oil companies are bidding for licences to explore the seas around Greenland . The North-West Passage, now open perhaps 30 days each year, could become a major trade route for ships travelling between Europe and the Far East, which now go via the Suez Canal. The North-West Passage route would be 5,000 kilometres shorter
Friday 19 th January
Scientific bodies in the USA , Canada , Scandinavia and Russia have all recording sharply decreasing sea ice in the Arctic . According to the US National Snow & Ice Data Center, over a 29-year period to September 2006, the rate of decrease of sea ice in that month has averaged 8.59% per decade, i.e. 60,421 sq. km. a year. “At this rate”, says the NSIDC scientist Julienne Stroeve, “the Arctic Ocean will have no ice in September by the year 2060.” Furthermore, while clean snow reflects over 90% of solar radiation, open sea may reflect less than 15%. If sea ice disappears, more heat will be absorbed and the pace of climate warming will accelerate.
Saturday 20 th January
The John Ray Institute has organised a one-day workshop today at Redcliffe College , Gloucester , on “Population and Biodiversity: Too many stewards, not enough creation?”. Western Christians living in countries with only slightly increasing populations have often ignored the issue, taking comfort in Bible passages that seem to imply that Adam's descendants can reproduce without limit. However, the time has come to realise that neither the earth, nor the text, nor our co-inhabitants, can be treated like that, and that we need a fresh understanding of God's priorities when considering population issues. Speakers include Dr. John Guillebaud, Emeritus Professor of Family Planning and Reproductive Health at London University , the Revd. Margot Hodson, Chaplain of Jesus College, Oxford , and John McKeown, tutor in Environmental Theology at the Open Theological College of Gloucestershire University. For further information and to book a place, ring Diane Carter on 01452 308097 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 21 st January
Lord God, the world is full of your glory, but now it is being veiled by our negligence. Forgive us for our lack of concern. Unstop our ears, so that we may hear the groans of the living world that you created and that is now so afflicted by our thoughtlessness. Stir us up to act now to protect your suffering world. For the sake of your dear Son, who died to redeem us all.
Monday 22 nd January
In 1967, the population of the USA passed 200 million and has just reached 300 million. With just 5% of the world's population, the USA uses 23% of its energy, 15% of its meat and 28% of its paper. The additional population will mean more people seeking a share of this high-consumption lifestyle. According to Lester Brown, director of the Earth Policy Institute, “Population growth is the ever-expanding denominator that gives each person a shrinking share of the resource pie. It contributes to water shortages, cropland conversion to non-farm uses, traffic congestion, more garbage, overfishing, crowding in national parks, a growing dependence on imported oil and other conditions that diminish the quality of our daily lives.” Andrew Buncombe and Andrew Gumbel of The Independent add: “Telling Americans to consume less doesn't work. Giving them environmentally-smarter versions of the same things – more fuel-efficient cars, better insulated houses, less heavily packaged food – may be a more promising avenue. Until the government, however, gets serious about forcing manufacturers to produce these things, the age of the more rational American consumer will remain a distant prospect.” As Stern emphasised, “It is the greatest and widest-ranging market failure ever seen.”
Tuesday 23 rd January
Using data from the Living Planet Report 2006, the Optimum Population Trust calculates that, based on current resource consumption, the UK 's sustainable population is just over 17 million – less than one-third of its current population of 60 million. If the UK cuts its CO 2 emissions by 60% by 2050 (the Government's target), it could support a population of 26 million. Current human demands on resources exceed global biocapacity by 25%, but by 2050, on current projections of population growth, the world will need the equivalent of two Earths to support the population. Professor Guillebaud, co-chair of OPT, said; “These figures reinforce OPT's call for population policies, both at national and international level. Britain is living well beyond its environmental means. A recent on-line poll found that 87% of respondents thought the UK was overcrowded. Living sustainably, within the UK 's biocapacity, is a huge challenge and the Government needs to give equal importance both to population and to reducing consumption.”
Wednesday 24 th January
The EU has approved new legislation on chemicals – the REACH proposals. Chemical companies will have to provide safety data for large volume chemicals. There is also a mechanism for substitution of persistent and bioaccumulative chemicals if safer alternatives exist. The public may request information about a limited number of hazardous chemicals in products.
That is all. Major loopholes still allow many chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects and reproductive diseases to be used in manufacturing and consumer goods. Companies that import and manufacture chemicals in volumes below 10 tonnes a year – that is, 60% of the chemicals covered by REACH – are exempted from the requirement to provide meaningful safety data. To the uninitiated it is totally baffling that our elected representatives in the European Parliament can allow the chemical industry to put their profits above the health of millions of the people who elected them.
Thursday 25 th January
Today begins the 3-day annual conference of the Soil Association, meeting at the Cardiff International Area. Entitled “Preparing for a post-peak oil food and farming future”, it will focus on the need to develop new models of localised food and farming systems – anticipating the central role that farmers and growers will play in averting (or mitigating? – ed.) climate change, and in delivering food security in an era of scarce and expensive energy. Keynote speakers include Colin Campbell, Jonathan Dimbleby, Richard Heinberg, Rob Hopkins, Jeremy Leggett and Jonathon Porritt. For enquiries and bookings, ring 0117 314 5172 or email: email@example.com
Friday 26 th January
Natural gas emerges from the North Sea wellheads at pressures of around 300 bar, reducing to 80 bar by the time it reaches the coast. Geo-pressure turbines are to be used to harness this surplus kinetic energy, which would otherwise be wasted. 2OC, the company developing the technology, is ready to build two turbines into the pipeline supplying natural gas to the BOC hydrogen plant in North Tees . With a capacity of 500-700 kw., the turbines will produce enough green energy to make the Teesside plant – Britain 's biggest hydrogen production facility – self-sufficient in energy. The technology has been recognised by the regulators, Ofgem, as a renewable source of energy for securing funding through the Renewables Obligation. According to Tony Taylor of 2OC: “Geo-pressure is decentralised, mechanically efficient, and gives a continuous energy output throughout the year. It is unobtrusive and has small compact units, a fact which should make planning permission easier to obtain”. The technology, developed in France , is widely used across Europe and North America . For more information on geo-pressure technology, visit: www.2oc.co.uk
Saturday 27 th January
The Barker Review of planning law has recommended the establishment of an independent Planning Commission to fast-track major developments on energy, transport waste disposal etc. that are considered to be “of benefit to the nation”. Projects such as nuclear power stations, incinerators and wind farms would become quicker and easier to obtain, with less scope for objections from local people. CBI deputy director John Cridland commented: “Updating planning guidance on economic development for the first time in 14 years should ensure that the benefits of any development are taken into account more fully. . . If the UK is to meet future strategic energy and transport needs, plans for power stations and motorways cannot become bogged down in endless procedures and appeals.” FoE commented: “Barker's vision of uncontrolled development will mean communities will have little or no say in how their local area is developed. The Government must ensure that people have a say on the future of their communities and their environment.”
Sunday 28 th January
Lord, make me an instrument of Thy power to combat evil;
Where there is sabotage of Thy creation, let me strive to safeguard it.
Where greed seeks to destroy our moral heritage, let me be first to oppose it.
Where power and money combine to undermine our community life,
Let me hasten to affirm the supremacy of love of neighbour.
Where there is passivity, deference and conformism to the giant powers of darkness, give me the courage to radiate the light of truth. Amen.
(John Papworth, reproduced by permission)
Monday 29 th January
A report from the Economic and Social Research Council finds that planning delays rather than outright refusals are the biggest obstacles to onshore wind developments. According to David Toke, senior lecturer on environmental policy at Birmingham University , “The Scottish Executive has only one official dealing with wind power planning applications. This means that applications take so long that technology changes in the wind industry before the planning permission comes through. The delays seriously reduce the rate of implementation of the wind power programme and mean that the Renewables Obligation is more behind schedule than it need be.” Dr. Toke dismissed the Barker proposals as “a technocratic solution that will not wish away controversies surrounding planning proposals. We live in a democratic society with a lot of activity on planning issues. I can't see how this independent commission is going to make any difference in practice.”
Tuesday 30 th January
Science Minister Malcolm Wicks has announced a £10 million one-off payment to local authorities to help them prepare disposal sites to receive electrical waste from July 1 st onwards (see December 20 th ) in accordance with the EU Waste Electric & Electronic Equipment (WEEE) regulations. Over 2 million tonnes of electrical waste such as toasters, fridges and washing machines were dumped in landfills during 2005. From July 1 st all companies which import, manufacture or re-brand electrical equipment will have to finance its treatment, recovery and safe disposal. Consumers will be able to dispose of it free of charge. Distributors can either join a Distributor Take-back Scheme or offer customers in-store take-back. Waste-disposal operators can arrange to have the electrical waste taken away by the producers, free of charge, for treatment and recycling.
Wednesday 31 st January
The EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) provides financial incentives in the form of carbon allowances for industry to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Four British companies out of a total of 535 in England and Wales have failed to account for their carbon emissions and have been fined a total of £750,000. Barbara Young, director of the Environment Agency, said: “The Stern Review explained unequivocally that if we do not reduce emissions by at least 60% over the next 40 years, the cost in both human and economic terms will be catastrophic. The EA has invested a lot of time and effort engaging with industrial operators to ensure a rigorous, consistent and effective approach to regulating the ETS. As a result, more than 99% of operators met their obligations during the first year of the scheme. Only 4 out of the 535 failed to surrender sufficient carbon dioxide allowances to cover their emissions. This is the cornerstone of the scheme. They are liable to automatic civil penalties.”
Selected sources: UGI Briefing – Melting Ice – Rising Seas
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