“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. . . .
But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us
with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will.” (Romans 8. 22-27)
“To pray is nothing more than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting him to exercise his power in dealing with them. It requires no strength. It is only a question of our wills. Will we give Jesus access to our needs?
“If the request isn't right, He answers ‘No',
If the timing isn't right, He answers ‘Slow!',
If you aren't ready yet, He answers ‘Grow!',
When everything's ready and right . . .
His answer is ‘Go!'. (anon.)
Thursday 1 st March
Mr. Justice Sullivan in the High Court has ruled that the Government's public consultation on a new generation of power plants was inadequate and misleading. He said that the consultation was “seriously flawed” because of lack of information provided by the Government and, with regard to nuclear waste, the process was “misleading”. The ruling is expected to delay the Energy White Paper which was due out this month. Nuclear currently accounts for around 20% of the UK 's electricity but only 3% of total energy use. Campaigners argue that new nuclear plants would only come on stream around 2018 and would not sufficiently cut carbon emissions, and propose decentralised energy systems with more focus on renewables and energy efficiency.
Friday 2nd March.
The European Committee on Radiation Risk (ECRR) has published a book entitled “ Chernobyl : 20 years on”. Most of the research has come from members of the Russian Academy of Sciences and appears for the first time in English. Here are some extracts: “In 20 years it has become clear that not tens, hundreds or thousands, but millions of people in the Northern Hemisphere have suffered and will suffer from the Chernobyl catastrophe . . . Official secrecy until 1989 and irreversible state falsification of medical data during the first 3 years after the catastrophe . . . highlights the inadequacy of material concerning primary epidemiological consequences of this catastrophe.” (A.Y. Yablokov, Russian Academy of Sciences) “The detected cytogenetic effects of chronic low-intensive irradiation in the germ and somatic cells of wild animals exceeded the expected levels deduced from extrapolation of the data from the high-dose range of acute or chronic irradiation. In wild rodents increased frequency of cytogenetic injuries in somatic and germ cells, as well as embryonal lethality, were shown to remain over the life spans of no less than 22 generations.” (Goncharova & Ryabokon 1998)
Saturday 3rd March.
“Nuclear Cover-Ups” is the title of a DVD made by Green Audit dealing with the effects of pollution from Sellafield on coastal communities of the Irish Sea, plus a Swiss account of the cover-ups by the WHO and IAEA at the Chernobyl conference in Kiev in 2001. Another DVD, dealing with the cancer cluster discovered at Trawsfynydd in 2006, is due out later this year. For more information, contact Green Audit, Castle Cottage, Sea View Place , Aberystwyth ST23 1DZ .
Sunday 4th March.
Father, we pray for all those working in the nuclear industry. Be with them when they face conflicts between their beliefs and their apparent interests. Support them in every crisis and make your presence known to them, especially when they face pressure to conform.
Monday 5th March.
A day conference takes place today at Horncastle College , Lincolnshire , with the title “Common Ground: Making, Sowing, Reaping, Sustaining: Bringing Farming and Fairtrade Together.” Arranged by Churches Together in All Lincolnshire, the conference will hear Colin Tudge, author of “So Shall We Reap” with other speakers. There are workshops on local produce, becoming a Fairtrade town, supermarkets and food security. Fee: £10 including refreshments. For more information contact Terry Miller, Church House, Lincoln LN2 1PU tel. 01522 50472 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday 6th March.
UK supermarkets have begun to compete on meeting the challenge of climate change. M & S has launched a £200 million plan to become carbon neutral and to send no waste to landfill by 2012, while extending sustainable sourcing policies and ethical trading. Tesco has pledged to spend £500 million on energy efficiency by 2012, to support emerging low-carbon technologies and to put carbon labelling on all their products. Meanwhile, the Competition Commission has drawn attention to Tesco's land bank of undeveloped sites, which, if built on, would raise Tesco's market share from 30% to 45%. The Commission is investigating the rules governing the time allowed for a retailer to hold land undeveloped.
Wednesday 7th March.
President Bush in his State of the Union address gave strong support to the development of biofuels to supplement conventional transport fuels. 40% of Brazil 's cars are said to run on bioethanol derived from sugar residues, but much of its forest land is being ploughed to provide more ethanol for export markets. In the USA , 55 million tons of maize have been turned into bioethanol (one-sixth of the entire corn harvest), but because of its inefficiency as a fuel, this provides only enough bioethanol to substitute for 3% of the oil and diesel currently used in road transport. Figures from the OECD show that Europe would need to convert more than 70% of all its arable land to raise the proportion of biofuel used in road transport to only 10%
Thursday 8th March.
Each year the world has 75 million more mouths to feed. The 2006 heatwaves reduced both US and European harvests. With global grain stocks lower than for many years, the increased demand for wheat and maize to produce biofuels has caused prices to rocket. The National Association of British & Irish Millers has warned that subsidies for biofuels could take away wheat from food production.
“When you start importing bread and biscuit, you're not only looking at the potential demise of the UK milling industry, but you're potentially taking out the market permanently.” Only in the rich West can we afford to feed both ourselves and our cars. Elsewhere the choice between fuel and food is becoming inescapable. The grain needed to fill an SUV's 25-gallon tank with bioethanol could feed one person for a whole year.
Friday 9th March.
A normal petrol engine cannot run on more than a 15% ethanol blend and it is prohibitively expensive to modify an old car. A litre of ethanol contains 33% less energy than a litre of petrol. Moreover, ethanol-blended fuels cannot be transported by pipeline as the ethanol attracts water, which would make it ineffective as fuel, so they must be transported by road. With the EU requiring a blend of 5.75% biofuel in all road transport by 2010, an extra 521.5 million tonnes of fuel would need to be transported annually – equivalent to an extra 16,478 tanker journeys each year.
Conserving energy is hard to sell both to industry and to the public yet, politically unpopular though it is, we all have to accept the need to reduce our fossil fuel consumption.
Saturday 10th March.
Today the John Ray Institute is hosting a conference at Trinity College , Bristol , on the Severn Barrage project. Speakers on the subject of “Environmental Decision-Making: Does Theology Help?” include leading chartered engineers, an environmental scientist, a lecturer on Old Testament history and the Chaplain of Jesus College, Oxford. For booking information, ring Fran Brealey on 0117 968 2803 or write to her at: Trinity College , Stoke Hill, Stoke Bishop, Bristol BS9 1JP.
Sunday 11th March.
Lord, we lift into your hands the witness of Christian thinkers, teachers, scientists and commentators on the environment and the world you created. We thank you for those who have worked to create beauty, fruitfulness and order. We pray for our generation, that we may hand on to our successors a world better for our having lived in it. Amen.
Monday 12th March.
A report from Christian Aid claims that only 16 of the 100 companies on the FTSE 100 Index report their CO 2 emissions in line with established standards. If all hundred companies applied those standards, they would have to declare a further 190.65 million tonnes of carbon emissions – almost 33% more. The report claims that the true figures for the emissions of major companies could be as much as 15% of the global total. It recommends that the existing voluntary standards should be made mandatory.
Tuesday 13th March.
According to a new World Bank report, about 60 million people in the developing world would lose their homes as a result of a 3-foot rise in sea level. Much of the Nile Delta would be flooded. Large parts of Vietnam , including the Mekong Delta, would be submerged. Susmita Dasgupta, the author of the report, commented: “Knowing which countries will be most affected could allow better targeting of scarce resources and could spur vulnerable nations to develop adaptation plans now and avoid big losses later.” Meanwhile the G8 nations plus Brazil , China , India , Mexico and South Africa have met in Washington and urged governments to adopt a 2009 deadline for establishing a post-Kyoto agreement on emissions.
Wednesday 14th March.
Microbial fuel cells (MFCs) use the electrons produced when bacteria decompose wastewater in order to induce an electric current. The technology has been used for years to turn wastewater into renewable electricity and clean water, but only on a small scale due to the expense of the corrosion-resistant conductors used in the MFCs. Now researchers at Pennsylvania State University believe they are near to an economic solution. Domestic wastewater from a city of 100,000 people could produce around 2.3 MW. of electricity while providing cost-free water treatment. For more information see the Penn State University MFC research website.
Thursday 15th March
Arizona-based First Solar Inc. is to supply 550,000 photovoltaic modules for a 130 million euro solar power plant to be built by Juwi Solar in Saxony , Germany , by the end of 2009. The plant will generate around 40 MW. of solar power, substituting for about 25,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. The Juwi Group is active in wind and biomass as well as solar energy, but sees solar as its biggest growth market – thanks to Germany 's favourable policies in this field. The company already has over 30 MW. of installed solar capacity and is engaged on several projects in Italy , Spain and Rwanda .
Friday 16th March.
A 100-passenger hydrogen-powered ferry will, later this year, begin
to carry commuters across Amsterdam 's river between the city centre and Shell's New Technology Centre. A consortium of international companies is building the boat plus a fuelling station. The hydrogen will initially be produced from natural gas, but there are plans to use wind power in the future, making the whole project emission-free.
Saturday 17 th March.
The Church Times Green Awards have been introduced with three aims:
To acknowledge, encourage and support the practical environmental work done by churches and their congregations;
To spread the word about environmental action and encourage other congregations to get started;
To celebrate good practice, by featuring the short-listed projects in the Church Times and at an awards ceremony.
There are nine award categories. Churches of any denomination may apply for more than one award in the different areas of their work. The award categories and their donors are:
Action with the community – Conservation Foundation
Biodiversity – A Rocha UK
Campaigning to cut the carbon – Operation Noah/Christian Ecology Link
Celebrating creation – Eco-congregation
Changing Lifestyles – Tearfund/ A Rocha's Living Lightly
Energy saving in church buildings – Shrinking the Footprint/Marches Energy Agency
International action – Christian Aid
Young people – Christian Aid
Overall award: Best of the best – Church Times
Entries to: Green Church Awards, Church Times, 33 Upper Street , London N1 0PN . Closing date: 30 th June. email@example.com
Sunday 18th March.
God our Father, we thank you for the incredible diversity of the world you have created. Open our eyes that we may see your handiwork ever about us. Teach us to value it as precious in your sight. Be with all who are working to protect the forests, oceans and waterways, and to keep them safe for posterity. This we pray in the name of your Son, who died to redeem all your creation.
Monday 19th March.
Care for our planet has become a priority for many religious
groups. The Islamic Foundation for Ecology & Environmental Sciences (IFEES) networks with NGOs, international organisations, academic bodies and grassroots organisations around the world and invites collaboration with all who are dedicated to maintaining the Earth as a healthy habitat for future generations of humans and other living beings.
In Islamic Law the role of humans is that of “khalifa” or guardianship, i.e. a moral relationship with the rest of creation which demands self-restraint and awareness of the needs of others. Muslim scholars have formulated the following principles:
Every member of society is entitled to benefit from a common resource to the extent of his/her need, so long as s/he does not violate, infringe or obstruct the equal rights of other members of society;
In return for benefits derived from a renewable resource, the user is obliged to maintain its value;
If the user causes destruction, impairment or degradation, s/he is accountable and held liable to the extent of putting right the damage caused
For more information, visit: www.ifees.org.uk/newsletter_2_small.pdf
Tuesday 20th March.
Since 1950 the night sky has more or less disappeared for urban people. There is now nowhere in England where you can see a totally dark sky. According to Bob Mizon, an astronomer speaking at the NSCA conference, “Light pollution is wasted energy. It's not controlled and it's not exactly where we want it. As we count the environmental cost of energy inefficiency, there is a growing political will to address the problem. With directional lights that point down rather than across, and shuttering to stop beams spilling outwards, the technology and knowledge is already available. Light pollution is not simply an annoyance for those who wish to see the stars, but throws natural cycles off balance too.” Carol Williams of the Bat Conservation Trust explained how inappropriate light could have a profound impact not just on bats, but on all forms of wildlife, from flowers and insects to turtles and birds. “If lighting engineers, planners and conservationists worked together from the outset, there would be little problem in creating communities that did not block out the night sky with an orange glow and didn't interfere with nature's night-time habits.”
Wednesday 21st March.
A 3-day conference on “Lifestyles: How do our choices impact on the Global South?” begins today at Swanwick, Derbyshire. The speakers include Sir John Houghton, Dr. Elaine Storkey, Andrew Simms of NEF, Dr. Peter Heslam, director of Transforming Business, and Revd. Joe Kapolyo, author of “The Human Condition: Christian Perspectives through African Eyes”. Workshops are led by Christian Aid, Eco-congregation, Operation Noah, WDM, CAFOD, Tearfund, the Fairtrade Foundation, Tourism Concern and others. The programme is threaded with worship and prayer opportunities. For more details ring 0207 523 2048.
Thursday 22nd March.
Unintended capture of seabirds, turtles, dolphins and other animals in fishing nets is a major problem. WWF and Seafish (which represents fishermen, fish farmers, wholesalers, retailers and caterers) have launched an International Smart Gear Competition to find new designs of fishing gear to minimise bycatch. Helen McLachlan of WWF explained: “The UK-specific prize for an innovative, practical, cost-effective contribution to reducing bycatch will be £2,500. The internationally best design will be awarded £15,262, with £2,500 going to each of two runners-up.” Entries must be submitted before August 1 st by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further details are available at: www.smartgear.org
Friday 23rd March.
Solar PV cells currently provide electricity at $2-$3 per watt. Now the Swiss company Flisom has developed a thin polymer foil, 20 times lighter than normal glass-based solar materials, which can be mass-produced in cheap rolls like packaging. It is based on a CIGS (CuInGaSe2) semiconductor compound which absorbs light by freeing electrons. It is then embedded in a polymer base and needs no expensive substrate. Commercial production will begin in 2009 and should cut the cost of PV electricity to 80 cents per watt within five years – so undercutting the cost of oil and gas. Mike Splinter of the US semiconductor group Applied Materials reports that cell conversion efficiency and economies of scale are galloping ahead so fast that the cost of PV electricity will be down to 70 cents by 2010.
Saturday 24th March .
Today, at Sarum College , Salisbury , the Centre for Faith & Action in Society (CeFAS) is hosting a JRI conference on “Why should Christians Care for the Planet?”. Speakers include Dr. Martin Hodson, lecturer in Environmental Biology at Oxford Brookes University , Revd. Margo Hodson, chaplain of Jesus College , Oxford , and Dr. Michael Morecroft of the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology. There will be bible studies on “Stewardship or Domination”, “And God sent his Son” and “Creation Groaning”. There will be practical workshops on “How to build a sustainable Christian community”, “Can I be sustainable and busy?” and “Local, organic or Fairtrade? How to juggle values”. For further details email: email@example.com or visit: www.sarum.ac.uk
Sunday 25th March .
Today, the 200 th Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade, there will be many services of Celebration and Dedication.
Lord of justice and compassion, as we give thanks for the work of William Wilberforce, Thomas Clarkson and the other campaigners for abolition, we pray for increased public awareness and concern about today's slavery and people trafficking. Please move the hearts of all who have influence, so that they will campaign effectively against this iniquitous trade.
Monday 26th March.
The All Party Parliamentary Group on Population, Development & Reproductive Health has published a report on the impact of population growth on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). It finds a large, well-documented, unmet need for family planning, especially among the 2 billion people who live on less than $2 a day. “It is clear that the MDGs are difficult or impossible to achieve without a renewed focus on, and investment in, family planning. Large families are usually not the choice of the poor, but a result of their inability to exercise their options to manage their family size. The human right of couples to make voluntary decisions on when to have a child is fully compatible with the welfare of both the individual and society. Wherever fertility has fallen, there is little doubt that female empowerment to control fertility is a key part of that equation.”
Its recommendations are:
In line with commitments at Ottawa (2002), Strasbourg (2004) and Bangkok (2006), 10% of overseas development aid should be targeted for population and reproductive health;
Ensure availability of contraceptive supplies as a top priority;
Eliminate the wide range of barriers to family planning;
Use available resources cost-effectively;
Provide technical assistance to governments of developing countries to improve capacity to prioritise and monitor the use of resources for family planning and reproductive health;
Encourage the development, environment and reproductive health/family planning communities to work together and address the problems caused by rapid population growth.
Tuesday 27th March.
A major new road, the Via Baltica, is planned to link Prague to Helsinki via Poland , but the civil engineers Budimex-Dromex have been warned by a consortium of environmental groups that they will be held liable for damage inflicted on nature. The road is planned to run through the Augustow and Knyszyn primeval forests and the Biebrza Marshes National Park . Amongst the wildlife threatened are wolves, lynxes and both lesser-spotted and white-tailed eagles. Last December the European Commission launched legal proceedings against the Polish Government over eight road developments along the Via Baltica which were likely to damage protected sites. A new EU directive on environmental liability for the first time places responsibility for damage not only on investors and authorities, but also on operators working on projects.
Wednesday 28th March.
Biofuels do not have to come from energy crops, which inevitably compete for space with food crops. In Sweden, the world's largest biogas plant has opened in Gothenburg at a cost of 3.2 million euros. By refining gas from the city's wastewater treatment plant, it produces 1,000 cu. metres of biogas per hour, both for energy production and as vehicle fuel. The Government and 25 local authorities are to build 200 new biogas supply stations within 2-3 years. The biogas produced will replace the use of about 35 million litres of petrol and diesel, so cutting carbon emissions by 50,000 tonnes a year. Sweden already has 779 biogas-driven buses. In Linkoping, all the buses run on biogas produced locally from slaughterhouses, agricultural waste and other organic waste. Sales of biogas-powered cars increased by 49% in 2005 alone.
Thursday 29th March.
Tony Blair's Africa Commission last year declared that the mass growing of biofuels in Africa provides a sustainable development path for the many African countries that can produce biofuels cheaply. However, a coalition of rainforest and development NGOs warned the Nairobi conference last November: “The Genetic Engineering industry is keen to use acceptance of biofuels as a strategy to speed up GM acceptance in Africa. Most African countries have yet to develop biosafety policies on GM crops and are cautious of the difficulties in regulating and monitoring this novel system, which could easily cross-pollinate and contaminate conventional agriculture.”
Friday 30th March.
Many environmental groups and NGOs are calling for a moratorium on EU biofuel targets in order to protect natural resources and local communities in the South. An open letter warns that “the proposed targets will promote crops with poor greenhouse gas balances, trigger deforestation and loss of biodiversity and exacerbate local land use conflicts. Not only is deforestation a major cause of CO 2 emissions, but biodiesel from South East Asian palm oil (where most palm oil originates) can be expected to cause between two and eight times as much CO 2 emissions as the emissions from the fossil fuel diesel it replaces.” The letter is open for signature and can be found online at: www.biofuelwatch.org
Saturday 31st March.
The 140-turbine Greater Gabbard wind farm, planned for building 16 miles off the Suffolk coast, has been approved by the Government. Work will begin in 2009. When completed, the wind farm will provide 500 MW. of electricity – enough to supply over 415,000 homes – more than the total demand in Suffolk . Eddie Connor of Airtricity, the Irish-based developers, believes that all Europe 's energy needs could eventually be met by wind power. He wants Britain and Germany to pool their wind-powered electricity in a “supergrid that would provide infinite access to this treasure trove of energy.” More prosaically, the bigger the grid, the easier it would be to meet objections on the ground that “the wind does not always blow.”
Answers to prayer . In response to requests, single copies of back issues since 1990 are available, on loan, to anyone who is interested.
Sources: The Ecologist; Radioactive News
www.edie.net www.wwf.org.uk www.tiempocyberclimate.org
For further information and requests for prayer, please write or email:
Philip Clarkson Webb, 15 Valley View, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells TN4 0SY Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.christian-ecology.org.uk