“He (Christ) is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities.
All things were created by and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together . . .
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
and through him to reconcile to himself all things,
whether things on earth or things in heaven,
by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
(Colossians 1. 15-17 & 19-20)
“The touch of Christ is on creation and his purpose is moulded into it.
If you could split open creation, you would find imprinted into it,
like a watermark, “Made by him and for him”.
If it doesn't work for him, it works towards its own ruin.” (Selwyn Hughes)
“Hope is not the same as optimism. It is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out.
It is Hope, above all, which gives the strength to live
and continually try new things.” (Vaclav Havel)
Monday 1 st October
The 1,000 mile Cut the Carbon March, which set out from Northern Ireland on July 14 th , is due to arrive in London tomorrow for a rally outside the Stock Exchange at 12.30 followed by a service in St. Paul's Cathedral at 2 pm. To book a free ticket, ring 020 7523 2258. We can all sign the Shoelace Petition card, either online or in person, which asks Gordon Brown to strengthen the forthcoming Climate Change Bill and to push other countries to match this commitment at the UN talks in Bali this December. For more information visit: www.christianaid.org.uk/stoppoverty/climate change
Tuesday 2 nd October
A new World Watch Institute report “Vital Signs 2007/8” says that the window of opportunity to prevent catastrophic climate change is closing and that the EU should press for immediate US action to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050. It reports record levels of consumption:
In 2006 the world used up 3.9 billion tons of oil;
More wood was removed from forests in 2005 than ever before;
Steel production grew 10% to a record 1.24 billion tons, while aluminium output increased to a record 33 million tons – accounting for 3% of global electricity use;
Meat production hit a record 276 million tones (43 kg. per person), swelling the demand for soybean plantations, which are decimating tropical forests.
Governments such as Canada , Russia and Denmark are staking claims to new sources of oil and gas in the Arctic , the use of which will further exacerbate climate change.
“The only hope for reducing the world's carbon emissions is for the US to begin reducing its emissions and co-operating with other nations immediately. The EU may be the only entity that can make that happen.”
Wednesday 3 rd October
A team of scientists from Brazil, South Africa and USA has analysed the forest resources of 80 countries to discover how much CO2 is emitted from the destruction of forests. They found that carbon emissions from tropical deforestation are expected to drive atmospheric CO2 concentrations up by 129 ppm. within 100 years – more than twice previous estimates. Cool Earth is a charity launched in June to tackle climate change head-on by protecting endangered rainforest. With over 11,000 sponsors and 7 million tonnes of protected carbon, it is the world's fastest-growing environmental organisation. For more information visit: www.coolearth.org
Thursday 4 th October
Planning approval has been given for the world's largest wave farm – 16 km. off the coast of Cornwall . It will comprise up to 30 Pelamis wave energy devices that will float on the surface and connect with electrical equipment on the seabed which will be linked by cable to an onshore substation. The £28 million “Wave Hub” as it is called could generate 20 MW. of electricity – enough to power 7,500 homes. It is expected to be operational in 2009.
Friday 5 th October
Bristol-based Embley Energy has received a £150,000 grant from the Carbon Trust to develop a wave-energy converter using floating concrete. The so-called Sperboy works by displacing air from a chamber inside the buoy when it moves on the waves. The air movements drive turbine generators, which produce the electricity. The use of concrete increases the working life of the wave-energy converter and make for a cheaper alternative to other wave-energy devices. A 2-year testing programme should lead to commercial production around 2015.
Saturday 6 th October
Bristol-based Marine Current Turbines is building twin underwater turbines off the coast of Northern Ireland . These will trap the tides, passing the water through turbines to produce electricity in both incoming and outgoing tides. A study by the Carbon Trust has found that 20% of Britain 's energy needs could be met by tidal power. Yet so far the Government has allocated just £50 million over 7 years to all marine energy developments. The use of tidal power could be a model for the rest of the world – besides setting an example to other nations on ways of reducing carbon emissions.
Sunday 7 th October
Lord Jesus, you have called us to be your witnesses on earth. Help us to proclaim, by word and deed, the message of your love to all humankind, and to declare your lordship over your creation and our responsibility as your disciples.
Monday 8 th October
The annual conference of the Chartered Institute of Water & Environmental Management (CIWEM) begins today at the Oval, London . Tomorrow there will be a session on Faith, Culture & the Environment, with contributions from David Shreeve (the Archbishops' Council), Andrew Pendelton (Christian Aid), Martin Hodson (Oxford Brooks University) and representatives of the Jewish, Muslim and black communities. Pray for a coming together of these various faith groups as they confront the threats that face us all.
Tuesday 9 th October
WWF has called for new pricing tariffs for household energy and water that will benefit careful users rather than, as now, rewarding heavy consumers. Current energy and water bills run counter to the Government's commitment to reduce CO 2 emissions and conserve fresh water. Current pricing tariffs for electricity, gas and water mean that it is cheaper per unit for householders to use more of each – so offering no incentive to reduce our impact on the environment. Increasing Block Tariffs (IBTs) provide an increase in the unit price of energy and water in line with the amount used, so providing cheap basic energy and water for essential purposes and strong incentives to encourage efficient use. “We are over-consuming the planet's resources at an ever-increasing rate and this cannot continue. WWF believes it is possible to design tariffs that target inefficient and wasteful consumption and that provide incentives for clean living.”
Wednesday 10 th October
A report by Professor Dominique Belpomme, a French cancer specialist, says that the use of toxic chlordecone in banana plantations has caused a health disaster on the French islands of Martinique and Guadaloupe, with soaring rates of cancer and infertility among their 800,000 inhabitants. Chlordecone can persist in the soil for up to 100 years and the powder can cause tremors, headaches, slurred speech, dizziness, memory loss, weight loss and sterility with a risk of developing cancer. On present trends, half the men are likely to develop prostate cancer, while birth defects in children were becoming more common. Many water sources are polluted. The French minister for overseas territories has declared himself in favour of an official enquiry.
Thursday 11 th October
Premier Foods, the UK 's biggest food producer, has warned of an end to low-cost food. Wheat prices have almost doubled in the past 12 months. Robert Schofield, its chief executive, said that food inflation is not restricted to wheat. Prices of animal feed, milk products, glucose and their by-products are also rising. “It is not a blip. We are seeing forces out there that are not going to go away in three months. The overall global demand for food products is up, fuelled by demand coming out of Asia .” He added that the use of land to grow environmentally-friendly fuels is partly to blame for rising prices. “In effect, we're going to see an environmental tax on food. A lot of grain is being used for fuel.”
Friday 12 th October
Sugar basins on sale in the early 1800s sometimes carried the slogan “East India Sugar not made by Slaves” and the explanation: “A Family using 5 lb. of Sugar a Week will, by using East India instead of West India sugar, for 21 months, prevent the Slavery, or Murder of one Fellow-Creature. Eight such Families in 19 years will prevent the Slavery or Murder of 100.”
So “tokenism” is nothing new. We are advised to boil less water in kettles, switch off unnecessary lights, recycle plastic bags, turn the TV off standby – and we then sit back and think we have done our bit for the environment. “All these actions are worth doing”, writes George Marshall, “ but a MORI poll has found that 40% of people believe that recycling domestic waste (a minor contributor to global emissions) is the most important thing to do to prevent climate change, whereas only 10% mentioned the far more important goals of using public transport, cutting down on air travel and living in well-insulated houses. Sometimes people adopt the simpler solutions as part of a denial strategy that enables them to feel virtuous without changing their real behaviour.”
Saturday 13 th October
Today the Schumacher Lectures take place at the Council House, Bristol . The speakers include Nicky Gavron, Deputy Mayor of London, on “Cities and Climate Change”, Herbert Girardet of the World Future Council on “Reclaiming Our Future”, Vala Ragnasdottir, Professor of Environmental Science, on “Eco-City Bristol” and Mark Lynas, author of “High Tide”, on Cutting Carbon: Global Warming's Greatest Opportunity”. For tickets (£35 each or £30 concessions) ring 0117 903 1081 or email: email@example.com
Sunday 14 th October
Today is Seed Gathering Sunday – a time to collect seeds for the trees of the future.
Lord, as we gather our resources for the challenging times ahead, give us the strength and understanding to sow seeds in fertile ground, to tend them with persistence and integrity, and to give you the glory. Amen.
Monday 15 th October
Ice, everywhere, is melting faster than it accumulates, while most of the world's glaciers are retreating. Almost 1 billion people (one sixth of the world's population) depend on glaciers and icefields for their water. Rivers that originate in the Himalayas and are fed by glacial waters are essential to the lives of hundreds of millions of people across Asia and China . Greenland 's loss of permanent ice has risen to 220 cubic kilometres a year, while the North-West Passage is for the first time accessible for shipping. As preparations are made for the UN Climate Conference this December in Bali , pray for world leaders as they face the prospect that, unless the world can slow down climate change, the UN Millennium Development Goals – and the development agenda in general – are simply pie in the sky.
Tuesday 16 th October
President Caldera of Mexico has vetoed a law to establish biofuel production because it focuses too much on maize and sugarcane production, without considering new technologies that could allow seaweed, bacteria, enzyme and cellulose biofuels. Critics have long argued that using food crops such as maize for biofuel production could compromise world food security and put up international food prices. This is already happening across the world. May other world leaders follow the example of Mexico 's President.
Wednesday 17 th October
Thomas Homer-Dixon in “The Upside of Down” examines the reasons why so many of us deny the realities of climate change. “As long as the (capitalist) system delivers the goods – a rising standard of living and enough new jobs to absorb displaced labour – no one is motivated to challenge its foundations. We realise that it's senseless to challenge our economic system's overarching logic because we'd be challenging the source of our pay packet – the goose that lays the golden eggs. So we legitimise our elites' and experts' status and power while they give us an overarching ideology of permanence, order and purpose, whereby economic growth is a panacea for all our social and environmental problems. Unfortunately, when we're in denial, we can't prepare to choose the best path to take when opportunity offers. Yet, in order to survive, let alone prosper, in our new and dangerous world, we need to open our minds to the possibility of fundamental change in our lives.”
Thursday 18 th October
Over the past 50 years (according to Homer-Dixon), Western societies have been astonishingly lucky. They avoided – as much by chance as by design – a catastrophic nuclear war with the Soviet Union , they've had access to a vast pool of petroleum in the Middle East and they've enjoyed and exploited a stable and productive natural environment.
“But luck can't last for ever. Oil will become scarcer, Earth's climate will become warmer and more unstable, while terrorists may well import weapons of mass destruction into our cities. The new challenge is not to preserve the status quo, but rather to adapt to, and shape for the better, a world of constant change.”
Friday 19 th October
Saudi Arabia currently produces 12% of the world's oil. We do not know how much oil is left because, for the past 17 years, the official figures for oil reserves have remained at about 260 billion barrels. The world will get no warning before Saudi output peaks. When the peak has passed, the fall is likely to be rapid. The UN estimates that Saudi population will grow by 40% in the next 15 years. Half its population consists of young adults aged 15-29. Corruption is endemic, human rights are abused and there is barely a glimmer of democratic process. Pray for peace in the Middle East .
Saturday 20 th October
“Stormy Weather? Putting Faith into Action on Climate Change” is the theme of a 10-4 event in Crawley organised by the Diocese of Chichester (Anglican), the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton (Roman Catholic) and Christian Ecology Link. “How can the vision of CEL motivate our Churches to care for Creation?” and “What are the Churches doing?” are two of the questions to be addressed. We shall hear from ‘Shrinking the Footprint', Eco-Congregation, the National Justice & Peace Network, Eco-Faith and CEL. To book a place, email: Helen.firstname.lastname@example.org or ring 01273 421021.
Sunday 21 st October
Protect us, O Lord, from thoughts without action,
Guard us, O Lord, from words without feelings,
Defend us, O Lord, from ideas without results,
And surround us with your Presence. Amen. (David Adam – adapted)
Monday 22 nd October
WWF, FoE, CND and the Green Alliance have all pulled out of talks with the Government on the future of nuclear power. The groups have several times expressed concerns over the way in which the consultation is being framed. The Government has not acted on the recommendations of its independent advisers, the Sustainable Development Commission, for a full and fair public consultation. According to WWF, the Government had every opportunity to improve the consultation to be genuinely open and transparent and not designed to justify a predetermined view that new nuclear build is needed. “We hope that the Government will reconsider its position to allow for a full and fair consultation on the crucial issue of the future of nuclear power in this country.”
Tuesday 23 rd October
The problem of safe disposal of nuclear waste remains unsolved. It can be stolen and used by terrorists for radiological or “dirty” bombs. It also contains plutonium, which can be extracted to make atomic weapons. Guarding and ensuring control of nuclear plants and of the transport and storage of their waste would require something near police-state security.
Meanwhile nuclear fusion has yet to be harnessed. Fifty years ago it was to be available for commercial use by the end of the century. That goal is still fifty years away.
Wednesday 24 th October
New contracts have been signed for the safe decommissioning and containment of the Chernobyl plant. The “New Safe Confinement” project will ensure a sealed environment, preventing the incursion of water and snow while also protecting the outside environment against the release of radioactivity. Britain has so far contributed 77 million euros towards international shelter and decommissioning funds. We have yet to receive accurate figures for the costs of decommissioning Britain 's ageing nuclear reactors.
Thursday 25 th October
Last month representatives from 191 countries met in Montreal to discuss whether to do more to speed up the disappearance of the polar ozone holes, which are expected to return to pre-1980 levels by 2075. The Kyoto Clean Development Mechanism has helped in the disposal of much of the greenhouse gas HFC-23, a by-product of the coolant HFC-22, but this is the only current mechanism to prevent emissions of this gas. By addressing this issue, the world will also be helping to mitigate climate change. Indeed, the success of the Montreal Protocol in dealing with ozone-destroying chemicals could provide a model for international agreement on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol after 2012.
Friday 26 th October
The UN population division has predicted that 2.2 million migrants will arrive in the rich world every year until 2050, when world population is expected to stabilise at or about 9.2 billion. Britain 's population will rise from 60 million to approaching 69 million by 2050 – almost entirely because of immigration. The increase in world population from the current 6.7 billion to 9.2 billion will almost all occur in Africa , Asia and the Middle East . Many of the additional 2.5 billion will migrate to Europe and America , while the indigenous populations of most countries in the rich world will either stagnate or decline. These figures foretell a global upheaval without parallel in human history.
Saturday 27 th October
The latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that, during 2006, 160,00 British citizens left the country and were more than replaced by 574,000 incomers, of whom just 90,000 were returning citizens. Optimum Population Trust comments: “Out-migration has been climbing for several years. The evidence suggests that it is driven by a perceived decline in UK quality of life, with congestion, queues, overcrowding and general ‘lack of space' a key element in people's decisions to move. The new figures indicate that more and more people are opting for a more spacious and less fraught existence overseas, in countries where there are fewer crowds and more room to breathe.
England is now the world's 4 th most densely populated country. Over the next six decades the population is forecast to rise by another 10 million. Given that many of the people leaving will be skilled professionals, the figures suggest that unsustainably high population levels in the UK may already be causing significant economic damage.”
Sunday 28 th October
Father, as we read and see 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 29 th October
Preventative anti-malarial drugs given three times a year to 6,000 primary schoolchildren in Kenya have cut their risk of malarial infection by a third, as well as reducing anaemia. Treated children performed better in cognitive tests and slightly better in school exams. The research, conducted by the Institute of Tropical & Infectious Diseases in Nairobi , is expected to lead to routine preventative therapy for schoolchildren. Further studies are planned in Kenya and Senegal .
Tuesday 30 th October
According to Homer-Dixon, cycles of breakdown and renewal are normal in modern capitalist economies. Recessions shift capital from inefficient firms to productive ones, while helping to purge the excesses of earlier boom times. Social breakdowns, resulting from environmental stresses, are a different matter. Extremists are sometimes well organised to seize the initiative. “People who aren't extremist must work hard to build bonds of trust and understanding and to lay down action plans for a wide range of possible futures.” The Transition Movement is a grassroots attempt to bring local communities together to co-ordinate measures to meet the twin threats of climate change and peak oil. For more details visit: www.transitionculture.org and www.transitiontowns.org
Wednesday 31 st October
Homer-Dixon believes we need to figure out whether there are feasible alternatives to our commitment to economic growth, since it's already clear that endless material growth is incompatible with the long-term viability of the Earth's environment. “What might a steady-state economy look like? What economic and ethical values might it be based on? Could it incorporate a radically-transformed version of market-based capitalism? How would we deal with the political and social conflicts that would inevitably arise if there were no growth? Conventional wisdom says that a steady-state society would be, at best, a miserable place to live and, at worst, brutally oppressive. Perhaps that's just because so far we've simply found such a radically different future too hard to imagine.”
“The Upside of Down” by Thomas Homer-Dixon (Souvenir Press) www.edie.net
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