“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no-one lives.
But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jer.17.5-8)
“Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men , who cannot save.” (Psalm 146.2)
“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men,
so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12.2-3)
Saturday 1 st December
A whole generation of us has grown up to believe that the Government or the NHS or the police can be trusted to solve all our problems. Recent events have severely dented this belief. The Victorians believed that individual self-help was the route to prosperity and well-being. By contrast, Transition Town initiatives now springing up all over the country are based on the belief that communities, at local level, can be most effective in facing up to the twin challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change. Pray for all who are ready to seize such opportunities to translate their Christian faith into practical action. www.transitiontowns.org
Sunday 2 nd December
Loving Lord, save us from being over-anxious about the world's pains and tragedies, about the future of the church, about the immediate challenges of life, about the ultimate future of all things and all lives. Teach us to trust in Christ, who carried the sins of the whole world, who is the Head of the Church, the Good Shepherd, the Resurrection and the Life, today and every day. (Richard G. Jones)
Monday 3rd December
The UN Climate Talks open today in Bali and continue until the 14th. International demonstrations around the world will take place next Saturday. This is the Call for Action : "We demand that world leaders take the urgent and resolute action that is needed to prevent the catastrophic destabilisation of global climate, so that the entire world can move as rapidly as possible to a stronger emissions reductions treaty which is both equitable and effective in preventing dangerous climate change.
We also demand that the long-industrialised countries that have emitted most greenhouse gases up to now take most of the responsibility for the adaptive measures that have to be taken, especially by low-emitting countries with limited economic resources."
Pray for world leaders as they face a prospect of ever more intense climate disasters unless they can reconcile a massive curb on carbon emissions with the economic betterment of their peoples. Pray for a wide acceptance of the principle of Contraction and Convergence as an equitable way of reducing global emissions.
Tuesday 4 th December
In its annual report the International Energy Agency (IEA) states that emissions of greenhouse gases will rise by 57% by 2030, leading to a rise in the earth's surface temperature of at least 3 0 C. On the basis of projected energy use and current efforts to reduce emissions, greenhouse gas pollution would rise by 1.8% annually until 2030. Yet the IPCC warned that to limit the average increase in temperatures to 2.4 0 C. carbon dioxide emissions would have to peak by 2015 at the latest and then fall 50-85% by 2050. But the IEA, on its most optimistic scenario, now sees no peak in emissions before 2020. But if China and India continue their current strong growth, using coal as a principle energy source, warming could reach 6 0 C. by 2030.
Wednesday 5 th December
A report commissioned by the German Government outlines a means of meeting the electricity demand of the whole of Europe , cutting CO 2 emissions by 70% by 2050 and at the same time phasing out nuclear power. “Each year” writes Dr. Franz Trieb, the project manager, “every square kilometer of the world's hot deserts receives solar energy equivalent to 1.5 million barrels of oil – enough to supply the world's energy demands nearly a thousand times over.” This technology, using giant mirrors to concentrate solar energy and so to produce heat which can be used to raise steam and drive a generator in the conventional way, has been producing electricity in California for nearly 20 years. With high-voltage DC transmission, only about 3% of power is lost for every thousand kilometers. Solar electricity could be imported from North Africa to London with only about 10% loss of power. A second report (MED-CSP) deals with collaboration between the EU, Middle East and North Africa , showing the benefits of a plentiful supply of inexpensive pollution-free electricity and the creation of jobs in a large new industry. For further details, visit: www.trec-uk.org.uk
Thursday 6 th December
In 2006, according DEFRA, the UK spent £2.2 billion on imported coal, £2.5 billion on imported natural gas and £24 billion on imported crude and refined oil. With Peak Oil fast approaching and Peak Gas not far behind, the Government's Energy White Paper suggests that the future lies with clean coal and nuclear energy. But if we burn the world's known reserves of coal, global temperatures will rise by 10-12 0 C. The last time that occurred was 250 million years ago and caused the Permian extinction of 90% of the world's living species.
There is enough uranium in known deposits to keep existing plants supplied for 42 years. But India has announced plans to build 24 new reactors, China a further 40, Japan 13, Russia 40 and the USA expects applications for another 29. Clearly, the end of non-renewable energy sources is not far away and continued growth in world population can only hasten that day.
Friday 7 th December
Tidal power in the UK could generate at least 20% of our electricity needs. Tidal lagoons, built in the Severn Estuary to trap water and high tides and release it through turbines at low tides, would generate huge amounts of power and would have a minimal impact on the tidal range and ecology. Tidal lagoons could generate up to 14 TWh more power per year than a conventional barrage. Unlike other renewables, tidal stream technology can provide a regular, predictable source of power. Pilot projects are already underway, but are limited by lack of Government funding.
Saturday 8 th December
Today at 11 am supporters of CEL and Operation Noah meet for a Climate Service at St Matthew's Church, 20 Great Peter Street , London SW1P 2BU after refreshments at 10. The March Against Climate Change assembles at 12 noon on Millbank ( Westminster tube station) and moves to the US Embassy for a rally to be addressed by George Monbiot, Caroline Lucas MEP and others. For further information visit www.campaigncc.org Operation Noah can be contacted on 020 7324 4761 and CEL on 01252 849904.
Sunday 9 th December
Lord God our Creator, who has made this planet to sustain a myriad forms of life, give us the wisdom and perseverance to stand up publicly against all abuse of your earth for wrongful gain, all exploitation for selfish greed and all casual indifference to the dangers now so clearly visible. Make us responsible, caring guardians of our inheritance and give us wisdom to find the right means to protect it in the face of what is, humanly speaking, a desperate situation. This we ask in the name of your dear Son, who gave his life to redeem your world.
Monday 10 th December
Energy return on energy invested (EROEI) is a crucial factor in decisions on alternative energy sources. Recovering oil from the Alberta Tar Sands invests more energy in the recovery process than is gained from the oil recovered. Slightly less energy-intensive is the harvesting and processing of biofuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. The least energy-intensive energy sources derive from tidal range technology, landfill gas and offshore wind power.
Another factor is the carbon footprint of different energy sources. Those with the biggest carbon footprint are conventional coal, tar sands and nuclear energy. Those with the smallest carbon footprint are tidal range, solar thermal and both offshore and onshore wind energy. For full details and references visit: www.theecologist.org/energy
Tuesday 11 th December
Few can deny that the switch to renewable energy will slow economic growth, but the impact will be negligible compared to what we can expect if we crash into recession caused by fuel scarcity or suffer climate shocks of which the summer floods were just a foretaste. The impact of Peak Oil and Climate Change is already showing in the form of higher fuel prices, higher food prices and higher insurance premiums. Yet the Stern Review spelt out clearly the economic costs of any further delay in tackling climate change.
Wednesday 12 th December
At the G8 summit in June, scientists warned that two-thirds of all wild plants could be extinct by 2100 as a result of climate change, population growth and industrial agriculture. Wakehurst Place in Sussex is home to the Millennium Seed Bank, which holds the seeds of 30% of all the 200 plant species that could be used for food crops. If an epidemic disease were to strike a major food crop, millions could starve. The only salvation might lie in seed banks.
Yet the Millennium Seed Bank relies on Lottery Funding matched by public and industry donations. Owing to the seemingly insatiable demands of the London Olympics, Lottery funding is due to run out in 2009. Roger Smith, former head of the seed bank, said: “ For our children's children to meet the challenges ahead, they need the greatest biological inheritance we can bequeath them. To knowingly fritter away that inheritance is selfishness for which they will rightly condemn us.”
To establish a community seed bank, visit www.farmradio.org and search for ‘seed banks'. To create your own seedbank visit www.kew.org/msbp
Thursday 13th December
The US Government has given permission to grow GM eucalyptus trees in Alabama . The GM traits include the ability to kill insects and to reduce the lignin content. Already a GM plum variety has been approved for commercial release, followed recently by GM poplars engineered for reduced lignin content or reduced light response. Lignin gives trees strength and enables them to take up water. Rising demand for biofuels has offered a breakthrough for GM trees, despite this year's UN report which said that biofuels do not save greenhouse gas emissions when growing them necessitates clearance of forests or peatlands.
Low-lignin trees are of particular value for biofuels despite their increased vulnerability to gales. However, the tendency for GM traits to leak into ecosystems poses the threat of disastrously weakened forests unable to cope with extreme weather. Once fallen, such trees decompose more rapidly, returning CO 2 to the atmosphere at an accelerated rate.
Friday 14 th December
A new Greenpeace report “Cooking the Climate” explains that peatland swamps are being drained, dried out and set on fire to make way for palm oil crops to provide food, fuel and fabric softeners. UN figures predict a doubling of palm oil production from 20.2 million tones a year to 40 million tones by 2030. Prices in the Malaysian markets have just hit a record high, stoked up in part by our Government's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation which requires a proportion of transport fuel to consist of biofuels. Campaigners have called on world leaders to negotiate a funding mechanism which sets a value on standing forests in order to protect them from commercial exploitation.
Saturday 15 th December
Achim Steiner, head of UNEP, referring to the destruction of Indonesian peat swamps, implied that because of that country's inability to police its land use, biofuels from palm oil would never be deemed sustainable. Some biofuels however might be considered sustainable, such as ethanol production in Brazil and jatropha trees elsewhere, though this was denied by some scientists. UNEP has set up a task force to study the life-cycle implications of all biofuels and will publish its findings next year.
Sunday 16 th December
Grant us, loving Lord, a new vision of your world:
A world of justice, where none shall prey on others;
A world of plenty, where poverty shall cease to fester;
A world of brotherhood, where success shall be founded on service,
and honour be given to integrity alone;
A world of peace, where order shall not rest on force,
but on the love of all for the land which you created.
Monday 17 th December
An EnergyWatchGroup report on global oil supply finds that world oil production peaked in 2006 and that from now on production will decline at several percent a year. “The world is at the beginning of a structural change of its economic system. The change, triggered by a sharp decline of fossil fuel supplies, will influence almost all aspects of daily life. Climate change will also force humanity to change its energy consumption patterns by significantly reducing the burning of fossil fuels. Anticipated supply shortages could easily lead to the scenes of mass unrest witnessed in Burma in October.” Comments Jeremy Leggett, CEO of Solar Century and former member of the Government's Renewables Advisory Board: “My experience of debating the peak oil issue with the oil industry, and trying to alert Whitehall to it, is that there is a culture of institutional denial in government and the energy industry. As the evidence of an early peak in production unfolds, this becomes increasingly impossible to understand.”
Tuesday 18 th December
Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) will now be required on all house sales since the 14 th . Our homes currently account for about 30% of UK carbon emissions. EPCs could provide a powerful incentive for energy-efficient homes. Comments WWF: “EPCs will act as a trigger to a healthier planet and substantial cash savings for householders. Government must now bolster EPCs with effective financial incentives not only to make improvements in home energy efficiency, but also to generate their own energy.” Specifically, the grants for domestic solar PV which were cut last March should now be fully restored if we are not to see specialist firms going out of business permanently.
Wednesday 19 th December
The Government has announced a consultation on plans to build a third runway and a fifth terminal at Heathrow. FoE calls for the scrapping of these plans.
“Unless we curb the growth in flights, our targets for combatting global warming are unlikely to be met. The Government must include Britain 's share of international aviation and shipping emissions in its new Climate Change Bill, introduce measures to make aviation costs reflect its environmental damage, and invest in alternatives, such as high-speed rail links, to short-haul flights. Some facts:
CO 2 emissions from domestic aviation increased by 7.1% in the year to 2005 while international aviation emissions increased by 5.7%;
Aviation emissions have 2-4 times the climate change impact of carbon emissions alone owing to the complex chemical reactions at altitude;
There are no significant technological innovations that will achieve more than an annual reduction of 1.2% in emissions. Yet passenger numbers are increasing at the rate of 6.4% a year;
An Oxford University study has concluded that it will be impossible to achieve the current 60% carbon reduction by 2050 without curbing aviation growth.
Thursday 20 th December
WWF research has shown that if one in five business travellers in Europe used video conferencing instead of flying to meetings, we could save 22 million tonnes of CO 2 emissions a year. Video conferencing saves businesses time, money and the environment. “It can't replace every flight, but with one in three passengers at Heathrow travelling on business, it could certainly reduce the need for a highly destructive third runway. . . . All the science tells us we need to cut emissions by 80% if we are to avoid dangerous climate change. To achieve this, we have to curb the growth of aviation by including emissions from international aviation and shipping in the climate change Bill. If we don't, we are locking ourselves into a dangerous cycle of spiralling emissions which will make it difficult for the UK to meet its climate change targets.”
Friday 21 st December
A UNEP report on mercury pollution says that coal burning and waste incineration account for about 70% of total quantified emissions of mercury. Mercury is linked to a wide range of health effects including irreversible damage to the human nervous system including the brain. Everyone is thought to have at least trace levels in their tissues. The report urged governments to set clear and ambitious targets to reduce global mercury levels, and suggested that these could include phasing out mercury from products and processes by 2020 and reducing emissions from coal-fired power stations.
Saturday 22 nd December
According to EU estimates, 40-60% of fish caught by North Sea trawlers is dumped back into the sea. WWF believes that increasing cod quotas, or indeed doing away with quotas altogether, will only serve to exploit already dangerously low cod stocks. They believe that a range of management measures is needed to avoid the capture of juveniles:
Seasonal or area closures to protect spawning fish;
Improvements in fishing gear such as the use of square mesh panels in the langoustine fisheries to reduce the capture of cod;
An invention, soon to be trialled in Scottish haddock fisheries, to reduce the capture of cod.
Sunday 23 rd December
Christ our Lord and Saviour, who was once a homeless refugee, we pray today for the millions who are homeless and refugees. We pray for all who are working to provide them with food, water and shelter, and for all who are striving to remove the root causes of displacement – war, poverty, racial violence and environmental disorder. Help us never to forget their plight, but to work actively to support relief organizations and the many individuals who devote their lives to helping refugees.
Monday 24 th December - Christmas Eve
Gracious heavenly Father, our Creator and Sustainer, we thank you today for that little Child who would make us all your children. As we remember his lowly, humble birth, take away our pride. As we remember his pure life, take away our sins. As we remember how he came, not to be ministered unto but to minister, help us to serve more unselfishly, to give more generously and to love more devotedly. Amen. (Leslie Weatherhead)
Tuesday 25 th December - Christmas Day
Lord, we praise and bless you for your wonderful goodness in sending your Son into our soiled and sinful world. Help us to care for it, and for our fellow creatures, as your faithful stewards, knowing that you have touched every part of it with your loving hands. Amen.
Wednesday 26 th December
Helena Norberg-Hodge in a Resurgence article “The Economics of Happiness” reflects on the epidemic of depression now sweeping most industrialised countries. Why? “What we fail to consider are the billions of dollars spent by marketeers, targeting children as young as two, with a goal of instilling the belief that material possessions will ensure them the love and appreciation they crave. The underlying message is: “If you want to be seen, heard, appreciated and loved, you must have the right running shoes, the most fashionable jeans, the latest toys and gadgets,” But the reality is that consumption leads to greater competition and envy, leaving children more isolated, insecure and unhappy, thereby fuelling still more frantic consumption in a vicious cycle. In this way, the global consumer culture taps into the fundamental human need for love and twists it into insatiable greed.”
She concludes: “We can continue down the path of economic globalisation, which at the least will create greater human suffering and environmental problems, and at the worst, threaten our very survival. Or, through localisation, we can begin to rebuild our communities and local economies, the foundations of sustainability and happiness.”
Thursday 27 th December
“Nature Deficit Disorder” is the term coined by Richard Louv to describe the condition of children deprived of contact with the living world. A recent UK study showed that 90% of people suffering from depression experience an increase in self-esteem after a walk in a park. After a visit to a shopping centre, on the other hand, 44% feel a decrease in self-esteem and 22% feel more depressed. Considering that over 31 million prescriptions for anti-depressants were handed out in the UK last year, this is a crucial finding.
“The way forward is simple: it's more time in Nature, more time in situations that give us a sense of community – farmers' markets for example, or developing a relationship with the corner shop where we buy fruit and vegetables. It's not going back to the Stone Age. It's just getting back again to that foundation of connection.” – Kali Wendorf, editor of Kindred Magazine.
Friday 28 th December
Two of this Ashden Award finalists were schools. One of them, Seaton Primary School , has a wind turbine and PV panels with links to display meters in the school hall which show pupils how much electricity the school is using. The swimming pool is heated with solar panels. Pupils monitor energy consumption and report to the school assembly. An energy task force promotes cycling and walking to school and there are studies of weather, climate change and energy use, linked to lessons about everyday behaviour. The school has its own composting area, its own orchard and a greywater collection system to refill its wildlife pond.
“We are proud that we go to a school which is trying to save the planet”, said a pupil.
Saturday 29 th December
UK population projections now show an increase to 70 million by 2028, 77 million by 2051 and over 85 million by 2081. The Optimum Population Trust comments: “This will blow a massive hole in any national climate change strategy, impose huge strains on our infrastructure and environment, seriously damage our quality of life and make Britain one of the most crowded and stressful places in the world. .
The UK is sleepwalking into a population and environment nightmare. At projected household formation rates, a population of 85 million would require over 40 million homes i.e. an additional 15 million. London currently has over 3 million dwellings: we shall therefore need to build five more Londons to cope with the increase. . . If the Government continues to countenance population increases on this scale, it will be embarking on a vast unplanned experiment with Britain 's well-being. We desperately need to start thinking about a population policy, spelling out how many people the UK can support environmentally and what we can do to achieve it.”
Sunday 30 th December
Father, whose patient ways with us and whose unfailing love surprise and humble us, go with us along the unknown paths of this New Year. Forgive the sins of the year that is nearly past. Help us to live more worthily and to serve more faithfully, so that our lives may show forth a new beauty and a deeper harmony, so that your holy Name may be glorified Amen.
Monday 31 st December New Year's Eve
O God, who changes not with the changing years, we, the creatures of Time, look back along the road we have come. We thank you for all your loving kindness and tender mercies along the way. When the road has been dark, you have not failed us, though we have often failed you.
We look forward, knowing not what may befall in the year soon beginning. Help us to live a day at a time, to trust you as much in the shadow as in the sunshine, and to find our way by the light of your will. Go with us, we pray, into this New Year and bring us through it safe in the knowledge that we have been faithful followers of your Son, who is the Way, the Truth and the Light. Amen. (Leslie Weatherhead – adapted)
Sources: A Private House of Prayer by Leslie Weatherhead
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