“Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,
and pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”
“When I pray, I'm like an electric bulb put into its socket, full of light and power.
When I don't pray, I'm like that same electric bulb, disconnected from its socket.
No light and no power.”
“We are treating the planet on which we live as a credit card with no credit limit
and no repayment date.”
( Bishop of Worcester )
Friday 1 st February
“Buy Less, Live More” is the title on the face of a credit card lookalike produced by the Methodist Church as a Lent challenge to remind us to become less consumerist and more generous and fulfilled. The cards – a cogent reminder to think before we spend – are obtainable free via the website www.buylesslivemore.org The daily challenges are available on the website or by email subscription or through a dedicated Facebook group. See also: www.methodist.org.uk
Saturday 2 nd February
Among the Lent courses for 2008 are the following:
“Water for the Journey” produced by Wells for India and obtainable free (but donations welcome) by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
“What on Earth are we doing?” is the Devon Ecumenical Lent Course (2007) obtainable by emailing email@example.com The six talks can since 18 January be listened to by clicking on http://tinyurl.com/2sc26y
“The Earth in Our Hands” 2007 course from Churches Together in All Lincolnshire (CTAL) and BBC Radio Lincolnshire, obtainable from CTAL, Church House, The Old Palace, Lincoln LN2 1PU
“Live Life, Love Lent2” consists of booklets containing 50 simple things to do (one a day) during Lent. There are children's editions and adult editions. These are the 2008 edition. The 2007 edit It has been adopted by the Archbishops. They are obtainable from all Christian bookshops at £1 each. http://www.livelent.net
Sunday 3 rd February
Spirit of God, set at rest the crowded, hurrying thoughts within our minds and hearts.
Let the peace and quiet of your presence take hold of us.
Help us to relax, to rest, to become open and receptive to you. You know our inmost thoughts, the hidden unconscious life within us, the forgotten memories of hurts and fears, the frustrated desires, the unresolved tensions and dilemmas.
Cleanse and sweeten the springs of our being, that freedom, life and love may flow into both our conscious and our hidden life.
Lord, we lie open before you, waiting for your healing, your peace and your word.
Monday 4 th February
A study commissioned by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection and published online in the International Journal of Cancer has found clusters of blood or bone marrow cancer among children under 5 living near nuclear power stations. Children living within 2.3 miles of a nuclear power station were 2.19 times more likely to have the disease than those living outside that limit. Those living within 6.2 miles were 33% more likely to get the disease. Comments Richard Bramhall of the Low Level Radiation Campaign ( www.llrc.org ) “This is the latest in a long line of such findings, including the notorious Seascale cluster. Wind power does not kill our children.” Furthermore, every £ invested in nuclear energy is a £ less available for renewable energy.
Tuesday 5 th February
Following the Government announcement of plans to expand nuclear energy, three CEL members handed in symbolic gifts to No. 10 Downing Street:
George Marshall's rousing book “Carbon De-Tox” with CEL's briefing “Faith and Power”;
A piece of home insulation, symbolising energy efficiency;
A solar-powered light, representing the opportunity for a vast escalation in Government investment in renewables that would not only fulfil Britain 's duty to the earth in terms of climate change, but also lead the world towards a truly sustainable way of living.
Roy Tindle of the Claverton Energy Group of over 150 energy scientists and economists believes that a united front is needed in the face of John Hutton's statement that “The idea that Britain can meet its growing power needs through renewable energy and greater efficiency is nonsense.” One would like to ask where he thinks we shall turn when accessible uranium deposits run out in less than 40 years and fast breeder reactors are proved uneconomical.
Wednesday 6 th February Ash Wednesday
We thank you, Father, for those days in the desert when, through prayer and fasting, Jesus discovered your will for his life and overcame the temptations of the Evil One. Help us, during these days of Lent, to come close to you and to listen to your voice. Give us strength to overcome all temptation to please ourselves and to live our lives without reference to you.
Teach us Your Way, for Jesus' sake. Amen. (Alternative Service Book 1980)
Thursday 7 th February
The European Food Safety Authority, while admitting that cloned animals suffer higher rates of early death and disease, nevertheless says there is no food safety reason to keep meat and milk from cloned animals off shop shelves. This would open the door to clone farming in Britain and the import of US products made from cloned meat and milk – despite the clear desire of consumers for more natural food. Supermarkets would find it impossible to identify cloned products. The Soil Association comments: “Cloning involves ghastly and invasive techniques.” Compassion in World Farming said: “Going down the road of cloning would lead to greater industrialisation of farm animal production, which would be a disaster.” The only winners would be the handful of multi-national food corporations such as Cargill.
Friday 8 th February
The Riau province of Sumatra includes 4 million hectares of peatlands which contain the highest concentration of stored carbon per hectare anywhere in the world – the equivalent of one year's global carbon emissions. Riau also contains a quarter of Indonesia 's palm oil plantations. Another 3 million hectares are earmarked for conversion to palm oil plantations Despite Indonesian government assurances and industry claims, Greenpeace investigations show that palm oil companies are continuing to destroy natural forest and drain and burn deep peat – despite the fact that major players such as Cargill, Nestle and Unilever are members of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. By driving the expansion of oil palm, these companies are effectively holding the world's climate to ransom. What needs to be done?
The Indonesian Government needs to introduce a moratorium on forest and peatland conversion to palm oil plantations and prioritise the protection of remaining peat swamps.
Industry needs to refuse to trade with those engaged in deforestation and peatland degradation.
Saturday 9 th February
Around 3 billion tonnes of carbon is stored in British peatlands – more than the forests of Britain and France put together. Yet since 1976 there have been more than 350 wildfires on Peak District moors alone, leaving bare peat, which soon erodes, releasing dissolved organic carbon into streams and gullies. Around 40% of this is released into the atmosphere. Staff of Moors for the Future ( www.moorsforthefuture.org ) have been spreading heather brash to protect peatlands exposed by fires and assisting re-vegetation. Yet raising the water table is equally important as peatlands should act as a sponge to prevent flash-flooding in low-lying areas such as York . The Northumbria Regional Flood Defence Committee funds a Peatscape project ( www.northpennines.org.uk ) whereby drainage ditches are dammed using peat blocks either cut by hand or using a low-impact digger. The work is slow and costly. The Government is not obliged to account for soil carbon losses as part of its current emissions total, so no funding is available for this vital work.
Sunday 10 th February
Father, we have not been good stewards of your world. We confess and repent of the ways in which we have misused your creation. Forgive us for our exploitation of animals, those given to provide us with food, those who work for us and those we keep as pets. Teach us to treat them with compassion, care and dignity as forming, like ourselves, part of your wonderful creation.
Monday 11 th February
Forest destruction, according to the Stern Report, will release more carbon into the atmosphere in the next four years than every flight from the dawn of aviation until 2025. Burning forests send vast swathes of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Once they are gone, they can no longer soak up the carbon emitted from man-made sources such as industry, cars and power plants. No technical fixes are needed to stop the destruction. We just have to make trees worth more when they are standing than when they are felled. How to achieve this by international agreement, and then enforce it in remote regions of Africa , Brazil and Indonesia , is the greatest challenge any politician can face, but it will ensure lasting fame for anyone who takes this on and wins.
Tuesday 12 th February
Both China and India are heavily reliant on coal-fired power stations to meet the growing demand for energy. Yet while the USA itself plans to build over 150 coal-fired plants, other nations are understandably reluctant to curtail their plans. India already imports 70% of its oil requirements. Now it plans to replace its entire diesel consumption with biodiesel from the seeds of the jatropha plant. Last year the UK company D1 Oil, after planting 156,000 hectares of jatropha, has gone into a £160 million partnership with BP to plant a million hectares of jatropha, mostly in India . India 's Energy Resource Institute has found that half the 60 million hectares classified as wasteland would be suitable for jatropha cultivation. Critics say the jatropha industry will gobble up vast tracts of land now used to grow food. Others say the jatropha should be intercropped with food crops, so providing irrigation for both. Also, its cuttings can be burned as biomass and the cake by-product makes a good quality soap. The seeds can be burned in lamps as a clean substitute for kerosene, which is heavily subsidised by the government because it is most people's only light source.
Wednesday 13 th February
In a report called “Are Biofuels Sustainable?” the Environmental Audit Committee raises concerns about the absence of mechanisms to prevent destruction of rainforests in order to grow biofuel crops. It calls for a moratorium on targets for the use of biofuels and for Government to concentrate on sustainable biofuels such as waste vegetable oil and the development of second-generation biofuel technologies. “Government must ensure that its biofuels policy balances greenhouse gas emission cuts with wider environmental impacts, so that biofuels are only used where they contribute to sustainable emissions reductions.” The EU Energy Commissioner disagreed with these conclusions, but added “We share the committee's concerns that biofuels have to be sustainable, and the new directive for the promotion of renewable energy sources aims to ensure this.”
Thursday 14 th February
Brazil 's use of sugarcane to produce biofuel has been such a success that it now supplies 30% of the world's biofuels. But William Dar, director of the International Crops Research Institute for Semi-Arid Tropics, sounds a note of caution. “Large-scale planting of jatropha is risky since few scientific details are known about it. More research is needed into the environmental impact of large-scale biomass production, especially for countries in Africa , where the risk is high that commercial incentives for rushing into biofuels could lead to corners being cut on environmental considerations, as has happened so often in the past.”
Friday 15 th February
India 's Planning Commission reckons the country will need to quadruple its primary energy supply and increase its electricity supply by 5-7 times by 2025 if it is to feed its growing economy and population. Sir Nicholas Stern believes the key lies in cleaning up its noxious and wasteful coal industry and in energy efficiency. He argues for scrapping the hefty subsidies on kerosene and LPG in order to promote renewables. In West Bengal the scrapping of the kerosene subsidy has brought solar energy to thousands of people living on Sagar Island and there are plans to extend the scheme. Meanwhile, the UN Clean Development Mechanism has been modified to allow coal-fired plants which adopt clean coal technologies to sell carbon offsets and, in time, to introduce carbon capture and storage.
Saturday 16 th February
“Christians Together on Climate Change” is the title of an event taking place today (9.30 to 4) at Greyfriars Church , Reading. Aiming to help Christians in the Thames Valley to make a difference, the event is sponsored by the Diocese of Oxford, the Methodist Church , Operation Noah, Tearfund, A Rocha, Christian Aid and Sage. To book a place, call Helen Keely on 01895 208214 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 17 th February
Father, we thank you for the provision you have made for our bodily needs. We thank you for the skills which, passed down from one generation to another, enable us to harvest the earth's resources. We thank you for those who enable these gifts to be channelled into areas of need. We pray that you will raise up many others willing and eager to share your gifts for the benefit of all.
Monday 18 th February
According to DETR figures based on the UNFCCC methodology, the UK has already reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 12.5% since 1990. Unfortunately, according to Dieter Helm of New College, Oxford , in his paper “The UK's Climate Change Record”, this ignores international trade, shipping and aviation. For example, does the manufacture and use of fireworks made in China count as part of China 's carbon footprint or ours? The exclusion of imports from the UK carbon footprint is misleading. Helm identifies three policy implications:
The UK should check its progress and base its calculations on its worldwide carbon emissions, not just on emissions within the UK ;
With a substantial part of its greenhouse gas emissions occurring in China and other trade partners, the UK itself is partly responsible for the rapid growth of emissions in those countries, and this should affect future international greenhouse gas targets;
If Britain wishes to substantiate its claim to leadership in the global climate change debate, it needs a more aggressive policy to reduce greenhouse gas consumption.
Tuesday 19 th February
According to the WWF Living Planet report, India ranks third behind the USA and China in terms of the resources used to sustain its population and absorb its waste. While it has 16% of the world's population, it has only 1% of the world's forests and only 2.2% of its land mass. Therefore it is one of the world's biggest importers of wood products and so is responsible for much of the deforestation in Latin America and South-East Asia . WWF aims to persuade Indian companies to source their wood and pulp more sustainably, though consumer pressure to do this may take years. “Our message to companies” says WWF-India's Dr Manoharan, “is that footprint reduction doesn't necessarily mean less consumption. It just means, for example, that you don't convert high value forests to grow palm oil.”
Wednesday 20 th February
A new report from environmental economist David Fleming examines the lifetime costs of nuclear energy. He refers to figures from the International Energy Agency which show that growth in nuclear power would lead to a shortage of uranium by 2020 – just when the Government's planned new nuclear plants would be coming on stream. Fleming calculates that, taking into account the energy needed to extract, purify and supply uranium, as well as that needed to build, run and decommission a power station, the nuclear industry would need to divert all its energy to cleaning up its waste by about 2025. If the industry postponed the task beyond 2025, its global legacy would be that it had consumed more (fossil) energy than it ultimately gave us. He called for action to deal with nuclear waste while there was still energy enough to do so.
Thursday 21 st February
When local authorities began to recognise that traffic in our streets was a problem, a new breed of specialists – traffic engineers – were called in to deal with it. So public spaces were increasingly engineered to be roads for cars, not people. More traffic signs, road paint, chicanes, road humps and flashing lights were the chosen solution. With every new sign, zebra crossing and traffic calming device, the message is reinforced that public space is primarily for cars, and the quality of community life is further diminished. Yet in Denmark and Holland , where all segregation devices have been removed, so that pedestrians, cyclists and cars share a common space, a UNICEF survey has found Dutch children to be the happiest in the rich world, while annual surveys by the European Commission have ranked Danish citizens as its most contented. Colombia, after huge investment in public parks and play areas, and now the introduction of car-free Sundays, has seen the homicide rate in Bogota drop by a quarter since 1993. Philip Parker, the civil engineer who researched the subject, admits that to reverse 40 years of conditioning to the idea that streets are primarily conduits for the passage of traffic is a major task, but now is the time for local communities to take charge of their own local spaces and demand change.
Friday 22 nd February
There are now 32 Transition Towns in Britain and over 200 more seeking recognition as Transition Towns committed to promoting local actions to deal with the effects of Peak Oil and Climate Change. The aim of all of them is to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and our carbon footprint. The methods of achieving this include:
Mobilising community action
Raising awareness, providing information and empowering action
Networking with groups and people already engaged with these issues
Setting up projects to reduce our carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels
Creating a plan for the future – an Energy Descent Plan.
Co-operation with local authorities is a key part of the strategy. For more information, visit: www.transitiontowns.org
Saturday 23 rd February
The Climate Change and Sustainability Act 2006 gave parish councils powers to encourage energy efficiency, micro-generation of electricity and the use of biomass. Few have used these powers. Kirkburton near Huddersfield has however adopted a plan to reduce the carbon footprint of community buildings, using £10,000 a year raised through the parish council precept. The village hall now has an efficient heating system and the insulation has been brought up to modern standards. Now they are looking at installing a PV array and working with housing providers to install renewable energy in new housing. Councillor Andrew Cooper hopes the plan will be used as a template for thousands of parish councils across the country and help make
community centres more sustainable in both financial and environmental terms.
Sunday 24 th February
Save us, Father, from over-reliance on human ingenuity 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 was willing to give your Son for us and for our salvation.
Monday 25 th February
An open letter to the Government from four leading scientists, Sir John Lawton chair of the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, Sir Tom Blundell the former chair, Sir John Houghton and Professor Norman Myers, explains the necessity of cutting the UK 's CO 2 emissions by at least 80% by 2050 as against the Government's target of a 60% cut. “The UK has always been proud of its leadership on the issue of climate change. To keep in the lead, the Government needs to keep in step with the science that is now strongly pointing towards cuts of at least 80% by 2050 if we are to mitigate against dangerous climate change.” A recent report from WWF, RSPB and IPPR called “80% Challenge: Delivering a low carbon Britain” found that it is technically feasible and affordable for the UK to cut its CO 2 emissions by at least 80% by 2050 – including our share of international aviation emissions, and without using new nuclear power. Alternative solutions lie in energy efficiency and a rapid roll-out of renewable and decentralised energy, potentially combined with fossil fuel power stations equipped with working carbon capture and storage technology.
Tuesday 26 th February
The EU requires Britain to generate 15% of its total energy (electricity, heat and transport) from renewables by 2020. Because there is less scope for using renewables for heat and transport, this means that around 40% of our electricity will have to come from renewable sources. According to Greenpeace this target is “entirely achievable”. With the best renewable resources anywhere in Europe and engineers and entrepreneurs prepared to put their best efforts into the task, the so-called “energy gap” caused by the closure of old nuclear, gas and coal plants can be more than filled by the development of renewables. But the Government needs to give its full support to the engineers and entrepreneurs who can make a clean energy revolution happen. “For too long nay-saying civil servants in the Department for Business have held sway, denying that delivering clean energy is possible.”
Wednesday 27 th February
As Canada , Russia , Denmark and Norway scramble for a share in the Arctic 's resources of fossil fuels, a new WWF report warns that oil spills in the Arctic are more devastating than elsewhere because of the unique marine environment. It identifies a “response gap” as the period of time required for a response to an oil spill could become effective. “The only way to avoid the potentially devastating environmental impact of an oil spill is to ensure that no more of the Arctic is opened up to oil development until the “response gap” is closed. The fact that a catastrophic spill might exceed the operating limits of existing response technologies is a strong argument for a moratorium until the “response gap” is filled”.
Thursday 28 th February
Officials from London and Paris became the joint winners of the 2008 Sustainable Transport Award at a ceremony in Washington DC . Referring to all the short-listed cities, Dr. Walter Hook, director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, said: “All these cities took politically risky decisions that made a huge contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making their cities more liveable.” London is the biggest city to adopt congestion pricing, which has resulted in a fall in CO 2 emissions of 16% since it was introduced and an increase in bus use of 45%. Ken Livingstone said: “We shall be making the whole of Greater London a “Clean Air – Low Emission Zone” from February 4 th , effectively banning the most polluting lorries from our roads.” Paris has revolutionised bike-sharing programmes with its Velib (Freedom Bikes) system, allowing people to rent bikes for a low fee and to return them to any bike parking station across the city. The authorities are also renovating public squares and plazas and widening sidewalks to encourage pedestrian traffic, building more bike lines and opening lanes for a new bus rapid transit system.
Friday 29 th February
Norway has introduced a total ban on the use of mercury in the manufacture, import and export of products. This follows several other European nations, including France , which have also banned the use of mercury. The chairman of the Irish Doctors Environmental Association said that there needs to be a campaign to raise awareness about the use of this potentially-harmful metal, which is still commonly used in thermometers and sphygmomanometers. Once mercury is released into the environment, it can change into its more toxic form, methylmercury.
Some sources: Green Futures
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