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CEL home > Resources > Prayer Guide index to months > April 2008

CHRISTIAN ECOLOGY LINK:-
A PRAYER GUIDE for
THE CARE OF CREATION
April 2008

          

“God said to Noah and his sons: I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants.

Never again will all life be cut off by the waters of a flood:

never again will there be a flood to destroy the earth.” (Gen. 9.8-11)

 

”I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt . . .

For two years now there has been famine in the land and

for the next five years there will not be ploughing and reaping.

But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth

and to save your lives by a great deliverance.” (Gen. 45.4-7)

 

“These stories teach us that prophets of climate change must be heeded with a change of heart leading to prudent and responsible action to mitigate disaster. Without a change of heart and a new sense of humility before the forces of this wondrous planet, we will not be able to achieve the transformation that is needed if planetary melt-down is to be averted.”    (Michael Northcott)

 

Tuesday 1 st April

Modern agriculture is heavily reliant on fossil fuels. We use natural gas to make fertilisers. We use oil to fuel farm machinery and to power irrigation pumps, as a feedstock for pesticides and herbicides, in drying crops for storage and for transport of farm inputs and outputs. Agriculture accounts for 17% of America 's energy consumption. Yet global oil production is expected to peak around 2010, after which there will be a slow decline, but with a devastating effect on oil prices as countries increasingly stockpile supplies. Attempts to make up the shortfall by substituting biofuels will put even more pressure on food supplies. Already 14% of the US corn crops is devoted to biofuels and that proportion is projected to rise to 25%. So far most governments do not publicly recognise any problem. Yet anyone can see that some method of rationing, possibly by carbon allowances, is inevitable.

 

Wednesday 2 nd April

The abundance of oil has led to a shortage of skilled farmers as surplus farm workers migrate to the cities. The average age of US farmers is nearer 60 than 50, while the proportion of farmers under 35 has dropped from 15.9% in 1981 to 5.8% in 2002. Today so few people farm that vital knowledge of how to farm is fast disappearing. With less oil and gas available, we shall need much more knowledge and muscle power devoted to producing the food we all need.

 

Thursday 3 rd April

In many parts of the world there is an increasing scarcity of fresh water. For example, California 's Central Valley , which produces most of America 's fruit, nuts and vegetables, receives no rainfall during the summer and relies overwhelmingly on irrigation. But there is less snow on the mountains, while the aquifers that largely supply the irrigation water are being depleted at many times the recharge rate. For less wealthy countries that rely on irrigation – Egypt , Pakistan and northern China come to mind – the prospects are even worse.

 

Friday 4 th April

Richard Heinberg in “Peak Everything” believes that we can and must de-industrialise agriculture. Cuba since 1990 has shown the way. After oil imports from the former Soviet Union dried up, Cuba broke up its large state-owned farms, introduced farm co-ops and markets and began breeding oxen for animal traction. Cubans adopted a largely vegetarian diet and urban gardens sprang up throughout the towns and cities. Today these produce up to 80% of vegetables consumed in the cities. Every college and university introduced courses in agronomy, while farmers' wages were raised to parity with engineers' and doctors'. Cubans lost an average of 20 lbs. in body weight, but gained in overall health. There are no luxuries, but everyone has enough to eat. For details of the experiment, view the DVD “The Power of Community”.

 

Saturday 5 th April

A pre-requisite of Cuba 's success was that its academics had already devised a plan to re-design the entire food system. Britain had its own “Dig for Victory” campaign during World War II. Today, the Permaculture Movement devised by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren aims “to mimic the patterns and relationships of nature, while yielding an abundance of food, fibre and energy for local needs.” Its strategies include mulching, rainwater harvesting using earthworks such as swales, composting and the integration of aquaculture, horticulture and small-scale animal operations. A typical farm may produce a small cash crop, but concentrates largely on self-sufficiency and soil building. But most Permaculture practitioners recognise that these methods will eventually fail us unless we also limit demand for food by gradually and humanely limiting the size of the human population.

Sunday 6 th April

Loving Father, we thank you for giving us so much to enjoy in your world. We do not understand why nature sometimes seems so cruel and harsh, and why people suffer from floods, earthquakes and man-made disasters in this your world. Help us to trust in your promises and to rest in the certainty that not even the smallest sparrow lies outside your loving care. Help us to do all in our power to relieve suffering and make us willing and eager to share the good things you have given us, for the benefit of all.

 

Monday 7 th April

Rob Hopkins in “The Transition Handbook” points out that the influential Hirsch Report argues that we can mitigate Peak Oil with a crash programme of squeezing oil out of everything we can lay our hands on – tar sands, coal-to-liquids, gas-to-liquids and so on – regardless of their carbon emissions. The Stern Report, by contrast, argues that carbon reduction and economic growth are compatible with one another, but it completely ignores Peak Oil, with the amazing assertion that ”there is enough fossil fuel in the ground to meet world consumption demand at reasonable cost until at least 2050.” For Rob Hopkins “facing runaway climate change with a collapsed economy is the scenario we really want to avoid, and we separate these two issues at our peril.”

 

Tuesday 8 th April

“Peak Oil” is defined as “the point when further expansion of oil production becomes impossible because new production is fully offset by declines in production elsewhere.” 1981 was the year when, according to the Association for Peak Oil, the gap between oil discovery and oil production began to widen. It has now reached the point where we consume about four barrels of oil for every one that we discover. Furthermore, since January 2005 world oil production has stayed at between 84 and 86 million barrels a day. In the same period oil prices have risen and broke through the $100 barrier this January. The world economy desperately wants to increase consumption. Its inability to keep up with burgeoning demand is an indicator that it is geology, rather than politics or economics, that is playing the key role.

 

Wednesday 9 th April

In 2000 the UK truck drivers' dispute over petrol prices brought the economy to the brink of collapse. The Chairman of Sainsbury's, Sir Peter Davis, wrote to the Prime Minister that food shortages would appear “in days rather than weeks.” The Government caved in and Britain 's exposure to oil prices became glaringly obvious, making nonsense of DEFRA's 2003 statement that “national food security is neither necessary nor desirable.” As the old saying goes “Civilisation is only three meals deep.” Western Europe (apart from Sweden) has relentlessly reduced its resilience to oil shocks, and only in Eastern Europe is resilience a central part of people's lives. Resilience is central to the purpose of the Transition Towns movement. It is “the capacity of a system to absorb disturbance and reorganise while undergoing change, so as to retain the same function, structure, identity and feedbacks.”

 

Thursday 10 th April

Since the 1940s around 100,000 small shops have closed, and every year their numbers drop by 10%. Between 1995 and 2000, independent fresh food outlets – including bakers, butchers, fishmongers and grocers – saw their sales drop by 40% as supermarkets consolidated their grip on the food retail industry. Last year the Northern Rock crisis was caused by over-lending in the US thousands of miles away, showing how, in globalised networks, one system can knock on to another, with potentially disastrous effects. Yet recent history has demonstrated that this need not be so.

 

Friday 11 th April

From today until Sunday lunchtime the 2 nd annual Transition Network Conference meets at the Royal Agricultural College , Cirencester. Opened by Caroline Lucas MEP, it aims:

•  To help networking with international transitioners from eight countries;

•  To spread the art, craft and techniques of transition across a broad spectrum of community activity;

•  To help people run Open Space meetings and World Café sessions;

•  To help shape the Transition Network as we embark on another year of intense growth.

The Transition Network aims to find local solutions to the challenges of Peak Oil and Climate Change. There are 32 Transition communities now up and running in the UK alone, with another 300-plus working towards recognition. Booking details: 05601 531882 or visit www.transitiontowns.org

 

Saturday 12 th April

At Church House, New Church Road, Hove today from 10.30 to 1 there is a meeting of the Church and Environment Group of the dioceses of Chichester and Arundel & Brighton on “Transition Towns - How we can plan the transition to scarce oil and changing climate”. The speaker, Oliver Dudok van Heel, is a consultant on sustainable businesses who is also a member of Transition Town Lewes, which is part of a nationwide network of Transition Towns. For details and booking ring Helen Swire on 012373-421021 or email: justice-and-peace@dabnet.org

 

Sunday 13 th April

God our Father, prayer is a mystery. We do not understand how it works or how our feeble petitions reach you, the Creator of the Universe. We only know that Jesus prayed and opened the way into your presence. Help us to follow His example and His teaching, and to learn to pray as we breathe – more naturally, more readily and more often, and always in His Name. (Llewellyn Cumings)


Monday 14 th April

Today at 7.45 pm there is an open meeting of Leeds CEL Group at St. Chad's Parish Hall, Otley Road, Far Headingley, Leeds LS16 5JT. It is an opportunity to meet with green Christians and to find out more about campaigns involving Operation Noah, Climate Change, LOAF, Ecoteams, EcoCongregations, Wildlife, Biodiversity, Tree Planting, Mobile Phone Masts, Energy Efficiency and Transport. For more information email: leeds@christian-ecology.org.uk

 

Tuesday 15 th April

The World Food Programme has appealed for at least $500 million to help provide food aid to 73 million needy people in the face of spiralling costs of wheat, rice and corn. The WFP Director Josette Sheeran, said: “People are simply being priced out of food markets. We have never before had a situation where aggressive rises in food prices keep pricing our operations out of reach.” In the 6 months to March 1 st food prices rose by 55%, meaning that it needed an extra $500 million on top of the $2.9 billion already budgeted for. However, in the first 3 weeks of March prices rose a further 20%, meaning that the emergency shortfall could be closer to $700 million. Among the reasons given for the spike in prices are:

•  Increased demand for food from newly-prosperous parts of south and east Asia;

•  Damage to crops from natural disasters;

•  Growing demand for biofuels.

 

“It's a global problem which is hitting the most vulnerable populations hardest.”

 

Wednesday 16 th April

Professor John Beddington, the Government's new Chief Scientific Adviser, said in his first public speech: “It is hard to imagine how we can see the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous increase in the demand for food . . . Price rises in staples such as rice, wheat and maize will continue because of increased demand caused by population growth and increasing wealth in developing nations . . . Climate change will lead to pressure on food supplies because of decreased rainfall in many areas and crop failures related to climate. The agriculture industry needs to double its food production, using less water than today . . . The biofuel industry has delivered a major shock to world food prices. It is vital that biofuels are grown sustainably. The idea that you cut down rainforest to grow biofuels seems profoundly stupid . . .

Global grain stores are currently at their lowest levels ever, just 40 days from running out.”

 

Thursday 17 th April

At the same conference the Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, said that the world's population was expected to grow from 6.2 billion today to 9.5 billion in less than 50 years' time. He asked: “How are we going to feed everybody?” but received no answer.

In 1936 the Government set up one committee to prepare a scheme of food rationing and another to propose commodities to be given priority in a food storage programme. In 1940 it set up 467 local committees to re-orientate the nation's agriculture. By 1944 the land under cultivation had risen from 12.9 million acres to 19.8 million, food production had risen by 91%, while local horticultural committees were advising people on how to grow food and how to practise thrift and economy. Allotments and back gardens were producing only 10% of the nation's diet, but that 10% consisted mainly of the fruit and vegetables that kept most of the nation healthy. Petrol rationing initially restricted cars to 1,800 miles a year for non-essential uses, gradually reducing until in 1942 individual allowances were abolished. Between 1938 and 1944 there was a 95% drop in car use.

 

Friday 18 th April

Colin Tudge in his rather optimistically titled book “Feeding People is Easy” points out that 50% of the world's wheat and barley is fed to livestock, in addition to 80% of its maize and well over 90% of its soya. By 2050, on present trends, when the human population reaches 9.5 billion, the world's livestock will be consuming enough good grain and pulses to feed another 4 billion – roughly equivalent to the total human population in the early 1970s, when the UN held its first Food Conference in Rome to discuss what it saw as a global food crisis.

 

Saturday 19 th April

Today at the Church Army Training Centre in Sheffield , a workshop is to be held from 9.30 to 1 to try out A Rocha's Planetwise Environmental Resource Pack compiled by Dave Bookless. After a lively interactive session, participants should be equipped to use the pack to plan a service or event. A similar workshop will take place on Saturday April 26 th at the Trinity Theological College , Bristol . To book a place, ring 020 8574 5935.

 

Sunday 20 th April

Dear Father, we thank you for this lovely world which you have given us to look after. Teach us how to conserve your handiwork and to protect your creation against the assaults of money and power. Help us to prepare for the day when finite resources such as oil, gas, coal and uranium can no longer support the world. Show us how to devote our time and resources to restoring what has gone amiss and to preparing for a very different future.

 

Monday 21 st April

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD), in its report “Environmental Outlook to 2030”, projects a further increase of 37% in emissions of greenhouse gases to 2030 and 52% to 2050, resulting in an increase in global temperature of up to 2.4 0 C. and leading to increased heat waves, droughts, storms and floods, with resulting severe damage to key infrastructure and crops. Food and biofuel production will require a further 10% increase in farmland with a further loss of wildlife habitat. Water scarcity due to unsustainable use and climate change will increase the number of people affected by severe water stress by another 1 billion to over 3.9 billion. Some of the key environmental challenges can be addressed, the report claims, at a cost of just over 1% of world GDP in 2030 or about 0.03% lower average annual GDP growth up to 2030. As regards the UK, the Daily Express singles out government plans to build 3 million more homes by 2020, over 500,000 of which will be in the most drought-threatened and overcrowded areas, and points to the growing human population and increasing demand for water as seriously threatening future water supplies.


Tuesday 22 nd April

A team of 20 scientists from the US, Canada and UK has published in “Science” a map of human impacts on the world's oceans from 17 different human sources. It shows that only about 4% of the world's oceans remain undamaged by human activity. Climate change, fishing, pollution and other human factors have exacted a heavy toll on nearly half the world's marine environment. Only remote icy areas near the poles are relatively pristine, but they face threats as ice sheets melt. Co-author Dr Mark Spalding commented: “The map is an impetus for action. It is a real signal to roll up our sleeves and start managing our coasts and oceans.”

 

Wednesday 23 rd April

12,000 tons of crude oil leaked into the sea off Korea 's west coast after a collision between a supertanker and a barge. 60 miles of coastline south of the capital Seoul have been devastated, leading the Government to declare a state of disaster. Large amounts of sea creatures such as oysters, crabs and octopuses are believed to have been killed. The Government says the oil spill destroyed the livelihoods of about 40,000 households and polluted 300 km. of shorelines, 101 islands, 15 beaches and 35,000 hectares of fish farms. Our addiction to oil continues to exact a heavy toll on God's creation.

 

Thursday 24 th April

How, in President George Bush's phrase, can we end our “addiction to oil”? One method of ending addiction to, for example, heroin might be to take as a substitute methadone, cigarettes, beer, coffee and chewing gum. The most likely outcome would be an added dependency on these substances. Similarly, to resort to alternative fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel, or liquids from coal or natural gas is likely to lead to an added dependency on these alternatives without any reduction in oil consumption.

 

Richard Heinberg and others have suggested an internationally-agreed Oil Depletion Protocol, whereby oil-importing countries would reduce their imports by the world oil depletion rate (calculated by the petroleum geologist Colin Campbell at 2.5% a year) while oil producers would reduce their domestic production by their oil depletion rate. For details of the proposal see Heinberg's book “The Oil Depletion Protocol: A Plan to Avert Oil Wars.”

 

Friday 25 th April

 

“Ladies and gentlemen, I have stumbled across the single technology which will save us from runaway climate change, which I offer to you free. No patents, no small print, no hidden clauses. Already this technology, a radical new kind of capture and storage, is causing a stir among scientists. It is cheap, it is efficient and it can be deployed straight away. It is called . . . leaving fossil fuels in the ground.”

(George Monbiot in “Heat”)

 

Saturday 26 th April

A key part of Transition Town initiatives is the working out of an Energy Descent Action Plan (EDAP) on a local basis. It sets out a vision of a powered-down, resilient, relocalised future, and then backcasts in a series of practical steps, creating a map for getting from here to there. Energy descent is an issue which affects every aspect of our lives – food, tourism, economics, education and much else. The first step is to establish a baseline. What is your community's energy consumption, its food miles, the amount of food consumed, the amount of arable land available, the number of cars that come and go daily etc.? The local council will have much of this information and will need to be brought into the planning at an early stage.

 

Sunday 27 th April

 

Lord God, when thou givest to thy servants any great matter, grant us also to know that it is not the beginning but the continuing of the same until it be thoroughly finished which yieldeth the true glory, through him that for the finishing of thy work laid down his life, even thy Son, Jesus Christ.

(Sir Francis Drake)

 

Monday 28 th April

 

“The Final Call: In Search of the True Cost of our Holidays” by Leo Hickman asks two questions: “Just where are we tourists heading, both literally and metaphorically? And are we content with the implications?” From Spanish costas to Alpine resorts, Caribbean cruising waters and Arabian deserts, he finds marginalized local people, depletion of natural resources (particularly water), sex tourism and marine pollution on a massive scale. “A typical cruise ship produces the same amount of emissions as 12,000 cars”. “The annual water consumption of a typical golf course could reach 1 million cubic litres – the same as a town with 12,000 inhabitants.” “A jumbo jet flying from London to Dubai emits 180 tonnes of CO 2 – equivalent to the lifestyle-related emissions of 18 UK citizens over a whole year.”

 

Yet tourism can be a force for good. For example, homestays in Kerala can benefit both visitors and local communities while socially-inclusive tourism in Costa Rica can be a winning formula for small-scale luxury holidays. More radically, he suggests self-rationing of long-haul flights and the introduction of tourist quotas on a lottery-based system to limit the number of visitors to sensitive areas. Every holiday, like everything else, should include a carbon cost embedded in its price tag.

 

Tuesday 29 th April

 

Churches Together in Bath are holding a Climate Change debate today at 7.30 in the Abbey with a panel which includes Dr. Martin Palmer of the Alliance of Religions & Conservation, Andrew Pendleton of Christian Aid, Mary Colwell, BBC Natural History producer and Sarah Pugh of Transition Bristol. There will be a discussion about how Bath can move towards being an ‘eco city' after the example of Transition Towns Bristol and Totnes. Entrance free.

 

Also today Chichester Diocesan Evangelical Fellowship invites participants to a morning session on “Caring for God's creation: a biblical perspective” at All Saints Church, Lindfield RH16 2HS. The main speakers are Dr Elaine Storkey, theologian and broadcaster, and Dave Bookless, Director of A Rocha and author of “Planetwise”. For details email Peter Markby: petermarkby@onetel.com

 

Wednesday 30 th April

 

“Our infrastructure, our transportation, our fuel mix, our agriculture crucially, everything is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. It will take a while to get out of it, but the quicker we start, the sooner we'll do it, but also the more orderly the transition will be. If we start now and begin to decarbonise, with all the technology we now have, from the bicycle to concentrating solar power, we need to get it moving and into the market fast, so that we can start the process while we still have the economic stability and the money and social comfort to do this without even noticing it.” (Tony Juniper on Peak Oil and Climate Change)

 

 

 

 

 

Sources: “Peak Everything” by Richard Heinberg (Clairview)
“The Transition Handbook” by Rob Hopkins (Green Books)
“Feeding People is Easy” by Colin Tudge (Pari Publishing)
“A Moral Climate” by Michael Northcott (DLT)
“Planetwise” by Dave Bookless (Inter-Varsity Press)
Resurgence
www.edie.net
www.coolearth.org
www.wwf.org

For further information and requests for prayer, please write or email:

Philip Clarkson Webb, 15 Valley View, Southborough, Tunbridge Wells TN4 0SY Email: pcw@christian-ecology.org.uk Website: www.christian-ecology.org.uk

 

Christian Ecology Link Ltd is a company registered in England and Wales . Registered address: 3 Bond Street , Lancaster LA21 3ER. Company Registration No. 2445198 Registered Charity No. 328744. tel: +44 (0)1524 36241 info@christian-ecology.org.uk  

 

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For further information and prayer request please email: pcw@christian-ecology.org.uk
or write to:-
Philip Clarkson Webb
15 Valley View
Southborough
Tunbridge Wells
Kent TN4 OSY

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