“You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being.” (Rev. 4.11)
“Whoever loves money never has enough: whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” (Eccles. 5.10)
Then (Jesus) said to them: “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12.15)
“We cannot have a sound society unless we have a sufficient number of men and women who cannot be bought – unpurchasable people.” (Professor W.E. Hocking)
“Jesus Christ specialises in producing such unpurchasable people . . . because he transforms them from within and reminds them of the need to be ‘rich towards God' .” (Selwyn Hughes)
Sunday 1 st June
O God, we know we live in an acquisitive society, where worth tends to be judged by wealth. Yet we are followers of you. Please deliver us from all false values and false gods. May all our decisions be Christlike ones, no matter how strange they may appear to others. Amen.
Monday 2 nd June
Carbon sinks such as forests are vastly important for absorbing some of the 7 billion tons (7 gigatons) of carbon that we throw up into the atmosphere each year. The Amazon rainforest draws in about half a gigaton, yet deforestation is adding about the same amount to human-based carbon emissions, so reducing its net absorptive capacity to nil. Brazil 's Environment Minister, Marina Silva, has for five years been a lonely voice in government but now, in resigning, she explains that her efforts to protect the rainforest are being thwarted by powerful business lobbies. The director of Greenpeace Brazil has described her as Brazil 's guardian angel. “Now Brazil 's environment is orphaned.”
Tuesday 3 rd June
From today until Thursday a conference on World Food Security, Climate Change and Bioenergy is meeting at the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation's offices in Rome to “assess the challenges facing the food and agriculture sectors from climate change and bioenergy, in order to identify the steps required to safeguard food security.” Today is also a Day of Action on Climate Change called by the Network for Climate Action. For details of suggested actions and ideas, go to: www.daysofclimateaction.org.uk/food_actionideas.html
Wednesday 4 th June
Brazil 's progress towards environmental sustainability has unravelled over the past year, revealing record levels of deforestation, violent land disputes and runaway forest fires: 75,000 separate fires were photographed by satellite in September. Now the President has authorised new massive road- and dam-building projects, while the boom in agricultural products such as soya and sugar has created an unparalleled thirst for land and energy, the growing demand for beef has led to an explosion in cattle ranching and the soaring price of gold and minerals has led to the creation of hundreds of new mines which leave a legacy of pollution. The solution agreed at Bali last December was to reduce deforestation by 50% by 2050, which critics say is a licence to fell the remaining 50% of their rainforests with impunity. This is madness.
Thursday 5 th June
In 1998 Costa Rica imposed a total ban on deforestation: it is 100% effective. Paraguay has also imposed a total ban and this is 85% effective. Neither country has used market forces to protect its forests in the manner agreed at Bali . In Colombia and Panama there is a rights-based system of landholding based on historic land use. Indigenous people, if given the necessary legal powers, could maintain the forests, implement security measures and even restore degraded forests.
Finally, the EU Biofuels Directive and the UK Renewable Transport Fuels Obligation need to be repealed if the trashing of forests to fuel our vehicles is to stop.
Friday 6 th June
Biofuels have been blamed by the UN and the World Bank for driving up food prices, leaving over 100 million people in severe hunger. The UN adviser of food, Olivier de Schutter, said: “Barclays and HSBC are among British banks investing millions in biofuel companies such as Cargill, which was convicted of operating an illegal export terminal, and other companies which have been convicted of illegal working conditions amounting to slave labour.” FoE is calling on the EU to scrap its plans for a 10% biofuel target by 2020 as growing scientific evidence shows that biofuels do more harm than good and can increase greenhouse gas emissions through large-scale rainforest clearance.
Saturday 7 th June
Unilever is one of the biggest buyers of palm oil, a key ingredient in Dove soap, Persil and Flora. Now it has publicly declared its support for a moratorium on new palm oil plantations in order to protect Indonesia 's rainforests. According to Greenpeace, this is the first step towards building a coalition of major players, such as Kraft, Nestle, Cadbury and Proctor & Gamble, who together could put substantial pressure on their suppliers in Indonesia to stop destroying the rainforests.
Sunday 8 th June. Environment Sunday
Father, we thank you for the new awareness among many people of the urgent need to care for and to heal your world. Show us, we pray, the actions we can take to play our part in the healing process, to lead by example and to be prepared to give reasons for what we do. Amen.
Monday 9 th June
A legal challenge to environmental threats can be prohibitively expensive. A local resident, Francis Morgan, was advised that a judicial review of planning consent to dispose of waste just 300 metres from his home might expose him to legal costs in excess of £50,000. The Aarhus Convention, which Britain signed, aims to ensure that the public are able to access effective judicial mechanisms in a way that is “fair, equitable, timely and not prohibitively expensive”. A new report, chaired by Mr. Justice Sullivan has found that current rules on costs are inconsistent with the Aarhus Convention. WWF comments: “The current system in the UK makes it almost impossible to take environmental court action without the threat of losing your home or exposing your organisation to unacceptable risk. The present system means that the environment will continue to be the victim and no one can afford to protect it.”
Tuesday 10 th June
On May 15 th an estimated 5 million people avoided the daily commute and took part in National Work from Home Day. Of the 25 million people who regularly commute to work, the RAC calculates that 18 million travel by car. Phil Flaxton of Work Wise UK said that 1 in 8 of us already works from home at least occasionally and this has a significant impact on pollution levels and CO 2 emissions. “People are becoming aware of the damage that's being done and it does no harm to say ‘we can change the way we work'.” Work Wise UK has produced free guides to flexible working for employers and employees.
Wednesday 11 th June
Under a binding EU commitment, the UK must deliver 15% of its energy supply from renewables by 2020 – meaning that 40-45% of UK electricity supply must come from renewables. A report from the UK Green Building Council's Zero Carbon Task Group gives a clear definition of a zero- carbon home:
“Zero-carbon homes must not only meet high standards of efficiency through the design of a building, but must also ensure that the remaining energy demand is met from renewable sources.” The report strongly encourages micro-generation such as solar panels. WWF comments: “It is vitally important to maximise onsite energy generation. Over-reliance on imported energy poses a risk that this zero-carbon homes policy will simply piggyback on existing renewable energy commitments.”
Thursday 12 th June
Lord Stern has put Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) at the centre of his call for zero-carbon electricity globally by 2050. The EU pledged to have 12 large CCS power plants up and running by 2015, but today there are none and progress has stalled. BP cancelled its CCS project in Scotland last year and has now pulled out of a major CCS power plant in Australia . Now Shell has agreed to co-sponsor the £80 million Weyburn-Midale CO 2 Monitoring & Storage Project in Canada . Nobuo Tanaka, director of the International Energy Authority said: “We need to build at least 20 demonstration plants by 2020 at a cost of £1.5 billion each. Such a construction program should be viewed as a litmus test of our seriousness towards combating climate change.” Technology may indeed be part of the answer, but everyone on earth can play their part in reducing the use of fossil fuels.
Friday 13 th June
The veteran US oilman Boone Pickens, who was exploring Texas for oil 50 years ago, has invested $2 billion in a 4,000 MW. wind farm in Texas – enough to power 1.3 million US homes. Federal tax credits have made the project economically viable. He said: “The development of alternative energy projects, especially renewable resources such as wind power, is critical for the future of the country in the face of declining world oil resources. You find an oilfield, it peaks and starts declining and you've got to find another one to replace it. It can drive you crazy. With wind, there's no decline curve.”
Royal Dutch Shell is also planning a 3,000 MW. wind farm in Texas . The turbines, supplied by General Electric, are for delivery in 2011.
Saturday 14 th June
The Cyclone Nargis disaster in Burma 's Irrawaddy delta may have cost 200,000 lives. Yet last November's Cyclone Sidr in Bangladesh was stronger than Nargis, but it did far less damage since the Sundarbans, where it struck, are protected by 6,000 square kilometres of mangroves. In Burma , the mangroves were largely cleared to make way for rice plantations. Dr. Julian Caldecott suggests that the time has come to help Burma replace its mangroves. “These forests can be re-planted and, once re-established, can maintain astonishing levels of fish and prawn production, while providing security for people who live and farm further inland.”
Sunday 15 th June
Father, help us to grasp the truth that without prayer there is no power. Help us to avoid the barrenness of too much busyness, but to find the fruitfulness that comes only through prayer. Amen.
Monday 16 th June
Russia is the only country in the world which accepts radioactive waste from other countries for processing, long-term storage and burial. The government plans to build a new uranium cleaning and storage plant – the International Uranium Enrichment Centre – just 50 miles from Lake Baikal and within the lake's watershed. Lake Baikal contains more than 20% of the world's freshwater and is home to more than 2,000 plant and animal species which occur nowhere else. Marina Rikhanova, a local activist, has organised mass demonstrations and rallies against the project, with over 20,000 people signing her petition, and has suffered harassment and intimidation. She is one of six global recipients of the 2008 Goldman Environment Prize, sometimes called the Green Nobel Prize. For more information visit: www.goldmanprize.org
Tuesday 17 th June
A report from the US Department of Transport, the European air traffic regulator, Manchester University and technology company QinetiQ finds that aircraft emissions of CO 2 are 20% higher than previously thought. Other findings:
CO 2 emissions from aircraft will rise from their current 670 million tonnes a year to up to 1.48 billion tonnes by 2025;
The number of people seriously affected by aircraft noise will rise from 24 million in 2000 to 30.3 million by 2025 despite the introduction of quieter jets;
Nitrogen oxides around airports, produced by aircraft engines, will rise from 2.5 million tonnes in 2000 to 6.1 million tonnes in 2025.
The Aviation Environmental Federation comments: “Growth of CO 2 emissions on this scale will comfortably outstrip any gains made by improved technology and ensure that aviation will make an even larger contribution to global warming than previously thought. Governments must put a cap on air transport's unrestrained growth.”
Wednesday 18 th June
The Government's Sustainable Energy Commission has come out strongly against current proposals to expand Heathrow and Stansted Airports . It found there was widespread controversy over key areas such as:
The impact on the climate of rising aviation emissions;
The economic benefits of increased aviation for tourism and wealth creation;
The extent to which improvements in aircraft technology can reduce or stabilise CO 2 emissions from air travel.
It called for a powerful independent commission to resolve these issues, on the lines of the Stern Review on climate change.
Thursday 19 th June
An application for a wind farm was recently turned down by Merthyr Tydfil council. Instead, it granted permission for one of Europe 's biggest opencast coalmines on over 1,000 acres of land coming within 36 metres of the nearest home and 600 metres from four local schools. This contravenes rules on distances laid down in the Minerals Technical Advice Note for Coal, but because it was described as a “Land Reclamation Scheme” the Ffros-y-Fran mine project was passed. Residents collected 1,000 signatures opposing the project, and mounted a legal challenge which was unsuccessful. Their leader, Elizabeth Condron, has since endured anonymous death threats, bottles smashed against her home and the shooting of her beloved dog. “People in this town say I am either very brave or very stupid”, she says. “I pretend I am brave.”
Friday 20 th June
The economy, according to Colin Tudge, is the engine of all society, the driver of all concerted activity. But if we do not tailor it to physical reality – to fit in with what the earth can actually deliver – then it can wreck the whole world.
The economy that prevails at present is not in our control. It does not achieve what most people want or need and it does not recognise the physical limits of the world.
The governments of rich nations have declared a “war on poverty” while presiding over an economic system in which the rich are bound to get richer while the poor grow poorer.
Saturday 21 st June
At the core of the world's trouble, according to Margrit Kennedy, is compound interest, which leads to results such that a debt at 6% interest doubles every 12 years. In the real world, things rot and become useless. But money, by contrast, is allowed to grow by compound interest towards infinity. Money loaned at interest does not obey the same laws as the physical assets that money buys.
Any plantation farmer can farm his trees on a sustainable basis and produce £X profit annually for ever. Alternatively, he can move to intensive farming and produce £X and a half times profit for 20 years, after which the land turns to desert. With interest at about 9% per annum, a standard cash flow analysis will always recommend the intensive option.
This killing of the golden goose is not just theory. The world's top deforesting nations are among its most indebted, partly because saving trees is less of a priority than servicing international debts.
Sunday 22 nd June
Father, we sometimes feel overwhelmed by the scale and complication of the environmental problems we face. Help us to see how we may respond in our daily lives to the challenges that face us, and help us to understand that where we lead, others will surely follow.
Monday 23rd June
According to Lord Josiah Smith, former Director of the Bank of England, the modern banking system manufactures money out of nothing. “The process is perhaps the most astounding sleight of hand that was ever invented.” When we are granted a bank loan, money is thereby created. When we decide not to take the loan after all, the money ceases to exist. This global orgy of fantasy money is several times the value of the goods and services available. It is a virtual commodity in a fantasy world. Unfortunately, we live on a planet with finite resources. Our frenetic activity is harming the sky, the oceans and the land. A growth economy is only sustainable in the fantasy world of economists. When the economy slows, they get alarmed and encourage us to consume what is left at a still faster rate. How can we persuade our leaders that the best place for our fast-diminishing store of fossil fuels is in the ground?
Tuesday 24 th June
James Bruges, author of The Big Earth Book, suggests that the power to create money should be taken away from commercial banks. “We would of course pay banks for handling our money, just as we would other professionals. But all the money needed for exchange should be issued free of interest by a central authority that i