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“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.”
“Mankind is not able to bear too much reality.”
“The work of keeping the gnawing dogs of truth at bay takes far more energy than admitting the awful truth. When we are committed to honesty, to seeing things as they are, without denial or distortion, we have only to knock at the door of truth to find it ready open and the Bread of Life deposited in our hands.”
Thursday 1 st January
The Climate Change Act became law on 26 th November. Under it Britain is legally obliged to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050 - with a series of 5-year greenhouse …
‘budgets' to ensure that the target is kept on track. Britain is the first country to introduce a legally-binding framework to cut emissions, but scientists warn that further cuts are urgently required to avoid the severe impacts that a greater than 2 0 increase in average temperature would bring.
Friday 2 nd January
The new Climate Change Committee under Lord Turner has recommended a cut of 42% in UK emissions by 2020 – a target which it believes is achievable and affordable. WWF believes it is vital that the UK avoids locking itself into a carbon-intensive future by allowing new coal-fired power stations without carbon capture and storage. “Government must accept that approving coal-fired plants such as Kingsnorth is simply not an option. Introducing an emissions performance standard, limiting emissions from power stations, would help to prevent this from happening.”
Saturday 3rd January
The Government has committed itself to introducing a Marine & Coastal Access Bill to establish a network of marine protected areas for important species and habitats such as sea-horses and salt marshes and to improve management of the competing interests of offshore energy developments and fishing activities.
WWF comments: “We now have a final window of opportunity to influence this legislation in safeguarding our magnificent seas for years to come. The next few months will be critical in shaping UK and Scottish Marine Bills into leading pieces of legislation for other countries to follow.”
Sunday 4th January
Save us, loving Father, from over-reliance on human ingenuity and short-term solutions as we strive to repair the damage we have wrought to your world. While acknowledging our reasoning powers as your most precious gift, inspire us to put our trust in you alone, who gave your Son for us and for all your creation. Amen.
Monday 5th January
The Mediterranean bluefin tuna fishery is in danger of collapse through overfishing, but the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) has set quotas far above what its own scientists recommended, leaving industrial fleets free to scoop up tuna at the height of itheir spawning period. WWF comments: “This decision is a disgrace which leaves us little choice but to look elsewhere to save this fishery from itself. Catches have gone from two to four times the scientific recommendations, with massive legal and illegal overfishing. A moratorium, which the scientific panel said would lead to the quickest recovery in bluefin stock, was not even considered by ICCAT despite its charter of delivering a long-term sustainable fishery.” Now WWF is pushing for a listing under the CITES convention to provide stringent trade controls.
Tuesday 6th January
Salmon are carnivores and salmon farms require 4 kg. of wild fish as feed to produce 1 kg. of farmed salmon. Peru is the world's leading exporter of fishmeal and in 2007 supplied 28% of the UK requirement for salmon feed. In Peru 's Bay of Ferrol untreated effluents from fishmeal plants have led to the accumulation of a toxic layer of undecomposed organic material on the sea bed, creating a marine dead zone. Comments John Volpe Professor of Ecology at the University of Victoria : “ Salmon is not cheap. We've created a way for it to be cheap for the consumer by shifting the cost to ecosystems and communities which are being degraded for the sake of cheap salmon.”
Wednesday 7th January
Scotland 's aquaculture industry is estimated to produce the same amount of nitrogen waste as the untreated sewage of 3.2 million people. Farmed seafood now provides 42% of the world's seafood supply and according to World Watch this figure is expected to exceed 50% within 10 years. What can we do?
Skipjack tuna and 5 species of Pacific salmon are MSC-certified and carry the MSC logo. With farmed species, try herbivores such as tilapia and carp. Support organisations which campaign for sustainable fishing. Oceana is the biggest of these ( www.oceana.org/europe ) . Others are Greenpeace ( www.greenpeace.org.uk/oceans ) and the Environmental Justice Foundation ( www.ejfoundation.org )
Thursday 8th January
Palm oil cultivation has been the cause of massive rainforest destruction for two decades. It is used in a variety of foods and cosmetics including margarine, fish fingers, shampoo and washing powder. Between 1991 and 2006 five million hectares of palm oil were established in Indonesia , mostly in rainforest or peatlands. Producers and retailers together formed the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to create a certification system like that run by the FSC. Now two plantations (one in Malaysia and one in New Britain ) have been certified as sustainable. Borneo Orangutan Survival is launching an ‘orangutan-friendly' label for 100% certified palm oil. Sainsbury's aims to use only certified palm oil by 2014. However, these are little more than gestures without positive support from the Indonesian and Malaysian governments.
Friday 9th January
A new constitution for Ecuador , passed in a national referendum, reflects the traditions of indigenous people who see Nature as a mother. The constitution provides explicit legal protection for the environment: “Nature has a right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structures, functions and processes in evolution” The Government “must apply precaution in all the activities that could lead to the extinction of any species, the destruction of ecosystems or cause permanent alteration of natural cycles.” It has appealed to the international community to find innovative ways to recompense the country for the $4.6 billion it will lose through a ban on drilling for oil. “We offer to forsake oil revenue for the sake of humanity, but we need the international community to share the responsibility by providing some compensation in recognition of the environmental benefits we will generate for the entire planet.”
Saturday 10th January
“Should we continue to let the commercial banks create a major part of our money supply? This is a question frequently heard in the new era of ‘credit crunch'. James Robertson, founder of the New Economics Foundation, proposes a transfer to a central bank of the function of deciding how much money needs to be created to meet the elected government's monetary objectives and creating it for transmission to the government's account as a debt-free gift. In this way the creation of a public money supply would become a source of public benefit, not a source of private profit for commercial banks and their stakeholders. This reform would remove many of the damaging economic, social and environmental consequences of creating most of the money supply as debt. Also, the first use of newly-created money would no longer profit commercial banks, enabling them for example to buy up existing assets such as land. The full article by James Robertson can be read at: www.businessworld.in/index.php/Columns/Dethroning-The-Dollar.html
Sunday 11th January
Be with us, Lord, when we go shopping. If we have little money, help us to choose wisely and not to hanker after things we can't afford.
Help us too if we are well provided with money. Save us from self-indulgence and extravagance. Help us to contribute wisely to the needs of those who lack the essentials of life. Be Lord of every part of our lives, but especially of our money, for the sake of your Son who gave us such clear guidance on the use of money. Amen.
Monday 12th January
Professor Alex Gardner, author of How Green is Your Money? , writes: “While people regularly recycle and are happy to pay more for ethical products such as fairtrade coffee and organic food, they ignore their basic values when it comes to banking choices.” We tend not to discuss money matters and most adults are more likely to get divorced than to switch banks. We have perhaps learnt in recent months that high interest rates come with a risky downside, but most of us don't want to talk about our financial choices. Just as banks need to become more transparent in their dealings, so we too need to be more open, eliminating our ethical Achilles heel. The book is available by emailing: William.Ferguson@triodos.co.uk
Tuesday 13th January
The Green New Deal report outlines six steps towards Britain 's triple crunch – the financial crisis, accelerating climate change and high energy prices:
1.Creating and sustaining a ‘carbon army' of workers to shift the economy from a narrow focus on financial services and shopping to one that is an engine of environmental transformation. Germany already employs 250,000 people in renewable energy alone. Britain has hardly started.
2. Rising carbon taxes – with safety nets for the poor – to provide incentives for energy companies to drive forward energy efficiency and to bring alternative fuels to market.
3. Smart investment and regulation to improve home insulation and place a ‘demand reduction obligation' on utilities.
4. Forced demerger of the big banks and financial institutions that have brought on the credit crunch. New capital controls are essential if central banks and governments are to control interest rates.
5. Contracts for exotic financial instruments such as collateralised debt obligations should be made unenforceable at law. Corporate tax evasion by the use of tax havens should be made illegal.
6. A new international agreement to succeed the Kyoto Protocol in 2012 should give poorer countries the opportunity to escape poverty without fuelling global warming by massive investment in climate change adaptation and renewable energy, supporting the free transfer of new energy technologies to developing countries.
Wednesday 14th January
In discussing the failed Kyoto Protocol, Oliver Tickell in “Kyoto2: How to Manage the Global Greenhouse” (Zed Books 2008) suggests that the most efficient place to control industrial emissions is not where they are emitted, but ‘upstream' – close to where fossil fuels are produced or factories (such as cement factories) where greenhouse gases are produced. “It is far easier to control flow from a garden sprinkler by adjusting the tap rather than blocking up the holes in the hosepipe.” This approach also reduces the possibility of fraud and accounting errors.
Secondly, if a product is manufactured in China , owned by US investors, using Swiss technology, burning Indonesian coal, exported to the EU in Liberian ships owned by Greek shipping magnates, who is responsible for the emissions? The answer is to abandon national allocations of emission rights. Instead, they should be given out on a per person basis. Emission permits could then be used by individuals or sold by auction to raise money for investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Thursday 15th January
The Oxford-based Community Sustainability Trust aims to generate 750,000 kWh of renewable energy a year through solar and wind projects. The energy generated would fetch £100,000 a year in sales to the grid – money that would pay for energy improvements to local homes and businesses. Large businesses are encouraged to lease their roofs to the community for solar energy generation. The power produced would pay the lease and also earn money for the Trust. The local community centre already has a solar PV roof, the primary school will follow suit and the Trust aims to reduce local emissions by 90% by 2050.
Friday 16th January
London-based charity Global Generation works with young people on environmental training from food production to installing green roofs and carbon reduction plans. Its recruits have worked with environmental specialists to install water conservation systems and renewable energy facilities in existing buildings. Others have grown food on rooftop gardens and in allotments which they have sold to local restaurants. Website: www.globalgeneration.org.uk
Saturday 17th January
Today at Redcliffe College , Gloucester , the John Ray Institute is hosting a conference on “Just Living: The quest for fairness in a finite world.”
In just living we have squandered in one generation what has been saved up for many. Is there a model for development that fits in with how the earth was made, enabling us to live justly alongside our global neighbour? Can the Bible help us to understand true wealth – wealth that those who struggle to survive can share? What can we do in our quest for fairness in a finite world? Speakers include Dewi Hughes, theological adviser to Tearfund, Peter Price-Thomas of The Natural Step and Dr Andrew Steer. The cost of £38 includes lunch. For more details, go to: www.redcliffe.org
Sunday 18th January
Lord, we have squandered the gift of life.
The good life of some is built on the pain of many and the pleasure of few on the agony of others.
We worship death in our quest for possessions.
We worship death in our hankering after security,
as if life were divisible, as if love were divisible,
as if Christ had not died for all of us.
We thirst for you in a thirsty land.
To you we lift our outspread hands.
(Prayer used by World Council of Churches)
Monday 19th January
Energy companies normally sell gas and electricity and seldom offer advice on how to reduce energy consumption. The Household Energy Service in Shropshire , in addition to providing energy, offers a free environmental survey to advise on measures for reducing CO 2 emissions. These are then offered at low cost through approved suppliers, with follow-up advice. HES gets a commission from local businesses and also sells carbon-reduction credits. For more details visit: www.light-foot.org
Tuesday 20th January
The Waste Oil Recycling Project in Prisons (WORPP ) is an initiative of the Used Cooking Oil Alliance to train prisoners in the process of making biodiesel from used cooking oil. Nearly 40 prisoners in a West Sussex prison nearing the end of their sentences are trained each year. The end product is sold as fuel for prison vehicles and the profits used to improve training opportunities for offenders. Gaining these skills is thought to reduce the chances of prisoners re-offending.
Wednesday 21st January
Percy Schmeiser, the Canadian farmer who was sued by Monsanto for allowing GM contaminated crops to grow on his land, has told a London audience that cross-contamination from GM crops in Canada is now so extensive that if they were introduced commercially to Europe, organic farming would become impossible.
“There is no such thing as containment or co-existence or choice. Your yields drop and you end up using three to five times more chemicals. We now have new superweeds in our towns, on our golf courses, in our cemeteries and on our roads. The chemicals we have to use on them contain up to 70% of the constituents of Agent Orange. I have not come from Canada to tell you what to do – you have a choice – but in two years from now, if you introduce GM crops, you can't say ‘We didn't know'.”
Thursday 22nd January
Two weeks after a ruling by the European Food Standards Authority that the French ban on Monsanto's GM maize was not justified by the science, a study by scientists at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna showed that mice fed with the same Monsanto GM maize produced a smaller third and fourth litter, with lighter offspring, than those fed with non-GM maize. This is the first peer-reviewed study to show a negative health effect of GM maize. See www.tinyurl.co/6s5rct
Friday 23rd January
Nanoparticles less than 100 nm in size can be distributed in the body without detection by the body's natural defences and can even cross cell membranes. They can stimulate allergic reactions such as asthma, and influence the development of multiple sclerosis. A study by Spanish researchers at the University of Alcala finds that if high-polluting diesel vehicles, such as certain buses and lorries in poor condition, were removed, pollution from nanoparticles could be reduced by up to 48%. “It is the super-polluters that pollute the most, since these are usually the ones in poor condition and with poor combustion” comments Philip Siegmann, the lead researcher. He considers that these vehicles should be removed from the traffic flow. See www.sciencedaily.com
Saturday 24th January
Next December, in Copenhagen , the nations of the world will set the agenda for tackling climate change for years ahead. Operation Noah has organised a gathering in Cardiff today under the message “Save Creation – in Copenhagen .” The Ark will represent our planet, containing the whole spectrum of life threatened by runaway climate change. Pupils from several schools will come dressed as animals and will bring images of human communities affected by floods and droughts because of climate change. Farmers will bring livestock to display on the Ark. The Salvation Army will provide a brass band and a local choir will sing “All Creatures of Our God and King”. The event will kick-start a nationwide campaign to bring this issue to the centre of the political agenda in the run-up to Copenhagen .
Sunday 25th January
Loving Father, we thank you that out of the sea and from the earth we receive the provision you have made for all our needs.
We thank you for the skills in harvesting the earth's resources that have been passed from one generation to another.
We thank you for all those visionaries who work to channel the earth's products to the needy and underprivileged.
Help us to use your gifts for the extension of your kingdom throughout the world. Amen.
Monday 26th January
A by-product of the world recession has been a drop in the demand for recycled products. Waste management plans which seemed robust and well thought-through are beginning to come apart. The Government's Waste Resources & Action Plan (WRAP) has set up an advice forum for local authorities. While demand for mixed recyclables has dropped, plastic bottles and glass are still needed. “It is important to check which materials can be recycled in your area. Most materials that are put out for recycling are still being recycled. If they are not put out, they will definitely end up in landfill, with the worst possible environmental consequences. More than two-thirds of the population consider themselves committed recyclers, so it is imperative that we do not lose this momentum.”
Tuesday 27th January
Speaking at the CBI's Climate Change Summit, its director-general Richard Lambert said that we must not let the global economic crisis become an excuse for inaction on climate change. “Now more than ever we need to secure a binding EU climate change deal, or the opportunity to make the transition to a low-carbon economy will slip through our fingers.
The Government's commitment to reducing emissions by 80% by 2050 is very ambitious. It should now translate this into action by developing new green technologies to improve our prosperity and meet our climate change targets. . . Where the great depression was solved by building roads and bridges, what this economic crisis needs is green innovation in both energy and applications.”
Wednesday 28th January
Scientists from the UK Met Office predict that almost a fifth of the world population will be exposed to levels of ozone well above those recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Ozone not only contributes to global warming but also acts as a powerful respiratory irritant frequently observed in urban areas. Plants remove ozone during the growing period, but increasing CO 2 reduces this effect. “High levels of ozone poison plants and reduce the rate of photosynthesis which, in turn, reduces the absorption of CO 2 by plants, leading to increased global warming.” Comment: Low-level ozone is largely caused by vehicle emissions.
Thursday 29th January
A suburb of Barcelona – Santa Coloma de Gramanet – contains a cemetery holding the remains of 57,000 people. At a cost of 720,000 euros, the authorities have erected 462 solar panels on its multi-storey mausoleums, generating enough energy for 60 homes and saving about 62 tonnes of carbon emissions a year. Although the scheme was initially treated with derision, families who use the cemetery now support the idea and there are plans to erect more solar panels and triple the amount of electricity generated.
Friday 30th January
According to Professor John Beddington, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser, the energy used to power buildings is responsible for over 50% of UK carbon emissions. A study from the think-tank Foresight entitled Powering Our Lives: Sustainable Energy Management and the Built Environment says that reducing energy use in buildings is the cheapest, most effective option for cutting the UK carbon footprint. Upgrading the existing housing stock is an urgent priority. The study advocates;
More localised energy generation, so that losses in transmission of electricity and heat are reduced;
Solar hot water panels on individual homes;
Combined heat and power systems for blocks of flats and large estates.
“Persuading people to change their day-to-day habits could have a significant effect, such as turning off devices not in use. People have not yet responded at the scale and pace needed to meet future emissions targets. The benefits of doing so need to be made clear and incentives offered.”
Saturday 31st January
At Settle, North Yorkshire , a community-owned 50 kw hydro power plant is to be built using a 200-year old weir and the 2,000-year old technology of an Archimedean screw. Surplus money from the sale of hydro electricity will fund local environmental and community projects. The plant, to be built by Water Power Enterprises, will be capable of producing 185,000 kWh of renewable electricity each year – enough to power 50 homes. There are at least 42 other river weir sites in Yorkshire and Humberside identified for similar development. Water Power Enterprises aims to develop some of these and to save 6,500 tonnes of carbon emissions a year by installing 5 MW of renewable energy by 2015. Contacts: www.greensettle.org.uk/hydro and Water Power Enterprises, Lower Mount Farm, Shore, Todmorden, W. Yorks . OL14 8SD. Website: www.h2ope.org.uk
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