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CHRISTIAN ECOLOGY LINK
A prayer guide for
The Care of Creation

D E C E M B E R   2 0 0 1

 

          “Their thoughts are evil thoughts; ruin and destruction mark their ways.

                   The way of peace they do not know; there is no justice in their paths.

          They have turned them into crooked roads; no-one who walks in them will know peace.”  (Isaiah 59.7-8)

 

          “See, a king will reign in righteousness and rulers will rule with justice . . .

          Justice will dwell in the desert and righteousness live in the fertile field.

          The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence for ever.”

                                                                                                                   (Isaiah. 32.1 & 16-17)

          “Sustainability isn’t a luxury of the good times. It’s a fundamental pre-requisite of that most elusive of human desires – peace.”                                                                         (Martin Wright & Jonathon Porritt)

 

Saturday 1st December.

          One of this year’s Right Livelihood Awards goes to Gush Shalom, an Israeli peace group founded 8 years ago on three principles:

·        Israeli withdrawal from all the occupied territories;

·        Recognition of the PLO as representative of the Palestinian people;

·        Recognition of the legality of a Palestinian alongside Israel, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Its actions have included the rebuilding of demolished houses of Palestinians, demonstrations against expropriation of Palestinian land for the establishment or enlargement of settlements, and generally supporting the Oslo peace process. Its members are regularly arrested and abused, but Uri Avnery, one of the founders, said recently: “The present is but a stage – albeit a sad one – in the inevitable march towards peace and reconciliation. After 55 years of struggle for Israeli-Palestinian peace, I can see the immense progress we have made. The present throws us a long way back, but we shall move ahead again.” For more details ring Gush Shalom on +972 (O)305 244 552 or fax +972 351 711 08.

 

Sunday 2nd December.

          God of all nations, we thank you for the love of peace which is shared by ordinary all over the world. Use that love to create the structures of peace and a new atmosphere of co-operation. Help us to identify the common enemies of humankind and to work together for the eradication of poverty, hunger and the despoliation of the earth. Give us the will to build defences against these, instead of against each other; for the sake of Jesus Christ our Saviour.

 

Monday 3rd December.

          A new initiative by the Oxford Research Group (ORG) called “Give Peace a Bank” will establish an International Peace Bank, muscular enough to support all who make the choice for non-violence and put themselves on the line for it. It will enable those in strife-torn areas to learn what has been successful elsewhere and will provide invaluable resources, such as mobile phones and photocopiers. Its inspiration is a phrase of Mahatma Gandhi: “An eye for an eye leaves everyone blind. Violence ends by defeating itself. It creates bitterness in the survivors and brutality in the destroyers.” For details ring 01865 242819 or fax 01865 794652 or e-mail org@oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk

 

Tuesday 4th December.

          A briefing paper from ORG called “Waiting for Terror: How realistic is the biological, chemical & nuclear threat?” by Dr.Frank Barnaby, a former nuclear weapons specialist at Aldermaston, examines the questions:

·        What is terrorism?

·        What is the potential for terrorist use of chemical, biological & nuclear weapons?

·        What are the keys to counter-terrorism?

·        What forms will future terrorism take?

For a copy, price £5, contact Nick Ritchie of ORG as above, or download it from www.oxfordresearchgroup.org.uk

 

Wednesday 5th December.

          Tony Blair, referring to those responsible for the destruction of the Twin Towers, said: “We know that they would, if they could, go further and use chemical & biological or even nuclear weapons of mass destruction. We have been warned by the events of September 11th. We should act on that warning.”  Unfortunately the Government then allowed BNFL to start up the new Mixed Oxide (MOX) plant at Sellafield which will produce and ship round the world a mixture of plutonium (5%) and uranium oxides in a form attractive to terrorists. The shipments will be heavily guarded; however, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported 104 confirmed cases of nuclear smuggling between 1993 and 1995 and the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists noted that if all the excess plutonium from dismantled nuclear weapons were measured in units of 8 kg. (the amount needed for a Nagasaki-type bomb) there is enough to build 9,000 such bombs and enough plutonium separated from spent reactor fuel to build another 25,000. Pray for the safe storage of nuclear materials and for international agreement to limit or cease altogether the production of fissile material that, in the wrong hands, cause massive devastation to God’s earth.

 

Thursday 6th December.

          Today the world waits while the USA decides whether to return to the negotiating table of the Biological & Toxin Weapons Convention (see entry for Nov.19th) and to co-operate with the rest of the world in approving a Verification Protocol to prevent the further development of biological weapons. Pray that the US Administration will place the lives of its own and world citizens above the interests of the biotechnology industry.

 

Friday 7th December.

          The Government’s Energy Review is to be published this month. There are indications that it will recommend building new privately-owned nuclear plants, though analysts doubt whether nuclear energy is economically viable in a liberalized energy market. Environmentalists believe that the whole of current electricity demand could be met from renewable sources provided that the Government invests in the technology to create the necessary economies of scale and increases the “renewables obligation” annually. However, the Performance & Innovation Unit which is bringing out the report notes that “even a 100% non-fossil fuel power generating system would not allow achievement of the Royal Commission’s target of a 60% cut in carbon emissions by 2050. Substantial changes in the heating fuel and transport fuel markets are required as well.” In other words, we must all reduce our consumption of fossil fuels.

 

Saturday 8th December.

          “What happens if there’s no wind?” is a regular objection to the extension of wind power.

Answers:

1.     Maximum demand for heating occurs in winter when wind and wave activity is usually at its peak;

2.     Wind projects feed power into the national grid, and it is usually windy somewhere in the UK;

3.     Not all renewable energy sources are intermittent. Tidal energy is not at all weather-dependent. Hydro is even more reliable and provides energy storage capacity. Energy crops can also be stored and fed continuously to power plants to generate electricity for later use. Solar power is of course intermittent, but solar heat can be stored fairly efficiently, as in Scandinavian interseasonal heat stores, and PV electricity can be stored by converting it to hydrogen gas by electrolysis.

 

Sunday 9th December.

          Lord Jesus, the carpenter, help us not to be afraid to get our hands dirty as we work in your name. Challenge us every day to care for your world and to work gently in it. Amen.

 

Monday 10th December.

          David Fleming, in a forthcoming book called “The Lean Economy” believes that when, inevitably, the five Middle Eastern oil producers – Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia & the UAE – can no longer pump their oil fast enough to meet the growth in world demand, the economic damage will first hit Third World countries whose agriculture is increasingly oil-based, and whose tourism will be paralysed by high fuel costs and a collapse in consumers’ income, leading to political unrest as food distribution breaks down. Eventually the effects will be global. To fill the energy gap left by oil and gas would require 12,000 nuclear power stations, or two new ones to be built every day.

He argues that the ethical reasons for adopting green policies will converge at last with the practical reasons. The task of building an energy-efficient economy 25 years too late may be futile, but at last, having explored all the alternatives, human society will be forced to do the right thing.

 

Tuesday 11th December.

          According to Lester Brown, Director of the Worldwatch Institute, if China’s goal since 1994 of an auto-centred transportation system were to be achieved, and China was to consume oil at the US rate, it would need over 80 million barrels a day – slightly more than the 74 million barrels that the world now produces. To provide the necessary roads, it would need to pave 16 million hectares of land – equal to half the area used to produce the whole of China’s rice crop.

 

Wednesday 12th December.

          Chinese demand for livestock products – meat, leather and wool – has led to livestock numbers far exceeding those of the USA, a country of similar size. Besides direct damage from overploughing and overgrazing, the northern half of China is drying out as aquifers are depleted by overpumping. The Chinese have already caught up with the Americans in pork consumption. Raising beef consumption to the American level would require 49 million additional tonnes of beef a year: this in turn would require 343 million tones of grain a year – equal to the entire US grain harvest. Pray about these issues.

 

Thursday 13th December.

          H.G.Wells in his “Outline of History” wrote; “Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” Lester Brown writes: “We spend much time worrying about our economic deficits, but it is the ecological deficits that threaten our economic future.” “Economic deficits are what we borrow from each other, ecological deficits are what we take from future generations.” If economists and environmental scientists worked together to calculate the cost of climate disruption and air pollution, this figure could become a tax on coal-fired electricity that, when added to the current price, would give the full cost of coal use. Followed across the board, this procedure would give governments the information to make more intelligent, economically-responsible decisions. “Socialism collapsed because it did not allow prices to tell the economic truth. Capitalism may collapse because it does not allow prices to tell the ecological truth.”

 

Friday 12th December.

          Give thanks for the 32,000 signatures to a petition to the WTO meeting at Qatar which led to the affirmation that, if drug companies price their drugs beyond the reach of the people who need, governments can override those companies’ patents without fear of retribution. But the fight for affordable medicines is far from over. WTO patent rules will still deprive the sick in developing countries of necessary treatment.

 

Saturday 15th December.

          A year ago a Green Paper on Globalisation committed the UK Government to “working with others to manage globalisation so that poverty is systematically reduced and international development targets realized.” Today there are 60 million tones of surplus grain in Indian Government food stores while government figures show that 50 million of its people are facing starvation. In famine-stricken Orissa children are being sold for a few thousand rupees to ward off starvation. Under pressure from the WTO and World Bank for globalisation and trade liberalization Indian land under cash crops such as cotton has increased by 25% since 1990 while the area under traditional grains has declined by 18%. Since 1998 food production has declined by 12.8 million tonnes. The removal of import restrictions last year led to the import of cheap US soya beans – cheap because the US Government pays farmers $193 a tonne to keep them in business. Result: the price for India’s domestic soybean production fell by two-thirds and edible oil prices crashed. Some protesting farmers were shot and killed. Pray for restrictions on all food imports where there is no evidence of domestic scarcity, and for stringent anti-dumping rules and an end to trade monopolies.

 

Sunday 16th December.

          Grant us, Father, 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 17th December.

          A book by Rosalie Bertell called “Planet Earth: the latest weapon of war” (ISBN 0704 344289) catalogues the harm being done to the earth’s support systems by military testing of new weapons, such as damage to the Van Allen belts girdling the earth, the creation of new electromagnetic belts (accidentally damaging the Inuit with caesium 137) and, above all, the creation of HAARP – the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program -  which is designed to heat  sections of the ionosphere until they bulge into a curved “lens” which will reflect massive energy beams back to earth, destroying selected targets. She warns that everything in our universe is in dynamic equilibrium and this interference may de-stabilise a system that has maintained its own cycle for millions of years. She calls for a re-definition of “security” to mean “the protection and responsible stewardship of the Earth” and for a re-direction of military expenditure towards conflict resolution, social justice and sustainable living.

 

Tuesday 18th December.

          Education is the latest target for trade liberalization in the negotiations for GATS (the General Agreement on Trade in Services). Spending on education amounts to a twentieth of the world’s GDP, and the private sector intends to have its share. According to UNESCO : “In a number of countries . . . the management of state schools is being transferred to private companies. The next stage is to turn schools into businesses in their own right.” According to Peter Sutherland, chairman of the European Round Table of industrialists and former Director-general of GATT: “Responsibility for training must be assumed by industry once and for all. Education should be considered as a service to the economy.” In the words of the OECD: “The only role of the public sector will be to ensure access to learning for those who will never be a profitable market and whose exclusion from society in general will be accentuated as others continue to progress.” Pray for a far-reaching debate on the meaning of education in the 21st century in the light of these comments.

 

Wednesday 19th December.

          Proctor & Gamble, the world’s largest manufacturer of disposable nappies, produced an educational package called “Destination Earth” which was distributed to nearly 75.000 US schools. It argued that disposable nappies are no worse for the environment than cloth ones. It then described waste-fuelled incineration as “thermal re-cycling” but omitted to mention the associated release of dioxins and other toxic materials. Yet under pressure from the IMF and World Bank developing countries were forced to cut spending on state education. The World Bank stated: “Those countries which are willing to adopt a legislative and regulatory framework for higher education in which the private sector has a greater involvement in teaching and finance will continue to receive priority (for loans).”

 

Thursday 20th December.

          Fish-farming in Scotland is under intense pressure. A petition submitted to the Scottish Parliament accuses the Government of “regulatory failure” to control the expansion of sea cage fish farming. The Scottish Fishermen’s Association has pointed out that farmed fish are fed on fishmeal products which, inevitably, come from wild stock. A paper in “Nature” calculated that it takes 3 tonnes of wild fish to produce 1 tonne of farmed salmon. 80% of all fish caught by Norwegian trawlers now provides feed for the fish-farming industry. By 2010, according to the International Fish Meal & Fish Oil Manufacturers, fish farming may consume 90% of the world’s fish oil. This, according to Dr.Becky Goldman of the Environmental Defense Fund, is “biological nonsense”. Meanwhile fish meal is being stockpiled by companies which foresee a shortage, so increasing the pressure on wild stocks. Pray an early solution to the unsustainable exploitation of wild fish stocks.

 

Friday 21st December.

          WWF has calculated that waste discharges from Scottish salmon farms are equivalent to those from 9.4 million people. The flushing rates from sheltered lochs are so slow that the effect is similar to flushing a toilet once a month. The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency has issued over 500 licences since 1998 for toxic chemicals such as azamethipos, cypermethrin, teflubenzuron and emamectin in the attempt to control salmon diseases. By contrast, the Norwegian State Pollution Control Agency has admitted that salmon farms are major polluters and, in June, banned the use of copper paints in salmon cages and started removing salmon cages from the mouths of salmon rivers – a move proposed by the Scottish EPA 10 years ago but blocked by the salmon farming industry. To seek a public enquiry, write to Andy Kerr MSP of the Transport & Environment Committee and Rhona Brankin the Fisheries Minister, The Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh EH99 1SP.

 

Saturday 22nd December.

          Arsenic contamination of soils is a major problem round the world. Researchers at Florida University have found that the Brake Fern (Pteris vittata) can extract large quantities of this carcinogenic heavy metal from polluted soils, and stores up to 93% of it in its fronds, which can easily be harvested. Experts from Kew’s Royal Botanic Gardens believe there must be many other ferns among the world’s 12,000 species that are capable of doing the same thing.

 

Sunday 23rd December.

          Christ our Lord and Saviour, who on earth was yourself homeless and a refugee, we pray for the millions who today 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 – poverty, racial violence and environmental disorder. Help us never to forget their plight, but to work actively in support of relief organizations.

 

Monday 24th December (Christmas Eve).

          Bless tonight, Father, those for whom this is a hard and bitter time of suffering and remembering, those for whom your gift seems to offer little comfort. Deepen in our hearts true care for them and for all for whom this night has no holiness or glimpse of the wonder of your love. We thank you that your gift is to us all, and that you patiently await our acceptance. Bring us all, dear Father, at the last to know it and to receive it.                   Amen.

 

Tuesday 25th December (Christmas Day).

          Loving Father, 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 as your faithful stewards, knowing that you have touched every part of it with your loving hands.        Amen.

 

Wednesday 26th December.

          The Metropolitan Water Company, noting a 50% increase in water demand across Europe over the last 10 years, has installed a water recycling system on the roof of Middlesex University Bounds Green campus. Water previously used for washing is pumped up to roof level where it passes through the roots of low-growing flowering plants to be cleansed by bacterial action. After disinfection, it joins filtered rainwater in a “green water holding tank”. This feeds the toilet cisterns and garden taps, using pipework separate from the drinking water supply. This solution seems ideal for new and refurbished housing blocks where land is scarce and expensive. For details ring 020 8741 6505.

 

Thursday 27th December.

          The cork oak forests of the Iberian peninsula, home to the Imperial Eagle and the Iberian Lynx, are under increasing threat as the wine trade turns to plastic corks in an effort to reduce contamination. In a recent survey 84% of wine-drinkers were found to prefer natural cork. The RSPB has called on supermarkets to label their own-brand wine bottles to show whether the corks are natural or synthetic. Somerfield, responding to the demand, has produced a code of practice for the production and storage of natural corks. Other major retailers have agreed to similar quality controls which, it is hoped, will restore the reputation of natural cork for safe storage of wine, and so save the cork oak forests.

 

Friday 28th December.

          Fifty years ago, no less than 30,000 different varieties of rice were grown in India. Now just 10 varieties cover 75% of rice-growing areas. In Holland a single potato variety now covers 80% of the land under potatoes. The same story is repeated worldwide. Seed banks are only part of the answer: half a million seeds are no good if they are not out in the field adapting to new predators. The patenting of new seed varieties by commercial seed companies has not helped to maintain diversity. Back in 1983, the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation put together a voluntary treaty. Now the new International Undertaking on Plant Genetic Resources for Food & Agriculture is being negotiated and, if agreed, could make some seeds exempt from patenting, though it is unlikely that the biotech.companies will suurender much to public access without a fight.

 

Saturday 29th December.

          A paper in “Nature” last year identified 25 “biodiversity hotspots” covering just 1.4% of the world’s land mass, but containing 44% of its plant species and 35% of its birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. However, 1.1 billion people live in these “hotspots”, many of them among the poorest in the world, and many in the midst of civil conflicts. The challenge is to find better farming techniques, better natural resource management practices, better institutions and policies that will enable them to prosper without damaging their environment. “Future Harvests”, a project run by a network of 16 food & environment research centers has identified many examples of land-use systems that combine agricultural production with biodiversity conservation. The concept of “ecoagriculture” can provide a unified strategy both to feed people and to protect wild diversity. Pray for its success.

 

Sunday 30th December.

          Lord, as we stand at the threshold of a New Year, with seeds in our hands, help us to find the strength and the understanding to sow them in good ground, to tend them wisely and to give you the glory. Amen.

 

Monday 31st December.

          After many years of negotiation, the British Columbian Government has announced a decision to protect nearly a million acres of the coastal forest known as the Great Bear rainforest, home to the grizzly, black and the rare ghost-white Spirit Bear. Twenty pristine valleys will be fully protected from all development, while another sixty-four will have logging deferred for 1-2 years while negotiations continue. The protected areas are widely separated and conservationists are keeping up the pressure to ensure that the whole of this forest gets the protection it deserves. For details visit www.raincoast.org

 

Additional Prayers:

 

Sources:

GREENPEACE BUSINESS

RENEW

RESURGENCE

SPLICE

UNDERSTANDING GLOBAL ISSUES

 

For further information and prayer request please write to:

Philip Clarkson Webb

15 Valley View

Southborough

Tunbridge  Wells

Kent TN4 0SY


Copyright © 2000-2003 Philip Clarkshon Webb and Christian Ecology Link     http://www.christian-ecology.org.uk     email: CEL web editor

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