"The heavens declare the glory of God,
the skies proclaim the work of his hands . . .
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple."
(Psalm 19. 1&7)
Unlike God, nature is not infinite. The delicate balance that maintains
life, while amazingly forgiving and adaptable, has its limits. Balance
is maintained when the purpose of creation is maintained and God's
creatures live in love and care for each other because they are living
in love with God. But as soon as this balance is forgotten, then the
balance is upset." (Barbara Wood)
Monday 1st March
From today until the 14th is Fairtrade Fortnight, celebrating the
10th birthday of the Fairtrade Mark. Oxford is holding a Town Hall
reception followed by a Fairtrade Festival with music and supporters
dressed in banana costumes. Lancaster and York will remember ancient
rivalries by playing "Unfair Games" to symbolize the uneven
playing field in world trade. Southampton, on the 5th, will welcome
a banana boat from the Windward Islands with local bands, actors and
supporters dressed as Fairtrade foods. The bananas will be served
in hospitals and community centres with messages from the farmers.
Since 1994 millions of producers from Sri Lankan tea pluckers to Tanzanian
coffee farmers have been helped towards a better life. In 2002 alone
they received £20.3 million from European sales of Fairtrade
coffee. For more details visit www.fairtrade.org.uk
Tuesday 2nd March
"Ecological footprinting" is an attempt to quantify the
impact of human consumption on the environment. Each human on average
uses about 2 hectares to meet basic needs, but each person in Western
Europe and North America uses up to 10 hectares. According to WWF's
Living Planet Report 2002, human consumption already outruns the earth's
biological capacity by about 20% and would be over 3 times that capacity
if everyone consumed at the rate of North America. Since 1950, Africa
has lost 2.6 sq km of forest and woodland - an area as big as Argentina
- much of it due to clearance for cattle pasture and deforestation
for the timber industry. Japanese forests have been largely protected,
while the Japanese remain heavy buyers of tropical timber.
Wednesday 3rd March
At the 1994 UN conference on Population & Development in Cairo,
countries agreed to spend $17 billion a year on population & reproductive
health by 2000, but in that year only $11.2 billion was spent and
in 2001 the figure fell to $9.4 billion. The plan involves a blend
of solutions including education, gender equality, health care, sustainable
economic development and family planning. Most basic is a woman's
right to decide how many children to bear - a right taken for granted
in industrialized countries, but still all too rare in the developing
Thursday 4th March
In the West, a falling population has reduced the sense of urgency
on population issues. President Bush has already reduced US funding
for the UN Population Fund, the world's largest source of funding
for population and reproductive health programmes which help to provide
family planning advice and services to support safe pregnancy &
childbirth throughout the developing world.
Friday 5th March
Today is Women's World Day of Prayer, based on the theme "In
Faith Women Shape the Future". On it women around the world are
" Affirm their faith in Jesus
" Share their hopes and fears, joys and sorrows, opportunities
" Become aware of the whole world & no longer live in isolation
" Be enriched by the faith experience of Christians of other
countries & cultures
" Take up the burdens of other people & pray with and for
them to become aware of their talents and to use them in the service
For details of events, visit www.worlddayofprayer.net
Saturday 6th March
A day conference organized by "Sustainable World - Sustainable
Leicestershire" meets today at Christ Church, Clarendon Park
Road, Leicester. The keynote speaker, Michael Meacher MP, is followed
by presentations by each of four world religions on "Faith Perspectives
on the Environment & Sustainability". Later there are workshops
on energy conservation, fair trade, local food, recycling, sustainable
farming and sustainable transport. For details contact Penny Foster,
Christ Church, 105A Clarendon Park Road, Leicester LE2 3AH.
Sunday 7th March
Heavenly Father, you know, more than we, what is happening to us and
our world. We know that the way we live exploits and degrades your
creation. May your Holy Sprit enlighten our political leaders and
guide us to respect human rights and the living world. May life be
renewed - may your Name be magnified.
Monday 8th March
Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on a scale of less than
100 nanometres: one nanometer is 1,000,000th of a millimeter, or about
80,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. In theory, it
will allow the control of production of everything, since the properties
of all matter flow from their atomic arrangements. In 2002 over $2
billion was spent on nanotechnology by governments around the world.
The DTI estimates that the market for nanotechnology will reach over
$100 billion by 2005. By comparison, the global sales of pesticides
and seeds for agriculture are around $30 billion.
Tuesday 9th March
Nanoparticles, i.e. clusters of atoms of 100 nanometres or less, are
already used in many applications including sunscreens and bandages,
with little knowledge of their environmental and health impacts. Of
the $710 million being spent by the US Government on nanotechnology
only $500,000 is being spent on any environmental impact assessment.
We know that ultra-fine particles from cars and industrial processes
are a cause of ill-health through air pollution. Are we in danger
of making the same mistakes with nanotechnology that we made with
DDT and PCBs? Greenpeace believes there should be a moratorium on
the release of nanoparticles until they can be shown not to be hazardous.
Wednesday 10th March
A Toronto company has applied for patents on the carbon molecule buckminsterfullerene.
If ownership of molecules is allowed, it opens up a whole new world
for private ownership, and effectively cuts out the poor from reaping
the benefits from products of nature which hitherto have been regarded
as public property.
Thursday 11th March
The big challenge is to ensure that the kinds of possibilities and
products that flow from nanotechnology are the ones we want, and not
(as with GM crops) ones that the public rejects. It would be better
to do the right things from the start rather than attempting to control
some undesirable product when commercial interests have committed
huge resources into its development. Greenpeace therefore calls for
a Citizens' Jury to determine research priorities in nanotechnology.
This would be drawn from the agricultural, defence, energy, pharmaceutical
and IT sectors together with representatives of civil society and
Friday 12th March
The public seems increasingly unwilling to accept the word of a company
or government on the risks and benefits of technology. Designing research
agendas to meet public aspirations may be difficult to achieve, but
the alternative for us all is to be passive receivers of new technologies
concocted by a small number of technologists at the behest of the
companies which employ them. Scrutiny before financial & political
commitments become irreversible could be hugely beneficial as well
as being, quite simply, an exercise in democracy. For Greenpeace proposals
Saturday 13th March
According to Jonathon Porritt, an essential attribute of our model
of progress is speed: "Eat faster, get the news faster, communicate
faster, date faster, mate faster; life in the fast lane is the aspiration
of countless millions, regardless of the career crashes and life-wrecks
that litter that lane."
What drives the wheels of commerce and material progress includes:
efficiency, markets, productivity, growth, doing deals, taking risks,
making money. What generates real quality of life includes: friends,
children, food, music, having a good time, sport, hobbies, supportive
& safe communities, gardening, reading etc. How, he asks, in a
sustainable society do we balance our hunger for change, our insatiable
curiosity, our pioneering spirit, our ability to manipulate nature,
with other qualities that depend on a different rhythm - cultural
continuity, stable communities, time for reflection and spiritual
devotion, an enduring relationship with the natural world, with its
very different cycles, seasons and time-frames?
Sunday 14th March
O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels and all just
works do proceed; Give unto thy servants that peace which the world
cannot give; that both our hearts may be set to obey thy commandments;
and also that, by thee, we being defended from the fear of our enemies
may pass our time in rest and quietness; through the merits of Jesus
Christ our Saviour. (Book of Common Prayer)
Monday 15th March
At last September's WTO meetings at Cancun, Lee Kyung Hae, a Korean
farmer who was for 10 years President of the Korean Federation of
Small Farmers, climbed the barricades put up to keep people out of
the trade talks. Wearing a large sign "WTO kills Farming"
he stabbed himself to death. A note found on him read "I am taking
my life so that others may live."
Despite paying lip service to a "level playing field" and
to "free trade" WTO rules forced Korea to open its rice
markets to dumping by agribusiness giants such as Cargill and ConAgra.
In 2001 the cost of rice production in the USA was $18.66 a bushel,
but it was sold internationally at $14.55 a bushel. Farm prices are
now in free fall, driven down by export subsidies in rich countries.
Tuesday 16th March
The US Farm Act of 2002 increased agricultural subsidies by $82 billion,
enabling the USA to double its cotton exports and in so doing to destroy
the livelihoods of 250 million African cotton farmers. As a result,
African delegations at Cancun led a mass walk-out from the talks in
outrage at the refusal of rich countries to remove distortions and
unfairness in trade, and at their attempts to impose new disciplines
on investment competition and government procurement. Vandana Shiva
comments: "Economic democracy can only grow upwards like a tree,
with its roots in local ecosystems, cultures and economies, its trunk
supporting strong and vibrant national economies and its branches
nourishing and being nourished by international trade based on principles
of sustainability, justice and fairness".
Wednesday 17th March
Korean farmers are already being subsidized to produce less rice.
Now their government is constructing a 20-mile dyke to shut off the
seawater over the Saemanguem tidal lands, in order to claim 208 square
kilometers for commercial agriculture and industry. When it is completed,
20,000 water birds would lose their habitat, 158 species of fish would
vanish and 25,000 fishermen would lose their livelihood. Save Our
Saemanguem, supported by Catholics, Protestants and Buddhists, is
appealing for international help to urge the government to stop this
project, which violates the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
A court has ruled that the construction is illegal, but the government
has appealed and the outcome is uncertain. For an update, visit www.bkenglish.com/saemref.asp
Thursday 18th March
Community groups in Kent have stopped the building of an incinerator
in Canterbury with the capacity to burn 165,000 tonnes of waste a
year. FoE opposes new incinerators because they encourage waste, use
resources and energy inefficiently and can produce harmful toxins.
47 new incinerators are proposed in the country as a whole. To check
whether an incinerator is planned for your area, ring FoE Information
Service on Freephone 0808 800 1111.
Friday 19th March
The US Government last year filed a complaint with the WTO accusing
the EU of blocking trade through its policy on GM food imports. The
WTO will make its decision in secret and there will be no appeal.
If it decides that the US has a legitimate complaint, EU countries
(and probably the rest of the world) will have to accept GM food or
face sanctions. FoE comments: "The US is putting corporate profit
before people and the environment by arguing that Europe's legitimate
precautionary policy on GMOs is an "illegal barrier to free trade."
Saturday 20th March
A parliamentary bill, designed to force companies to report on their
social and environmental impacts and to place on directors a duty
of care for the environment and society, has been talked out in a
Commons debate, but will be re-introduced. As an example, palm oil
is present in 1 out of 10 supermarket products, such as processed
foods, cosmetics, crisps and cakes. It comes from huge plantations
in South East Asia and leads to destruction of rainforests, social
conflicts and human rights abuses on a massive scale. Few consumers
are aware of the problem, but once they were told, the companies concerned
would have every incentive to obtain palm oil products from sustainable
Sunday 21st March
Show us, Father, how to protect your creation, not just the plants
and animals, but the soil, air and water by which we live, so that
no-one may exploit or pollute them for their own profit or convenience.
Help us to cherish these necessities for our survival, and guide those
in authority to ensure that the human spirit is not starved in pursuit
of material comfort and wealth.
Monday 22nd March
The Household Waste Recycling Act became law last October. It requires
local authorities to collect two types of recyclable waste by 2010.
But currently it is cheaper for authorities to incinerate rather than
to recycle, since the Government effectively subsidises incineration
by £14.75 a tonne. Incineration contributes to high levels of
nitrous oxides, the dioxins given off by burning plastics are extremely
toxic and the toxic ash goes to landfill. FoE believes that a tax
of £10 a tonne should be placed on the incineration of household
waste, while recycling, which saves more energy, creates more jobs
and less greenhouse gas emissions, should receive subsidies of up
to £50 a tonne for the energy saved. For a list of 57 ways to
lose waste, ring Freephone 0808 800 1111.
Tuesday 23rd March
The highest rate of recycling in Britain (44%)is recorded by Daventry.
All Daventry's 35 councillors took part in the pilot scheme and supported
the introduction of weekly collections of recyclable items such as
paper, textiles, cans, glass and some plastics. Collections of garden
waste and cardboard alternate each week with collections of non-recyclable
waste. The service costs £56 per household per year, which is
not much more than the average for England and Wales. Daventry is
one of the few authorities that will avoid Government fines for missing
the recycling targets set in the Waste Strategy 2000. Lichfield achieved
its 33% recycling rate by inviting US magician Timothy Wenk to entertain
4,000 children with his magic recycling antics.
Wednesday 24th March
Today begins a 3-day conference at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick,
Derbyshire, entitled "20-20 Vision for Rural Britain". The
Rev. Dr. Michael Moynagh of the "Tomorrow Project" speaks
on the State of the Countryside in 2020 and suggests church scenarios
for that date. Prof. John Wibberley speaks on Globalisation and Prof.
Sir John Marsh on the Future of British Food & Farming. Enquiries
to Jenny Carpenter or Trish Brodrick on 024 7685 3060 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday 25th March
According to Dr. Henderson of the environmental consultancy Pisces
Conservation, an estimated 570 million fish longer than 3 cm. are
killed each year by being sucked into the 33 power stations on the
English, Irish and continental North Sea coasts. The 17 power stations
in the southern North Sea kill sole and herring equal to 50% of UK
commercial landings for that area. He asks: "What's the point
of having a conservation area if you have a power station in the middle
of it?" Yet New York State has ordered the Indian Point nuclear
power station (which kills 1.2 billion marine organisms a year) to
install a new cooling system to reduce wildlife losses, to shut down
one of its two reactors for 42 days a year and to pay £14.1
million a year to a river protection fund.
Friday 26th March
A report commissioned by DEFRA from consultancy ERM has found that
average fines for environmental offences fell by 47% between 1999
and 2002 and that fewer than 25% of magistrates are familiar with
sentencing guidelines for environmental offences. David Stott, prosecutor
for the Environment Agency comments: "The 800 cases from us each
year are shared among 28,000 magistrates. What are the chances of
any one of these seeing any of our cases? We would like to see specific
magistrates and judges appointed to deal with environmental offences.
With offences by companies, we want to see higher fines and more imaginative
penalties, such as making them pay a bond to the court for a fixed
Saturday 27th March
More than 1,100 scientists have called on the UN and world governments
to stop the destruction of deep-sea corals by placing a moratorium
on the use of heavy trawling gear that gouges coral and sponges from
the ocean bottom in search of valuable fish. According to one of them:
"Bottom trawling is like fishing with bulldozers." Only
recently have scientists discovered deep coral fields off Japan, Tasmania,
New Zealand, Alaska, British Columbia, California, Nova Scotia, Maine,
N.Carolina, Florida, Colombia, Brazil, Norway, Sweden, the UK, Ireland
and Namibia. Dr. Daniel Pauly of the University of British Columbia
said that many fishermen he had spoken to recognized the need to move
away from bottom trawling, but cannot stop what they are doing because,
if they do, in the absence of regulation, they will be beaten by those
who go out and continue to destroy the reefs. "The fishermen
are onside, but it's time for policymakers to get behind this bandwagon."
Sunday 28th March
Lord, we have violated, and are still violating your creation. We
have planted pollution like grain and are reaping a harvest of desolation.
Redeem us, dear Lord, by the power of your Holy Spirit from the destruction
we have wrought. Turn our hearts back to you and our lives to the
service of your creation. Help us to learn our proper place in your
world. The earth is yours and you have put us here to care for and
protect it. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ who died to redeem
Monday 29th March
A Europe-wide campaign to ban night flights at all European airports
was launched at "sleep-in" outside a London conference on
the subject. The WHO recommends that night noise heard in bedrooms
should not exceed 45 decibels, but the noise of a plane landing 15
miles away can be over 60 decibels, leading to increased heart rates
and day-after effects such as depressed moods. Copies of a declaration
calling on the European Parliament to introduce legislation for a
ban on night flights between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. are available from
Richard Dyer at Friends of the Earth. If 318 MEPs sign it, it will
be debated in the European Parliament before the elections in June.
Tuesday 30th March
Government figures for 2003 have shown an increase of 3% in carbon
dioxide emissions from energy use. This amounts to an extra 4.5 million
tonnes of carbon dioxide. The Government's target is a reduction by
2010 of 20% from 1997 levels. The reasons for the increase are a 2%
rise in energy demand and a switch from gas to coal burning, which
produces 2-3 times more carbon emissions. FoE comments: "These
appalling figures highlight the urgent need for tougher action on
climate change, the biggest threat the planet faces. Government policy
is obviously not working. They must not wait until next year's climate
review. They must put our climate strategy back on track now."
Wednesday 31st March
New figures from the European Pollutant Emission Register lists sources
of emissions of 50 pollutants in EU countries. Britain tops the emission
tables for greenhouse gases, acid rain gases, chlorinated solvents
and metals. Among the worst offenders are:
" AES Drax power station, emitting 49,000 tonnes of nitrous oxides
linked to acid rain;
" Carpenter of Glossop, emitting 513 tonnes of dichloromethane
linked to cancer and genetic damage;
" Ineos Chlor of Runcorn, with emissions of trichloroethylene,
trichloromethane and dichloroethane, all linked to cancer.
The list is far from complete. Bulk wastes are not reported, nor are
emissions from the nuclear or mining industries. More comprehensive
data is available on the Environment Agency website: http://18.104.22.168/asp/1_introduction.asp
World Population (Understanding Global Issues)