“The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it,
The world, and all who live in it;
For he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Who may ascend the hill of the Lord?
Who may stand in his holy place?
He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
Who does not lift up his soul to an idol or swear by what is false.”
“See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.”
“For God so loved the Cosmos that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Wednesday 1 st December.
At the St. Paul 's lectures in September Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, was asked: “What can the churches do to help the ecological crisis?”
His answer: “Churches need to look at their own operation and audit it with these issues in mind. It is no good the church simply raising the issue, it really does need to set some sort of example: development of eco-congregations has been an important element here. The church's public backing of certain specific projects – I think here of the Contraction and Convergence agenda – that would help, but I think churches simply need to look at how they themselves use and relate to the environment.” For details of eco-congregations write to Jo Rathbone, The Arthur Rank Centre, Stoneleigh, Warwicks. CV8 2LZ. To obtain details of environmental audits write to: CEL Resources, 40 The Avenue, Roundhay, Leeds LS8 1JG.
Thursday 2 nd December.
Today the Chancellor of the Exchequer makes his Pre-Budget Statement. He could, if he chose, encourage all of us to save energy and use less polluting forms of energy. For example:
Will he encourage households and small businesses to install small-scale renewable energy, such as solar panels or tubes, by increasing installation grants?
Will he encourage homeowners to be more energy-efficient by cutting VAT on DIY insulation from 17.5% to 5% and reducing stamp duty on energy-efficient homes?
Will he ensure that new homes are built to the highest energy-efficient standards?
Friday 3 rd December.
Today, the anniversary of the Bhopal disaster, the Rachel Carson Memorial Lecture takes place at 6.30 at the Museum of London , Barbican. The subject: “Force Fed: how our newly-industrialised food system leads to environmental and human degradation.” The speaker: Felicity Lawrence, author of “Not On The Label” and winner of the BBC Food & Farming Award for investigative journalism. Tickets £25. Contact: Anne Scalera at Pesticide Action Network, 56-64 Leonard Street , London EC2A 4JX or ring 020 7065 0908 or fax 020 7065 0907 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday 4 th December.
Blood tests on 14 European Environment Ministers, including our own Alun Michael MP, have shown, in every case, contamination with a minimum of 33 chemicals including brominated flame-retardants, perfluorooctanic acid, breakdown products of DDT and 25 different PCBs, two of which have been banned since the 1970s. Many of these chemicals have been found in polar bears, dolphins, birds of prey and other species, even in remote environments. 86% of the 2,500 chemicals used in large quantities have no published safety information, though research increasingly links chemicals to cancers, allergies, reproductive problems and defects in children's development. For more information, visit: www.wwf.org.uk/news or www.soilassociation.org/pesticides
Sunday 5 th December.
Loving Father, you sent your Son to be a light to those who walk in darkness. May we who have brought your creation, the winds, waters, lands, creatures and our own kind to the edge of darkness, see the new path that we must tread, through the power of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Monday 6 th December.
Emissions from aircraft account for 3.5% of greenhouse gas emissions. They are the fastest growing source of emissions and they will remain outside the Kyoto Protocol until at least 2012. So what can we do? Here are some suggested questions:
Is my journey necessary, or can it be achieved by a less polluting form of transport?
What are the carbon emissions caused by my flight? A trip to New York and back involves 3,930 kg. of CO2 emissions, to Capetown and back 6,410 kg. and to Melbourne and back 11,090 kg.
How can I compensate for the pollution I have caused? Some do this by contributing to tree-planting schemes, others by investing in renewable energy for developing countries.
Useful websites: www.futureforests.com and www.chooseclimate.org
Tuesday 7 th December.
According to the National Travel Survey (which excludes international travel) each of us now travels on average 60% more miles a year than 30 years ago. Travel by car accounts for 83% of the distance travelled. Nearly half a million new cars are purchased annually; if parked end to end, these cars alone would stretch for 2,000 miles. A new book of tips for reducing car use and using them more efficiently is:
“Cutting your car use: save money, be healthy, be green!” by A.Semyon
(Green Books tel. 01803 863260).
Wednesday 8 th December.
According to Mayer Hillman in “How We Can Save the Planet” (Penguin £7.99), if we are to peg CO2 levels in the atmosphere to 450 ppm. by 2050 (they are now at 380 ppm. & rising at the rate of at least 2 ppm. a year), carbon rationing must be introduced as soon as possible, much on the lines of wartime food rationing. Current carbon emissions per person are 5.4 tonnes a year. This must be reduced to 1.5 tonnes by 2030 if we are to keep CO2 levels to 450 ppm.
Thursday 9 th December.
The Government's target is a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. Over the period 1998-2002 British industry emitted 252.9 million tonnes of CO2 a year. Under the new EU Emissions Trading Scheme, due to start in January, British industry will be allowed to emit 252.0 million tonnes a year – a cut of 0.35%. At this rate, it will take 500 years to reach the 60% reduction target. Greenpeace comments: “Tony Blair seems to have been hoodwinked by the totally discredited argument that cutting emissions is bad for competitiveness. Cutting out the wasteful use of energy will improve our economy, not damage it. This is just another example of how vested interests with loud voices and deep pockets can drive policy in the wrong direction.”
Friday 10 th December.
Today the 2004 Right Livelihood Awards will be presented in the Swedish Parliament. Bianca Jagger from Nicaragua, one of the recipients, has since 1990 been on fact-finding missions to Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, remote rainforests in Brazil and Ecuador, to Bosnia, Kosovo, Zambia, Iraq, India and Pakistan. Most recently she has witnessed the devastation caused in Ecuador by Texaco's oil operations, which have dumped twice as much oil into the rainforest as was spilled in the Exxon Valdez disaster. “My visits lead me to conclude that until ChevronTexaco addresses the environmental damage it has caused in Ecuador , it should be treated as an outlaw company that does not deserve the right to do further business or make further investments in any country anywhere in the world.”
Saturday 11 th December.
Domestic energy use is now 30% of the total energy use in Britain . Joanna Collins in her Green Alliance report “A Micro-Generation Manifesto” says that micro-CHP boilers (burning woodchips or gas to produce both heat and power), mini-wind turbines and photovoltaic arrays need to become familiar household features in order to forge the vital link between our concern about climate change and our energy consumption in the home. A private member's bill is to be introduced in Parliament by Lord Redesdale including provisions:
To exempt small private wind turbines from the need for planning permission;
To oblige electricity companies to buy back surplus power generated by their customers;
To set targets of renewable energy generation for every local authority.
Sunday 12 th December.
Lord, may your bounty teach us greatness of heart.
May your magnificence stop us being mean.
Seeing you a prodigal and open-handed giver,
Let us give unstintingly, like a king's son, like God's own.
(Archbishop Helda Camara)
Monday 13 th December.
A decentralised power network based on renewable energy would be more resilient in the face of disruption from terrorism or weather extremes. As US journalist Carl Frankel puts it: “Terrorists might be able to take down a power plant, but how could they possibly sabotage thousands of micropower sources in homes that the central plant once served?” The need to build vast numbers of new homes and to re-furbish so many schools and hospitals provides an unparalleled opportunity to instal mini-wind turbines, solar heating and ground-source heat pumps. With government backing, such developments could become economically viable within a few years.
Tuesday 14 th December.
If we are to achieve the Government's target of a 60% reduction in CO2 emissions by 2050, some form of carbon rationing is inevitable. Food rationing in wartime was accepted because it was both necessary and fair. A fair system would offer each of us an equal number of carbon units a year, each unit allowing the emission of 1 kilogram of CO2 . Smart cards would record the expenditure of units each time anyone bought fuel or power. If you want to buy petrol but lack the units, you can access a national database where units can be bought and sold. Year by year the total number of units issued will go down, while the cost of buying extra units will rise. Richard Starkey and Kevin Anderson of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research admit that there are many problems to be overcome. However, Colin Challen MP has recently introduced a bill in Parliament which has given an airing to a question which, sooner or later, we will all have to address.
Wednesday 15 th December.
TV viewers will have been shocked to see a Chinese recycling centre where electronic goods from Western Europe , such as computers and mobile phones, are taken to pieces for recycling the useable parts, while the rest is dumped. An estimated 1.5 million obsolete PCs are buried each year in UK landfill sites together with their toxic contents – lead, arsenic and mercury. The EU Waste, Electrical & Electronic Equipment Directive issued last month lays down the principle that manufacturers are responsible for the eventual disposal of their products. An industry which has thrived on built-in obsolescence to force a quick turnover of new products will now have to obtain a waste management licence or find a licensed company to dispose of their old computers. A UN report has found that an ordinary PC and monitor uses 1.8 tonnes of raw materials – 640 times the weight of the equipment itself. However, modern Ultra Thin Clients (UTC) devices, though lacking the processing power of ordinary PCs, provide a gateway to a data centre and don't need changing with every upgrade. They run at about 15 watts instead of the average of 250 watts and use around 90% less energy, so the reductions in power consumption and heat generation are significant. For details visit: www.sun.com
Thursday 16 th December.
Wind turbines have had a mixed reception. For example:
“They will carpet the countryside”. In fact, 1500 turbines of 2-4 MW capacity (in addition to the existing 1000) plus 1500 offshore turbines would be enough to attain the UK target for 2010.
“Wind's contribution is trivial.” In fact, onshore wind could theoretically meet 80% of our current electricity demand. With offshore wind, it could sort us out ten times over. Source: the DTI.
“If the wind doesn't blow, we are snookered.” Average output would certainly be only 30% of the theoretical maximum, but the average output of all forms of power generation is only around 50% and any national grid is designed to cope with variations in supply.
“It's too expensive.” In fact, at 3-4 p. per kwh, it is comparable with coal at 2.5-4.5 p. per kwh, even without any subsidy, and is getting cheaper all the time.
“Turbines chop up birds and bats” (David Bellamy). Yet the RSPB has backed a new nature reserve for lapwings and curlews around the Moel Moelogan wind farm. More than 10 million birds a year are killed by cars. At the wind farm off Blyth in Northumberland, just 1-2 birds are killed per year per turbine.
Friday 17 th December.
Coal still produces 40% of global electricity and is the biggest single source of global carbon emissions. A new report for WWF by Ilex Energy Consulting shows how the power sector could save itself £1.9 billion by 2010 and £4 billion in new investment by 2020, simply by investing in wind, biomass and combined heat & power. All that is needed is stronger targets for energy efficiency, emissions trading and renewable energy.
Saturday 18 th December.
The Carbon Trust is a government-supported body which is fostering innovation and development in low-carbon technology and energy efficiency, and promoting new solutions to tackle climate change. The Carbon Trust Innovation Awards 2005 are open to individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses of all sizes, academic institutions, research facilities and the public sector. Three of the four categories focus on technological innovation, while the fourth targets energy efficiency. The winners will be announced at a ceremony in central London on 21 st April 2005 . For more details visit: www.telegraph.co.uk/carbontrust or call 0207 531 3349. Closing date for entries: January 7 th 2005 .
Sunday 19 th December.
“A wind has blown across the world
and tremors shake its frame.
New things are struggling to their birth,
and naught shall be the same.
The earth is weary of its past
of folly, hate and fear.
Beyond a dark and stormy sky
the dawn of God is near.” (F.C. Happold)
Monday 20 th December.
Beaufort Court , the refurbished site of Ovaltine Egg Farm in Hertfordshire, just beside the M25, is powered by a 50-metre high wind turbine. Part of its annual 250 MWh output is fed back into the national grid. Its roof of photovoltaic and thermal panels produces extra electricity and captures heat, which is stored in the summer in an underground “hot water bottle”, where it is expected to keep around 50% of its thermal energy until it is needed in the winter. In the heat of summer, groundwater extracted from a borehole at 12 0 C. will cool the air and circulate through beams in the offices. The water used is pumped outside to irrigate the elephant grass (Miscanthus) which is grown to fuel a biomass boiler. The offices keep a daily record of energy use and emissions of SO x , NO x and CO2 . The company keeps a hybrid-electric Toyota Prius for staff use and a bevy of office bikes. Only the chickens are missing. For more information ring Beaufort Court on 01923 299203 or visit: www.beaufortcourt.com
Tuesday 21 st December.
Scientists at Leeds University have harnessed nickel and carbon-based catalysts to produce hydrogen from sunflower oil. The process can take place on any motor vehicle by means of an “on board reformer”. The hydrogen then goes straight to a fuel cell to generate the energy needed to drive the car. The storage of hydrogen has always been a problem. “Now”, says Dr. Andrew Moss of the research team, “Instead of storing hydrogen on the vehicle, you would use a conventional biofuel.” For details ring Leeds University on 0113 343 2444 or visit: www.leeds.ac.uk/speme
Wednesday 22 nd December.
UK Fisheries Minister Ben Bradshaw, responding to public concern about the deaths of hundreds of dolphins in trawl nets, has announced an immediate ban on the dragging of half-mile-wide nets between two boats in search of sea bass. However, the ban can only be enforced within Britain 's 12-mile territorial limit. Beyond that, EU rules apply and it is feared that the same number of dolphins will be caught next year unless the EU Common Fisheries Policy is changed. Bradshaw intends to lead by example: marine conservation will be a priority when Britain takes over the EU presidency next year.
Thursday 23 rd December.
Britain 's first experimental marine no-take zone (NTZ) protects 3.3 sq. km. of water in the Bristol Channel east of Lundy Island . Although no results were expected in the first 2-3 years of the project, Mills Hoskins of the monitoring team reports that there are already three times as many landable-sized lobsters within the NTZ as there are in neighbouring areas still being fished. He hopes this will speed the development of other NTZs in UK waters. They have so far made little progress because of opposition from commercial fishing interests and lack of evidence that NTZs can benefit UK habitats. For more information ring English Nature on 01733 455000 or MER Consultants on 01326 373360 or visit: www.english-nature.org.uk
Friday 24 th December. Christmas Eve.
We praise you, God our Father, for your goodness in sending your Son to redeem all creation and we pray for Christians everywhere, that they may look far beyond their communities to the needs of the world outside, and especially to the world's 40 million refugees.
Saturday 25 th December. Christmas Day.
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes on him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.16) We praise and give you thanks, Father God, for your amazing goodness in sending your Son into our soiled and sinful world. Help us to care for your world and to hold it in trust for you, knowing that you have touched all of it with your loving hands. Amen.
Sunday 26 th December.
Father, we pray for all scientists, that they may combine zeal in research with care for the consequences for the world and its creatures;
For all politicians, that they may be delivered from self-seeking and the short view, and may recognize that they hold the world in trust;
For all who feel helpless as thy see the dangers to our world that they seem unable to influence. Help each one of us to see more clearly the part that we are called to play.
Monday 27 th December.
At last months's IUCN meeting in Bangkok , it was disclosed that 15,589 species now face extinction. The causes: human-induced habitat destruction, over-exploitation for food, pets and medicines, competition from alien species, pollution, disease and climate change. But Achim Steiner, IUCN Director-General, adds: “There are many examples of species being brought back from the brink, such as the white rhino and the black-footed ferret. Thousands of dedicated people around the world are doing their utmost to reverse these extinctions. But this cannot continue to be the task of the environmental community alone. Governments and business must commit to these efforts as well.”
Tuesday 28 th December.
The North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission has announced a temporary ban on bottom trawling and long lining over five sites in the N.E. Atlantic. However, many vulnerable areas remain unprotected, with unique coral systems and seamounts, such as Hatton Bank, which supports a 9,000 year old coral reef 30 metres high, and the western slope of Rockall Bank, where there is evidence of damage by trawling. 40% of the world's trawling grounds are in waters deeper than 200 metres and so threaten many deepwater species of fish which, because of the low temperatures, are slow to reproduce. Seamounts are essential breeding grounds for several fish species, including some of commercial importance.
Wednesday 29 th December.
Jacob von Uexkull, founder of the Right Livelihood Awards, and Herbert Girardet are among many who recognize that existing political structures, with their short-term views, are incapable of giving proper weight to long-term issues such as climate change. Their World Future Council is gathering together eminent individuals such as the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela whose role will be to lobby, inspire and hold our political leaders to account. Behind the scenes will be experts researching subjects ranging from sustainable use of the oceans to monetary and tax reform. The WFC Initiative has attracted core funding and will soon be pressing hard for a brave new world. For further information ring WFC on 020 7839 5162 or visit: www.worldfuturecouncil.org or read “Creating the World Future Council” (Green Books).
Thursday 30 th December.
The Norwegian island of Utsira (population 220), besides its well-known place in shipping forecasts, has gained new fame as the site of the world's first full-scale combined wind and hydrogen power plant, which opened in July. Two conventional wind turbines generate electricity: any excess power is converted to hydrogen for use in fuel cells whenever the wind is too light or strong for the blades to turn. The project has attracted many visitors, among them Roman Abramovich, owner of Chelsea Football Club and governor of Siberia's Chukotka province – a huge but desolate region with a population of 73,000 and an obvious interest in becoming self-sufficient in energy. Christopher Kloed, former head of Norsk Hydro's electrolyser unit, believes the technology could one day be equally applicable to the urban and industrial environment, especially if the price of fossil fuels continues to rise. For details visit Norsk Hydro on: www.hydro.com or ring +47 22 53 81 00.
Friday 31 st December. New Year's Eve.
Eternal God, before whose face the generations rise and pass away, to whom a thousand years are but as yesterday, as we meditate upon the solemn passing of time and turn our minds to the contemplation of eternity, save us from being enslaved to the temporal and the transient. Help us to look forward with hope and determination. Let our sins teach us how utterly we need you. So, marching forward into a New Year, make us brave, serene and strong, so that even in a world so full of suffering and grief, we may be as lamps shining in the darkness, helping to light the path which humanity must now tread, until at last its weary feet are guided into the way of peace, through Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord. (Leslie Weatherhead – adapted)
Further reading :
“The Little Earth Book” by James Bruges (Alastair Sawday)
“How We Can Save the Planet” by Mayer Hillman
“Ecological Audit for local churches” (Church in Society) tel.01622 755014
Country Way (Arthur Rank Centre)
Green Futures (Forum for the Future)
Living Earth (Soil Association)
Earthmatters (Friends of the Earth)