The eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,
We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield.
In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.
May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord,
even as we put our hope in you.”
God has not given us a sense of beauty, an enjoyment of food and wine,
an ear for music, in order to tempt and test us.
But we must not put our trust in them,
or regard them as the purpose for our lives.
Our freedom from such a dependence is a mark of our conversion.
Saturday 1 st January.
Referring to climate change, Desmond Tutu, former Archbishop of Capetown, has said:
“I urge governments, development and environmental organisations to work together to find sustainable solutions to avert a catastrophe that will exacerbate human suffering to a magnitude that perhaps the world has not seen.”
Already the annual cost of extreme weather events attributable to global warming is over $6 billion. According to research at the University of East Anglia, a global increase of 2 degrees C. by 2050 could result in:
an extra 228 million people at risk from malaria;
an extra 12 million at risk of hunger as crop yields fall;
an extra 2.2 billion at risk from water shortages, especially in the subtropics;
an extra 20 million at risk from coastal flooding.
Yet the investment needed to expand energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives is a small fraction of the $6 billion a year outlay due to extreme weather events.
Sunday 2 nd January.
Loving Father, we thank you for so many answered prayers in recent years. We thank you that, following pronouncements by political, religious and scientific leaders, few can now doubt the dangers we face if we continue to put our own material comforts before the well-being of the world that you created. Help us, through this coming year, to be steadfast in your service, speaking the truth in love and framing our message in such a way as to attract as well as to challenge.
Monday 3 rd January.
Micro-renewable energy includes household systems such as solar heating, PV solar electricity, wood-burning and other biomass systems. Micro-wind turbines are also becoming available. Although each unit is small, micro-renewables can avoid the costs and inefficiencies associated with the transmission of conventional electricity. Costs are coming down as demand grows for micro-renewables. For more information visit www.r-p-a.org.uk
Tuesday 4 th January.
UK development plans call for 2 million new homes to be built by 2020. If each one was fitted with a 2.5kW photovoltaic array, the combined capacity would be 50,000 MW. The annual output of these systems would replace more than half the contribution of nuclear power today. As domestic energy accounts for 30% of total UK consumption, domestic solar thermal systems would contribute one-sixth of the 60% reduction in CO2 emissions needed by 2050.
Wednesday 5 th January.
Cavity wall insulation, double glazing and condensing boilers have become widespread owing to changes in Building Regulations. Micro-renewables could become equally widespread through regulations. However, the 2005 revision of Building Regulations makes only a small step in this direction. Similarly, the Renewables Obligation enables big power companies to get 7-8p. per kwh for renewable power generated in industrial-scale power plants, but the metering requirements and mountain of paperwork needed put registration beyond the means of most householders and small businesses.
Thursday 6 th January.
Today begins the Soil Association's 4-day annual conference at Newcastle upon Tyne . Among the speakers are Wendell Berry, farmer and poet, Colin Tudge, author of “So Shall We Reap”, and broadcaster Sheila Dillon. Over 50 seminars range from farming to aquaculture and an organic art exhibition. Joint organizers with the Soil Association are the EU-funded project Quality Low Input Food. For information ring 0117 987 4586 or visit: www.qlif.org
Friday 7 th January.
The EU Competitiveness Council has banned some phthalates used in soft toys and childcare articles. Phthalates, widely used as softeners in PVC toys, increase a child's risk of developing asthma and other allergies: some of them include known reproductive toxins. However, resistance from the chemicals industry has exempted three of these softeners (DINP, DIDP and DNOP), which may still be used in toys for children over 3-years old. Marks & Spencer, H & M, Ikea and Samsung are already committed to phase out these hazardous substances. Legislation is essential to draw the rest of the industry into line.
Saturday 8 th January.
Asahi Breweries, Japan 's leading beer producer, has suspended its previously-announced plans to introduce plastic, non-recyclable, non-returnable PET bottles to its operations. A Greenpeace campaign of open letters, cyber-action and web opinion polls has led to this about-turn. Campaigners everywhere will note this success for people-power and draw lessons from it.
Sunday 9 th January.
“Unless the Lord builds the house,
Its builders build in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
The watchmen stand guard in vain.” (Psalm 127)
Lord, we pray for all who hold authority in our land, for the Queen, for Prince Charles, for all politicians and scientists, judges and civil servants. May they be conscious of your hand in their decisions, and may they act to the furtherance of your kingdom and to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Monday 10 th January.
National Lottery-funded projects known to have used timber from endangered forests include:
the £25.5 million refurbishment of Glasgow 's Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum;
Cardiff 's £40 million Millennium Stadium, which includes timber decking from African forests that are home to the great apes;
the Kennet & Avon Canal 's new £25 million lock gates, made from timber sourced from a company involved in illegal arms dealing in Liberia ;
(possibly) Wembley Stadium and Shoreditch Town Hall , both of which are being investigated.
Work stopped on the flooring contract at the Kelvingrove Museum when 100 Greenpeace activists entered the site and replaced the timber with wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Greenpeace is calling on the National Lottery to introduce guidelines on timber purchasing for all Lottery-funded projects.
Tuesday 11 th January.
Chilean author Isabel Allende is having the Spanish version of her book “ Forest of the Pygmies” printed by Random House Montadori on 100% recycled paper. Her UK publisher HarperCollins imports virgin pulp from Finland where ancient forests are still being logged and industry-dominated certification schemes are unsatisfactory. She comments: “I would like other publishers to follow the example set by my Spanish publisher.” In Canada 66 publishers are committed to phasing out ancient forest fibres from their books: since 2001 4.5 million books have been printed there on recycled paper made from post-consumer waste. In the UK “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix ” has been printed by Bloomsbury on part-recycled paper.
Wednesday 12 th January.
A report into the Finnish Forest Certification Scheme (FFCS) finds that, even after recent revisions, the scheme fails to prevent logging of old-growth forests and allows the destruction of important habitats of endangered species. It allows logging in areas crucial for reindeer grazing, so jeopardizing the livelihoods of Sami and Finnish people who rely on reindeer-herding. As a result, the German postal service now sells FSC-certified envelopes instead of envelope paper from northern Finnish mills, while in the UK , B & Q has altered its timber-purchasing policy to exclude FFCS products.
Thursday 13 th January.
The Indonesian Government has declared a new national park: the Tesso Nilo NP will cover 40,000 hectares of Sumatra 's last lowland forests. The area is threatened by illegal logging and a legal pulp and paper mill operated by Asia Pulp & Paper (APP). Some UK companies continue to buy paper produced by APP from endangered forests. Tessa Nilo is home to 3% of the world's mammal species and more than 4,000 plant species – some of the highest levels of plant diversity known to science. WWF is urging provincial forestry departments and local police to prosecute illegal loggers, negotiating with companies to release more logging concessions and working with local people to create alternative livelihoods for those who might otherwise take part in illegal logging.
Friday 14 th January.
Brazil 's FSC-certified forests now amount to nearly 1.25 million hectares of Amazonian forest and more than a million hectares of plantations. Forests certified by FSC-credited bodies as managed sustainably now total 46 million hectares in 62 countries: several thousand timber products come from these forests. Claude Martin, WWF Director General, said: “In its first decade, FSC has shown that there is a business case for sustainable forestry. It has provided a solution that uses the market to encourage responsible forest management.” For more information visit: www.wwf.org
Saturday 15 th January.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), the investment arm of the World Bank, has pledged $110 million to a cattle-rearing project in the Brazilian Amazon run by a company called Bertin. America 's Sierra Club has called on the World Bank President, James Wolfensohn, to block the deal. Robert Goodland, a former World Bank official, believes the project violates the Bank's environmental standards. Already more than 13% of the world's biggest rainforest has given way mainly to cattle ranching and soya production, and deforestation continues at the rate of 9,000 sq. miles a year. Brazil is the world's biggest beef exporter and has recently passed the USA as the world's biggest soya producer.
Sunday 16 th January.
Lord, make me an instrument of thy power to combat evil;
Where there is sabotage of thy creation, let me strive to safeguard it.
Where greed seeks to destroy our moral heritage, let me be first to oppose it.
Where power and money combine to undermine our community life,
let me hasten to affirm the supremacy of love of neighbour.
Where there is passivity, deference and conformism to the giant powers of darkness, give me courage to radiate the light of truth. Amen.
Monday 17 th January.
The Government is committed to new legislation for the protection of our seas and marine life. Currently our seas are governed by hundreds of laws and policies that work in fragmented and often contradictory ways, leaving marine habitats unprotected. WWF is arranging a giant lobby of Parliament on March 9 th to demonstrate the urgent need to protect our seas and their wildlife. For details write to: Supporter Response Team, Marine Mass Lobby, WWF, Panda House, Godalming GU7 1XR.
Tuesday 18 th January.
A report from the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution is called “Turning the Tide: addressing the impact of fisheries on the marine environment.” It recommends that 30% of Britain 's seas be protected from fishing by the creation of marine reserves. “Intervention on this scale is necessary to preserve important ecosystems and to break the present cycle of unrealistic quotas and diminishing fish populations.” Sir Tom Blundell, RCEP chairman, said; “ It is hard to imagine that we would tolerate a similar scale of destruction on land, but because it happens at sea, the damage is largely hidden. On land we have had a planning system for over 50 years to control development and set aside areas or protection. Unless similar steps are taken at sea to allow recovery from decades of intensive fishing, species may disappear and the ecosystem itself be put in danger.” The report includes recommendations on fish farming, health aspects of eating fish and promoting strategic planning of all types of marine exploitation and development. It can be viewed on: www.rcep.org.uk
Wednesday 19 th January.
WWF believes that closed areas of sea must form part of a long-term solution, along with measures to reduce fishing fleets, to use more selective fishing gear, so reducing the amount of bycatch and discards, and to use onboard observers to monitor catch levels. “The only way we will ever have a thriving UK fishing industry again is to manage marine ecosystems for the long-term. We need to ensure both fish stock recovery and effective and fair management across all European fishing fleets.”
Thursday 20 th January.
The World Bank and IMF often attach harmful economic policies to new loans and debt-relief deals with developing countries. “Conditionality” as it is called has often come under fire from NGOs. Now the Government, in a draft policy paper, states: “It is inappropriate and ineffective for donors to impose policies on developing countries.” The World Bank has agreed to a far-reaching review of conditionality after its President, James Wolfensohn, declared that conditionality was no longer an issue. The IMF is also reviewing its conditions but, as WDM points out, a review is not the same as changes on the ground and pressure will need to be kept up. Website: www.wdm.org.uk
Friday 21 st January.
Barclays Bank, a signatory to the Equator Principles (which bind banks to social and environmental policies set by the World Bank), has provided a loan for the building of India's Omkareshwar Dam and the Trans-Thai-Malaysia Gas Pipeline. Neither project contains any plan for indigenous people who will be displaced or for local people whose fisheries are threatened by pollution. FoE comments: “Barclays is happy to talk about the importance of human rights for business, but is reluctant to put their principles into practice when it comes to work on the ground. Their continuing involvement in controversial dam and pipeline projects will not convince the public or investors that Barclays is serious about human rights an the Equator Principles.”
Saturday 22 nd January.
Today at the City of London School for Girls, Barbican, there will be an afternoon discussion on “The Future of Food” with speakers Vandana Shiva, Dr. Caroline Lucas MEP, Colin Tudge, author of “So Shall We Reap”, Tim Lang, author of “Food Wars” and Satish Kumar, editor of Resurgence. The meeting is from 2.30 to 7.30. Tickets @ £20 (£15 concessions) from Peter Lang on 0208 809 2391 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sunday 23 rd January.
Loving Father, you sent your Son to be a light to those who walk in darkness. May we who have brought your creation to the edge of darkness see the new path that we must tread, in the power of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Monday 24 th January.
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a branch of the World Bank, has invested $23.5 billion in the developing world during 2004 and, in reviewing its environmental and social disclosure policies, is moving from binding rules to flexible and subjective standards. Civil society groups have boycotted this consultation. FoE comments: “More flexibility is another way to avoid commitments. The World Bank has an obligation to protect the interests of local people and their environment. We want to see stronger rules dedicated to their protection, not “flexible” standards dedicated to the protection of big business interests.” The groups are calling on the IFC to:
meet the highest environmental and social standards and ensure that corporations respect international human rights and environmental law as conditions for access to IFC loans;
commit and hold itself accountable to deliver on its stated mission of poverty reduction and sustainable development;
establish clear mechanisms for making the policies more accountable and reject proposals for self-monitoring by corporations;
screen all companies for their past performance on environmental, human rights and labour issues;
ensure that conditions are in place for meaningful and respectful engagement with affected communities and respect indigenous peoples' rights.
Tuesday 25 th January.
The 4 th Greenpeace Business Lecture takes place at 6.30 today at the Royal Society of Arts, London , on “People, Climate & Natural Resources”. The speaker, Lord Oxburgh, is chairman of Shell and has admitted that the threat of climate change makes him “really very worried for the planet” and that he sees little hope for the world unless CO2 emissions are dealt with. Contact by e-mail: email@example.com
Wednesday 26 th January.
“The Corporation” is a documentary film, on release to selected British cinemas, which examines the manipulation of two concepts: corporate responsibility and social responsibility, both of which are becoming ever more blurred and abused terms. Without seeking to demonise companies, it illustrates some consequences of current business practices and the “complex ideological polemic on which the concept of corporate responsibility relies.” Featuring Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky, Naomi Klein and Vandana Shiva, it provokes much-needed debate on corporate growth and sustainability. Website: www. thecorporation.com/uk
Thursday 27 th January.
“Domestic Tradable Quotas” (DTQs) is a system of electronic rationing of fuel consumption with two aims:
to provide an efficient and equitable means of reducing emissions of CO2 which are contributing to climate change;
to provide an efficient and equitable fuel rationing system in the likely event of scarcities of oil and gas.
For reasons of climate change, or supply of fossil fuels, or both, the global economy must take a steep path towards drastic reduction in dependence on fossil fuels. This will not be managed without turbulence unless we have a sense of collective purpose, which exists only where individuals can fulfil their own aims by actions that promote the public good. The conditions that achieve this do not happen by accident. The connection between private and public advantage needs to be explicit. Hence the need for an equitable system of electronc rationing and co-operation. DTQs provide one possible system. For further details visit: www.dtqs.org
Friday 28 th January.
San Francisco , one among many US cities developing climate action plans, aims to slash CO2 emissions by 2.5 million tons by 2012 – a 20% cut below 1990 figures. According to Gavin Newsom, the city's mayor, “the Bush administration is not paying attention.” His plans target emission reductions from cars, power plants and commercial buildings, and he aims to develop renewable energy technologies such as solar, wind, fuel cells and tidal power and to expand residential and commercial recycling programmes.
Saturday 29 th January.
Photovoltaic panels on the roof of Simon Roberts's house in Lambeth supply 80% of the fuel he uses. His own kerbside electric car charger re-charges the batteries of his Peugeot 106. He has no worries about the price of fuel and sells his surplus electricity to Ecotricity through their Renewable Rewards scheme. He says he did it to prove that it can be done. He explains: “I'm trying to be an eco-warrior without changing my lifestyle too much.” For further information ring Ecotricity on 01453 756111.
Sunday 30 th January.
Lord God, you have given us great power for good or evil. You have endowed us with gifts that, used wisely, could halt the destruction of the biosphere on which we all ultimately depend. Send your gifts of wisdom on all who are engaged in developing the technologies that, in our perplexity, we are going to need as we see what is happening to the world's climate and the earth, air and sea all around us. Give them integrity and firmness of purpose, that no selfish considerations may tempt them to deviate from their chosen path. This we ask for the sake of your Son, who died to save your world.
Monday 31 st January.
The Parliament of World Religions, meeting in Barcelona last autumn, drew nearly 8,000 members of diverse religious communities with commitments for action on religious violence, access to safe water, the fate of refugees worldwide and the elimination of developing countries' debts. Dirk Ficca, executive director, said: “The Council for the Parliament will monitor and support the implementation of the commitments through a web-based communications network and best practice manuals.” For further information visit: www.wie.org and www.big-picture.tv
Living Earth (Soil Association)