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“Is there anyone among you who, if your child asks for bread, will give a stone? Or if the child asks for a fish, will give a snake? If you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7.9-11)
“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.” (Phil. 4.6)
“Coming before God in prayer is the central God-given human task, the one by which, whether spectacularly or quietly, everything is transformed.” (Tom Wright)
Wednesday 1st November
The UN reports that 815 million people, or 11% of the world population, went hungry in 2016 – an increase of 38 million on the previous year. This was largely due to a rise in conflict zones and climate-related shocks. The FAO estimates that 37 countries are currently in need of food aid. Weather shocks including hurricanes in the Caribbean and droughts in East Africa, combined with the increase in conflicts, have resulted in production shortfalls.
Thursday 2nd November
The UN Department for Economic & Social Affairs reports that the current world population of 7.6 billion will reach 8.6 billion in 2030 and 9.8 billion in 2050. The 47 least-developed countries will see their populations more than triple by 2100. These projections are based on the assumption that continued improvements in family planning will lead to reductions in fertility. “It will be essential to support improvements in access to reproductive healthcare, especially in the least-developed countries, with a focus on enabling women and couples to achieve their desired family size.”
Friday 3rd November
As Africa’s population is predicted to rise from 1.3 billion today to 2.5 billion by 2050, many African leaders believe that a growing and youthful population could produce economic benefits. However, according to the UN Economic Commission for Africa, while 12 million young people enter Africa’s workforce each year, the continent as a whole creates an average of only 3.7 million jobs a year. Burgeoning populations are also bound to increase pressure on natural resources – food, water and energy.
Saturday 4th November
According to the Office of National Statistics, Britain’s population is likely to reach 70 million by 2030, making it the most populous nation in Europe. Media comments have focused chiefly on the ageing population and its economic effects. However, Population Matters comments: “The simple solution of adding more young people to care for old people or pay for their care is fundamentally flawed: these young people will themselves become old and require support. A lower birth rate, however, reduces the number of dependent children, which boosts the economy by liberating money for individuals and families to invest in pensions, for instance, and making more people available for paid employment.”
Sunday 5th November
Father, we pray for a vision of your world as your love would make it:
A world where the weak are protected and none go hungry or poor;
A world where the benefits of life are fairly shared;
A world where nations, races, cultures and religions live with mutual respect;
A world where peace is built with justice, and justice is guided by love, and that we may have the courage and inspiration to play our part in building it.
Monday 6th November
According to the World Bank, China produces 10.2 kilotons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the US 5.1 kilotons and India 2.03 kilotons. But there is immense disparity in per capita emissions. A UK citizen produces 70 times more CO2 than someone from Niger. Whereas per capita emissions are slowly reducing in developed countries, in China and India they are growing steeply.
Tuesday 7th November
A study from Lund University and the University of British Columbia has highlighted the top ‘high-impact’ actions individuals can take to reduce their carbon emissions. It identified four actions in particular:
- Having one less child,
- Living car-free,
- Avoiding air travel,
- Eating a plant-based diet.
Of these, having one child less saves nearly 25 times more emissions than the next most effective measure – living car-free – 58.6 tonnes of CO2 equivalent compared to 2.4 tonnes.
Wednesday 8th November
Population numbers affect almost every aspect of Government policy, such as meeting climate targets, providing adequate housing etc., while population numbers, age profiles and birth rates are central to requirements for health and social care. Population growth is often regarded as an inevitable force which policies must accommodate, but it may be time for government to integrate population and demographics into all its policies. This would require a Committee on Population (analogous to the existing Committee on Climate Change) to provide advice to the government under the remit of a single cabinet minister and subject to the scrutiny of a parliamentary select committee.
Thursday 9th November
Many have welcomed the Government’s Clean Growth Strategy, which sets out a course for meeting the UK’s 4th and 5th carbon budgets, namely to limit the UK’s annual emissions to 57% below 1990 levels by 2032. While a £5.2 billion investment in low-carbon innovation, £1 billion in zero-emission vehicles and £3.6 billion in the energy performance of homes are welcome steps, both the Climate Change Committee and the Energy Institute have warned that the UK will miss its climate targets unless significant improvements are made to decarbonise problem areas such as heat generation and transport, especially air transport.
Friday 10th November
Domestic buildings account for 13% of UK emissions of greenhouse gases. The Clean Growth Strategy involves upgrading half a million homes through the Energy Company Obligation. However, a report from the Grantham Institute finds that uptake of energy-saving measures, such as UPVC windows, new boilers and cavity wall insulation is lower for houses in conservation areas and listed buildings. These comprise 10% of the UK housing stock, where the scope for energy-saving is much reduced. Possible solutions are to reverse some existing designations or to make a compromise between preservation and energy efficiency by allowing local authorities to permit the use of certain materials for energy-efficient windows.
Saturday 11th November
Oxford is set to become the world’s first Zero Emission Zone by 2035, when it will ban all fossil-fuelled vehicles across the city centre. In addition, £1.3 million has been provided for charging points for electric cars and taxis around the city. City Councillor John Tanner said: “All of us who drive or use petrol or diesel vehicles through Oxford are contributing to the city’s toxic air. Everyone needs to do their bit – from national Government and local authorities to businesses and residents – to end this public health emergency.”
Sunday 12th November
Father, we thank you for your great gifts of wisdom and ingenuity. Help us to place them wholly at your service in the quest for technologies to protect the world that you created, and all the creatures that live in it.
Monday 13th November
Government funding of £100 million for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) has been reinstated in its Clean Growth Strategy. This, if successful, could reduce the carbon intensity of heavy industry by stripping CO2 from factory flues and capturing it before piping it into permanent storage sites below the North Sea. However, on the same day that this was announced, the Norwegian government proposed cutting its own support for CCS by 90%, putting at risk current experiments at three sites near Oslo and undermining confidence that CCS technology will ever be economically viable.
Tuesday 14th November
Ozone pollution results from pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide from vehicles, organic compounds from solvent use and methane from agriculture. Once formed, ozone can stay in the atmosphere for a few weeks and travel long distances from its sources. A report published in Environmental Health Perspectives has linked 1 million premature deaths globally each year to ozone air pollution leading to respiratory diseases. In India, this amounts to 400,000 premature deaths, in China another 270,000. “To reduce ozone pollution, we need to control emissions from many different sources. These include emissions from road transport, household energy use and methane emissions from agriculture.”
Wednesday 15th November
Agriculture accounts for around 70% of freshwater use, yet only 40% reaches water treatment plants, while about 3.3 billion litres a day are lost in the UK due to leaky pipes. Mark Fletcher, a director of contractors Arup, believes that utilities should not just collect, purify and deliver water, but also extract and sell resources from wastewater. “It is my firm belief that our wasteful economy can be replaced by a circular, restorative approach where we no longer consider anything to be ‘waste’, and in which we value water and manage it in a much more sustainable way.”
Thursday 16th November
84% of takeaway hot drink consumers use disposable cups. YouGov research shows that 88% of the public would use a purpose-built bin to ensure their disposable cups are recycled. Veolia has partnered Costa Coffee in a scheme to collect paper, card, plastic and cans, which are then separated at Veolia’s Materials Recovery Facilities and sent for re-processing into a variety of materials. The fibres can be used to make egg boxes or cup holders, or else used in the manufacture of cellulose-based insulation for homes.
Friday 17th November
At a recent “Livestock and Extinction” conference in London organised by Compassion in World Farming and WWF, attendees were left in no doubt as to the role of intensive livestock farming in driving species to extinction. Some key evidence:
- Up to 40% of all crops grown globally are for animal feed (CIWF)
- The livestock industry contributes 14% of greenhouse gas emissions (FAO)
- Vulnerable natural habitats such as the Amazon Cerrado and Yangtze River are already being used to grow livestock feed. (WWF)
The need to move towards more plant-based diets was the message from many speakers. WWF recognised the importance of women’s education and empowerment as tools to prevent extinction through reducing population pressure.
Saturday 18th November
The Green Christian Annual Members Meeting takes place today from 10 am at Victoria Hall, Norfolk Street, Sheffield S1 2JB, followed by a ‘Joy in Enough’ meeting to explore the possibilities of an economy which is just, equal and environmentally sustainable. A suggested donation of £25 includes a sandwich lunch plus tea and coffee. Booking is via the website www.greenchristian.org.uk/bigworkshop or phone 0345 459 8460
Sunday 19th November
Help us, Father, so to deal with the things that we possess that they may never possess us. May we so order our lifestyle that we may tread lightly on your earth. May all the good things that you have entrusted to us be used in your service and for the glory of your Kingdom.
Monday 20th November
Pope Francis in his book “The Joy of the Gospel” has written: “The worship of the ancient golden calf (Exodus 32.1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose.”
“In this (economic)system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenceless before the interests of a deified market, which becomes the only rule.”
Tuesday 21st November
A team from Exeter University, on an expedition to sail deeper into the Arctic Ocean than has ever been done, has discovered blocks of polystyrene in waters hitherto covered by ice all the year. Tim Gordon, a marine biologist, said: “This may be a worrying sign that melting ice may allow high levels of pollution to drift into these seas. The Arctic Ocean used to be protected by a layer of sea ice all year round. Now that it is melting away, this environment will be exposed to commercial fishing, shipping and industry for the first time in history. We need to consider seriously how best to protect the Arctic’s animals from these new threats.”
Wednesday 22nd November
Under the EU Renewable Energy Directive, 7% of transport fuel must come from plant-based sources – a well-intentioned idea to replace fossil fuels and guarantee farmers’ incomes. However, according to research commissioned by the European Parliament in 2015, 99% of biofuels come directly from food and feed crops. Moreover, an area the size of Sweden would be needed to meet the EU’s biofuel demands. According to Molly Scott Cato MEP, this EU renewables policy has a massive global reach, driving deforestation, leaving people hungry and destroying our last chance of saving our climate.
Thursday 23rd November
A CIWEM report called “Addicted to Plastic” finds that over half the microplastics released into the environment remain on land, when wastewater sludge is applied to the soil and when particulates are washed from road surfaces. The biggest proportion arises from the washing of synthetic fibres and from the breakdown of plastic road markings and vehicle tyres. Microplastics can become trapped in sewage sludge, which is then spread on land to provide the nutrients necessary for agriculture. The report calls for government to implement better product design and substitution, extend producer responsibility and support deposit return schemes.
Friday 24th November
Recent data from the World Health Organisation shows that global air pollution has risen to the extent it describes as ‘a public health emergency’. According to research summarised by economist Sefi Roth of the London School of Economics, air pollution, even in relatively low doses, affects educational outcomes across several age groups and varying lengths of exposure. First, scholastic achievement may be affected directly by deterioration in oxygen quality induced by air pollution, as the brain consumes a large fraction of the oxygen needed by the body. Studies also suggest that air pollution affects brain development during childhood and fetal development. Also, air pollution may cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat as well has asthma attacks, headaches, dizziness and fatigue, which can all affect student achievement. Finally, pollution may increase school absences, either due to pollution-related illness or parental decisions to keep children at home to avoid pollution exposure.
Saturday 25th November
A recent Climate Engineering conference in Berlin drew attention to the huge risks associated with such techniques as stratospheric aerosol injection which, some experts say, could reduce the amount of rain from Asian and African monsoons, with a huge impact on food supplies of millions of people. It could also reduce the ozone layer and heighten the risk of exposure to ultra-violet radiation. But David Keith, a solar geoengineering expert at Harvard University said that, while there was a danger that his work could be exploited by those who oppose action on carbon emissions, nevertheless: “It will be very difficult to achieve the goals agreed at Paris without some form of climate engineering. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard to imagine we would make the major changes in our infrastructure and lifestyles in the time necessary.”
Sunday 26th November
“We must do what we conceive to be the right thing and not bother our heads or burden our souls with whether we’re going to be successful, because if we don’t do the right thing, we’ll be doing the wrong thing and we’ll just be part of the disease and not part of the cure.” (E.F. Schumacher)
Lord God, strengthen our weak wills and our feeble frames so that we may work tirelessly for the fulfilment of your promise for the redemption of all creation from the bondage of corruption. This we pray in the Name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Redeemer.
Monday 27th November
The Government’s EU Withdrawal Bill specifically rules out key principles in EU law, notably the precautionary principle and the principle that the polluter pays. Richard Benwell of WWT comments: “Take out principles like precaution and polluter pays and you rip the heart out of environmental law. For decades they have helped guide good decisions – and strike down bad ones – from planning to food safety to water quality and chemicals licensing. Crucially we must be able to challenge Government in court if environmental principles are ignored. At the moment that’s explicitly ruled out – a clear departure from the commitment to legal continuity on Brexit day.”
Tuesday 28th November
Under the 1998 Aarhus Treaty, the costs of challenging a government’s environmental decisions were capped, but last February the Government removed those caps. When, in June, Mrs Pallikaropoulos challenged the Environment Agency on its decision over an incineration plant where the health of her community was at stake, her legal costs amounted to £90,000. However, in September the High Court decided that the Government could not legally use the new rules to increase the legal bill for anyone bringing a case, once permission had been given for it to proceed. At the same time, the EU Economic Commission for Europe found that the UK was breaking international obligations for access to justice under the Aarhus Treaty.
Wednesday 29th November
The world’s first floating offshore wind farm has been opened off Peterhead, Scotland. The 30 MW Hywind project consists of 5 turbines each 253 metres tall with 78 m. submerged below the surface and anchored to the seabed with cables. The project, developed by Norway’s Statoil and Abu Dhabi’s Masdar, will generate enough electricity for 20,000 homes. There are plans for a 1 MW battery to be added to the site, allowing energy to be stored for use during peak demand. Opening the wind farm, Nicola Sturgeon said: “This project underlines the potential of Scotland’s huge offshore wind resource and positions Scotland at the forefront of the global race to develop the next generation of offshore wind technologies.”
Thursday 30th November
Atlantis Resources has generated 2.6 GWh of green electricity from its ground-breaking MayGen tidal array of 4 turbines in the Pentland firth. Its CEO said that the success of MayGen places the UK as a world leader in tidal power. “The industrial opportunities of tidal power for the UK are substantial, but without renewed government support, the UK is likely to lose jobs and investment overseas.”
Green Christian magazine
Population Matters magazine
The Environment (CIWEM)
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