Scroll down for September’s prayers.
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“Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3.20)
“To pray is nothing more than to open the door, giving Jesus access to our needs and permitting him to exercise his power in dealing with them. It requires no strength. It is only a question of our wills. Will we give Jesus access to our needs?” (O. Hallesby)
“Robert Browning wrote: ‘He who keeps one end in view makes all things serve.’ When that one end is confidence in God’s plan for our life, and his power to make it happen, then indeed all things serve.” (Selwyn Hughes)
Tuesday 28th August
There are ways in which we can ease the pressure on our world. Those who have far more than others must demand less. We can all buy less, re-use and recycle more, move towards a plant-based diet and live as sustainably as possible. But as long as our numbers grow, the value of what we do risks being cancelled out by the demands and needs of additional people. We need
- To empower women to choose their family size, by education and social change
- To give people the help they need to lift themselves out of poverty
- To ensure that everyone has access to modern family planning
- To challenge beliefs and social norms that encourage large families and oppose contraception
- To encourage people to have smaller families wherever they have the choice.
Wednesday 29th August
The Government has promised a new Environmental Principles and Governance Bill to cover air pollution, waste, water and chemicals post-Brexit. The Environmental Audit Committee is calling on the Government to go much further and to enshrine biodiversity targets, soil quality targets and access to justice into UK law, so as to ensure that the enforcement, oversight and policy functions now carried out by the European commission and the European Court of Justice are not lost when we leave the EU. A new Environmental Enforcement and Audit Office (EEAO) should:
- Oversee all public authorities including local councils;
- Have power to take the Government and all public bodies to court where standards are breached;
- Have power to initiate its own investigations, including complaints brought by the public which the courts can then adjudicate;
- Provide scrutiny of the Government’s 25-year Plan with legally-binding targets for every 5 years;
- Provide targets and propose policies for the restoration and recovery of nature.
- The EEAO must be accountable to and overseen by Parliament to guarantee its independence from Government and to prevent its budget being cut.
- The Government needs to set out detailed delivery and funding proposals for the Plan, and all departments across Whitehall need to commit to its ambitions rather than trying to water them down behind the scenes.
Thursday 30th August
Under EU law, citizens can complain about public authorities which breach environmental laws. Under the Government’s 25-year Plan there is no such right. There should be a complaints mechanism so that every one of us is able to report breaches of environmental standards. Also, the new environmental watchdog must be properly funded, with access to the experts it needs. The new Bill is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to enshrine environmental principles and targets in law to cover crucial issues like water quality, wildlife and biodiversity, ocean-polluting plastic waste and ensuring that we breathe as clean air as possible.
Friday 31st August
Tomorrow marks the Pope’s World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation when the Catholic community around the world is encouraged to pray for our common home. Resources can be found at https://cafod.org.uk/News/Campaigning-news/World-Day-of-Prayer
Many churches celebrate the period from September 1st to October 4th as Creation Time. EcoCongegation Scotland has produced material for every week on the theme “Passing our Planet on: God’s gift to us”. A film called “Global Healing” has been produced at the Eden Project, Hilfield Friary and a wind farm in Cambridge. A trailer of it can be seen at: https://vimeo.com/271687885/760c8cd084
Saturday 1st September
Creation Time this year runs from today until October 4th, the feast of St Francis. Eco-Congregation Scotland has assembled material for each week from the Church of Scotland, the Roman Catholic Church, the Salvation Army, the Scottish Episcopal Church and the United Reformed Church on the theme ‘Passing our Planet on: God’s Gift to us’. Resources for 2018 can be found at:
Sunday 2nd September
Father, we thank you at this harvest time for creating this wonderful world and for giving us the task of caring for it. Have mercy on us and our planet. Fill us daily with your grace, that we may always remember that we are here as your stewards, who will one day be asked for our account.
Monday 3rd September
A priority for land management has traditionally been the production of food. Today, an equally urgent priority is the storage of atmospheric carbon. One country, Bhutan, is the only country in the world where its forests store more CO2 than the country emits. Sustainability is built into the country’s constitution. Its laws require that at least 60% of the country must be forested. In 2015 a team of 100 Bhutanese set a world record by planting 49,672 trees in just one hour.
Tuesday 4th September
Indigenous communities have long been at the front line of resistance to deforestation from mining, oil and gas extraction and the expansion of monocrop plantations. Studies have shown that insecure land rights play a major role in deforestation and the degradation of forests. A review of 118 cases found that tenure-secure community forests produce healthier ecosystem outcomes that forests without security of tenure. Government action is needed not only to secure legal recognition of forest rights but to provide technical assistance, engagement with local people, expulsion of illegal settlers and promotion of community forest management.
Wednesday 5th September
Coastal mangroves and salt marshes provide nurseries for fish and migratory birds, a first-line defence against storm surges and a natural filtration system that boosts water quality. According to an article in Nature, mangrove forests alone may hold 22 million tons of carbon, much of which escapes when these ecosystems are lost to shrimp farms, palm plantations and golf courses.
Thursday 6th September
A report from the Sustainable Food Trust finds that for every £1 we spend on food as consumers we spend another £1 on additional costs incurred by the production and consumption of that food. In cash terms we spent, in 2015, £43 billion dealing with the environmental impacts of food production and £61 billion on food-related health costs, treating conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and the effects of obesity. This is not just because consumers are making poor choices. Changes in the nutritional quality of food are a critical influence. There is little profit in simple, good-quality, unprocessed food. Therefore supermarkets go for increasingly elaborate products, disguising cheap ingredients of poor nutritional value with sugar, salt and flavourings to provide the taste promised. As one activist put it, ‘we are being poisoned for profit’.
Friday 7th September
This weekend CRES holds a residential course at Ripon Hall, Cuddesdon. Day visitors are invited to visit the Earth Trust at Little Wittenham, Oxford to see how they manage their 1200 acres of farmland, woodland and wetland in an environmentally-sensitive way. The aim is to ‘inspire people to become the environmental advocates of the future, giving them the access, skills and confidence to connect with their local environment and ultimately to care and act on the global issues of sustainability.
Saturday 8th September
Up and down the country there are grassroots movements meeting together to make their local environment greener and more sustainable. Today, at Alston Town Hall, Cumbria CA9 3RF, Greenprint Convergence is organising a meeting from 4 to 7 pm. The main speaker is Paul Allen, co-author of the ground-breaking report ‘ Zero Carbon Britain, bringing us his vision of Britain in 2045, followed by updates from various sustainability groups in the area. To register, go to: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/greenprint-convergence-registration-45939086043?aff=eac2
Sunday 9th September
Dear Father, you have given us matchless gifts in the realm of science and technology. Help us to understand that you alone are the source of all truth and understanding. Let us never be blinded by the lure of the market-place or tempted to put at risk the lives and health of our fellow-humans. Watch over our motives, loving Father, that we may always give prime place to the furtherance of your Kingdom. This we ask in the name of your Son, who died that we might live.
Monday 10th September
Changes in food and farming practices have led to environmental damage including pollution of watercourses, loss of biodiversity, such as the decline of essential pollinators, pesticide and herbicide resistance, degraded soils and greenhouse gas emissions. Brexit provides a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make our voices heard about our concerns relating to food and farming. Let us hope and pray that politicians are listening.
Tuesday 11th September
A draft report from the International Panel on Climate Change says that global warming may increase by 1.5 °C. as early as 2040, threatening communities, ecosystems and economic growth. Staying within the 1.5°C limit would require a 60% increase in renewable energy from 2020 to 2050 to supply 45-60% of world energy, while coal-fired energy would need to drop by 2/3rds. The report projects that, at the present rate of increase, temperatures will rise by 0.2°C every decade, so increasing the risk of storms, heatwaves and floods. A rise of 0.5°C over the 1.5°C forecast would lead to a sea level rise of 10 cm which would expose 10 million more people to floods, storm surges and damage to crops from salt spray. The report says that pledges to limit emissions under the Paris Agreement are too weak to avoid a 1.5°C increase in temperatures.
Wednesday 12th September
Erik Solheim, director of UN Environment, finds a correlation between areas of drought and incidences of low-intensity conflict. “The environmental consequences of military conflicts are huge. Damage to chemical, oil refining and metallurgical enterprises in a conflict zone can cause region-wide ecological catastrophe. The risks are higher still for nuclear power plants and infrastructure.”
“Most countries’ military budgets are significantly higher than the costs of stabilising the environmental situation…We need scientists, policy-makers and civil society to work together to turn understanding of the role of the environment in modern society into political action. After all, we can have no peace without a healthy planet.”
Thursday 13th September
Environmental changes can exacerbate existing poverty, overpopulation, demographic inequality, unmanaged migration, ethnic divisions, poor governance and historical conflicts. In Darfur, for example, drought, demographic pressure and political marginalisation helped to push the region into lawlessness and violence. Since 2003, 300,000 people have died there and more than 2 million have been displaced. A 2009 UN Environment report named climate variability, water scarcity and the steady loss of fertile land as important underlying factors.
Friday 14th September
According to CIWEM, water supply has become central to international security in many parts of the world. Just 9 countries share 60% of world water resources, 28 face regular shortages and 80 face occasional shortages. Water scarcity, accelerated by climate change, increases the risk of competition. Although cross-country water agreements boost peace and stability, there are too few such agreements. Of 263 shared river basins, only 84 have joint management bodies. The UN has negotiated international watercourse treaties despite periods of conflict. Scarcity of water may actually encourage parties to co-operate despite existing tensions over supplies.
Saturday 15th September
Today from 11 to 4.30 Green Christian hosts an event called ‘On the Road Together’ at Friends Meeting House, 56 St Helen’s Street, Derby DE1 3HY. The day is open to all interested in finding out more about Green Christian, its wide range of resources and its many activities and events. There are sessions on the Green Christian Way of Life and on ‘Joy in Enough’, a campaign dedicated to human flourishing and the common good rather than the constant pursuit of more. For details and booking go to: www.greenchristian.org.uk/green-christian-on-the-road-together/
Sunday 16th September
Creator God, we commend to your care all the scientists and others who are engaged in finding new sources of energy, all who are seeking solutions to environmental problems and ways to provide enough food and water for our growing populations. Please be with them as they search for solutions to the many environmental problems that the world faces.
Monday 17th September
Nineteen of the world’s biggest cities where 130 million people live have signed a pledge to make all new buildings ‘Net Carbon Zero’ by 2030 and to upgrade all existing buildings to net carbon standards by 2050. Thirteen of them also pledged to owning, occupying or developing only assets that are net zero carbon by 2030. The CEO of the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC) commented: “This commitment from a powerful group of cities across the globe is arguably the strongest indicator that, in the absence of policy leadership from national governments, it is city regions that are showing leadership by taking action on climate change. At UKGBC we’re working with a number of UK cities to help them bring forward strong environmental policies. But a long-term commitment to net zero carbon buildings at national level is crucial if we are to stand a chance of delivering on our emission reduction targets under the Climate Change Act 2008.”
Tuesday 18th September
Supermarket chain Lidl is to install electric vehicle (EV) charge points at 20 of its stores across Ireland. The charge points will be free to customers and will provide an average 100 km. of driving per charge. The Irish Government, finding that transport accounts for a third of the nation’s CO2 emissions, has published a target of increasing the number of EVs to 500,000 by 2030. The CEO of the Sustainable Energy Authority said: “While recognising that most of the charging may take place at home, initiatives such as this will provide confidence in the charging network and ensure that there are sufficient charging locations available for the growing number of EV users.”
Wednesday 19th September
A floating tidal turbine off Orkney has, since last summer, generated more than 3 gigawatt hours of renewable energy – enough to meet the energy demand of 830 homes. However, tidal energy has to compete with cheaper renewable technologies such as biomass and offshore wind to secure government support. Andrew Scott of ScotRenewables, the developers said: “We argue that tidal energy should be given specialist subsidy assistance while the technology develops, to give it a chance to reduce costs to commercial levels. We are dismayed that there is a total lack of support in the UK for our technology and we have no option but to focus our business on overseas opportunities.”
Thursday 20th September
Drax, owners of Britain’s biggest power station, has converted four of its six units to biomass generation of electricity, and work is underway to convert the remaining units to gas generation. Drax maintains that its supplies of biomass are sustainably managed, allowing it to deliver reliable, low-carbon, baseload power that supports the UK’s decarbonisation efforts, although some green groups claim that, without tight safeguards, the biomass industry risks driving up deforestation rates. Drax is also planning to pilot Europe’s first biomass carbon capture and storage project.
Friday 21st September
Greenpeace has awarded its annual Toxic Air Award to carmaker Volkswagen for these reasons:
- Nitrogen oxide emissions from diesel cars cause respiratory problems and VW produces more diesel cars than any other company.
- An MIT study shows that VW’s excess emissions from the Dieselgate scandal (where VW cheated on its emissions data) will lead to 1,200 premature deaths across Europe.
- Doctors say that emissions from diesel vehicles cause asthma in otherwise healthy children, stunt children’s lung growth permanently and cause strokes, heart disease and diabetes in older people. But still VW’s CEO says that diesel has ‘a great future’,
Greenpeace has organised a petition at: https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/volkswagen-director-meet-greenpeace which calls on the director of VW UK to meet Greenpeace and set a diesel phase-out date.
Saturday 22nd September
In July the then Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson gave public support to the campaign to set up an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary, which would cover an area five times the size of Germany and create a safe haven for penguins, whales and seals. It would place the area off-limits to industrial exploitation and help to avoid the worst effects of climate change. In October the international community will decide whether to create this Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary. In the UK, over 288,000 people have signed a petition to the Government asking them to do everything they can to protect the Antarctic. Https://secure.greenpeace.org.uk/page/s/antarctic
Sunday 23rd September
Lord God, we pray that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so move the hearts of the men and women who govern the nations that the barriers of fear, suspicion and hatred which separate us may crumble, and the body of humankind may be healed of its divisions and be united in addressing the serious problems of resource depletion, overpopulation and climate change. This we ask in the name of your dear Son, Jesus Christ.
Monday 24th September
A report from the CPRE reveals that under current council policies 460,000 new homes could be built on the green belt. Of the 24,000 new homes approved on greenfield sites since 2009 only 27% fell within the Government’s definition of ‘affordable housing’. With the UK population now over 66 million and with no end in sight, pressure for housing can only increase, with dire consequences for human quality of life and the environment. A YouGov poll has revealed that 74% of adults favour a national strategy for addressing population growth while 64% think the projected growth rate is too high. Population Matters is calling on the Government to develop a Sustainable Population Policy underpinned by scientific evidence and recognising wider planetary responsibilities and human rights.
Tuesday 25th September
HM Treasury has received 162,000 responses to its public consultation on taxing plastic waste. Measures receiving particular support include:
- Changes to boost the use of recyclable plastics in manufacturing
- Reduce the use of tough-to-recycle plastics
- Discourage single-use plastics like coffee cups and takeaway boxes.
Sian Sutherland of campaign group ‘A Plastic Planet’ said: “Those who continue to use plastic must be taxed heavily and that revenue ring-fenced to build a waste management infrastructure that is relevant for today. Recycling – or more accurately downcycling – is not the answer.”
Wednesday 26th September
Re-use of waste water has been severely curtailed by the EU banning the use of sewage as a fertiliser owing to the risk of it being contaminated by heavy metals, chemicals and medicines. However, if domestic waste water is collected and treated separately from industrial waste, the problem does not arise. In South Australia, viticulture, market gardens and agroforestry use both recycled sewage and green waste compost and the state is heading for 100% re-use of waste water in urban fringe farming. Post-Brexit Britain could adopt its own waste water standards. Regenerating the vitality of soils and ecosystems is crucial in an urbanising, climate-challenged world facing ever-greater food challenges.
Thursday 27th September
The World Bank estimates that 8.6 trillion gallons of water are lost each year through leakage, divided equally between high- and low-income countries. Pumping wasted water uses billions of kilowatt hours of electricity – all wasted energy. Too much pressure at the outlet means that water is looking for ways to escape: too little pressure can suck in liquids and contaminants. It is a balancing act. The Philippine capital Manila, by cutting its water losses in half, was able to supply an extra 1.3 million people. The utilities need incentives to invest in modern technology, such as sensors to detect leaks and adjust water pressure.
Friday 28th September
Last month, in a landmark ruling, a San Francisco jury found Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) liable for $290 million in damages for an individual’s glyphosate-induced cancer. He had been spraying glyphosate 20-30 times a year on public school grounds and had twice been ‘dowsed’ with glyphosate due to malfunctioning equipment. It was shown that Monsanto had known for decades that glyphosate could cause cancer, yet claimed that it was ‘safer than salt’, The jury found that Monsanto acted with malice and oppression because they knew that what they were doing was wrong, but did it with reckless disregard for human life.
Saturday 29th September
Helen Browning, CEO of the Soil Association, made these points about other chemicals in widespread use:
- The water companies spend a fortune trying to strip the slug killer metaldehyde out of our drinking water.
- New technologies such as GM are sold on the claim that they will allow us to reduce herbicide use, but farmers in countries where GM is allowed have found that short-term gain soon reverses into resistant ”superweeds’ and the need for ever more powerful herbicides.
Sunday 30th September
Father, we pray, for each one of us, for an honest appraisal of our own lifestyle, that we may admit, to ourselves and to you, all that we are contributing, directly and indirectly, to the pollution of your world. Help us to bear witness, by our example, to our resolve to amend our lives, so that others may take heart and act accordingly.
- ‘Drawdown’ ed. Paul Hawken
- Environment (CIWEM)
- The Ecologist
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