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“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3.10)
I knelt to pray, but not for long. I had too much to do. Must hurry up and go to work, for bills will soon be due.
And so I said a hurried prayer, jumped up from off my knees, my Christian duty now was done, my soul could be at ease.
All through the day I had no time to speak a word of cheer, No time to speak to those in need; they’d laugh at me, I feared.
No time, no time – too much to do, that was my constant cry. No time to give to those in need. At last ’twas time to die.
And when before the Lord I came, I stood with downcast eyes. Within his hands he held a book. It was the book of life .
God looked into his book and said: “Your name I cannot find, I once was going to write it down, but never found the time.” (Anon.)
Thursday 24th August
Numbers of North Sea cod have recovered sufficiently to justify the Marine Stewardship Council’s decision to re-classify the fishery as ‘sustainable’. However, WWF comments: “The amount of cod at breeding age is well below late 1960s levels and recovery remains fragile. . . . Embracing new technology and installing cameras on the UK fleet would be a cost-effective and efficient way to manage and monitor cod catches, as well as a range of other fish also caught by these boats.”
Friday 25th August
From today until the 28th the Greenbelt Festival takes place at Broughton Park near Kettering. Green Christian will have an exhibition stand and volunteers are needed to represent GC at the event. There will be a great variety of talks and activities on Social, Justice, Eco and Religious themes, with often fruitful conversations with people who care about the planet and want to know how they may help. Anyone interested in being a volunteer can email Judith at email@example.com
Saturday 26th August
Environmental group ‘A Plastic Planet’ is calling for a plastic-free aisle in supermarkets to help shoppers make the case for a change in plastic wrappings. The group is asking the public to share pictures of products free from single-use packaging on social media alongside the hashtag #Plastic Free Heroes. The group will present the photos to the bosses of supermarket chains to show the sort of products that could fill a plastic-free shopping aisle.
Sunday 27th August
Father, we pray today for all who work closely with the natural world:
For farmers and gardeners who grow our food,
For scientists and technologists who probe the secrets of life,
For foresters who plant and harvest trees,
For photographers, artists and poets who capture beauty for others to see,
For conservationists and all who guard the precious heritage of the earth. Amen.
Monday 28th August
According to the International Energy Agency, increased urbanisation in Asia, Latin America and elsewhere will result in a 30% rise in energy demand by 2030. With the use of fossil fuels in gradual decline, solar energy has become the technology of choice. Last year half a million solar panels were installed every day around the world, amounting to 75 gigawatts – equivalent to the entire UK power network. The cost of thin-film silicon has plummeted from £366/kg in 2008 to £15/kg in 2015. But silicon costs are now as low as they can ever go, and the next technological advance will come from perovskites. These are mineral structures with superior photovoltaic qualities. They capture far more light from the electromagnetic spectrum than does silicon. The small extra cost is offset by an increase in efficiency of at least 20%. According to Tom Green of Oxford Photovoltaics Ltd., “Perovskites offer a fantastic opportunity to take solar to the next level, making it a viable, sustainable and adaptable technology to deliver the needs of society as we seek to develop energy systems that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve air quality and energy security.”
Tuesday 29th August
A study by the Grantham Research Institute of the LSE finds that more than half of corporate bond purchases by the Bank of England back carbon-intensive sectors, in direct contradiction to the signals coming from financial regulators about the risks of high-carbon investments. Renewable energy companies are not represented at all in Bank of England purchases. 49.2% of its bond purchases have been in the manufacturing and utilities sectors which make up just 11.8% of the economy, but produce 52% of UK greenhouse gas emissions. The study calls on central banks to work with policy makers and financial regulators to harmonise their policies aimed at achieving a rapid and smooth transition to a low-carbon economy.
Wednesday 30th August
CIWEM draws attention to the need for a new farming subsidy system post-Brexit that provides for sustainable food production alongside wider public benefits to strengthen the nation’s resilience to climate change. “Brexit is obviously by far the greatest challenge any government will have to manage in modern history. But there are also pressing domestic environmental issues that need urgent action. Government must ensure that it has the capacity to tackle these too. . . Climate change won’t wait for Brexit to fully play out before potentially biting us harder than ever.”
Friday 1st September
Today, as proclaimed by Pope Francis, is World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. It marks the beginning of Creation Time, which runs until October 4th, the feast of St. Francis. This year’s theme is “Journeying with God” when we explore God’s invitation to join in the journey of faith leading us to care for all creation. Worship resources can be found on the CTBI website with links to the Eco-Congregation Scotland website.
Saturday 2nd September
According to Dr Huq, director of the International Centre for Climate Change & Development, more than 30 million Bangladeshis living in coastal areas will not longer be able to live there if, as predicted, sea levels rise by 1 metre. This enforced migration from rural to urban communities will have enduring social and political consequences. Dhaka is already the world’s fastest-growing mega city, with its current population 15 million predicted to absorb another 10 million by 2040. The government’s policy is, by educating the youth in rural areas, to create new job opportunities in provincial towns. Plans for facilitated or assisted migration’ will address both the projected loss of agricultural communities and the overpopulation of the capital. This analysis, however, fails to answer the question: How will the people be fed?
Sunday 3rd September
Lord, no one can tell what will happen at the next rise of the crest of the waves.
We wonder why there is turbulence here and there.
We look up at the sky and see thin clouds break and fly past, responding to an uprising storm in the far horizons.
No one knows why and how they all happen and what they mean.
In trepidation and terror we watch our shores,
Lest the high waters drown our beaches. (A prayer from Tonga)
Monday 4th September
Vietnam’s Mekong Delta provides 50% of the country’s food supply – mainly rice, fruits, fish and shrimps. This area, extending to 2.6 million hectares and known as the rice bowl of Vietnam, provides 57% of its rice production and 90% of its rice exports.. Rice needs water at specific stages of its growth. Swathes of it can be wiped out by droughts and flooding. But floods are becoming increasingly irregular and in 2016 the rice-growing province of Tra Vinh lost around 50% of rice production from drought. Andrew Wyatt of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature says that implementing solutions like controlled flooding and reducing underground water pumping for shrimp farms could reduce the impacts of climate change. “We have to act now, before it’s too late”.
Tuesday 5th September
The Ecological Citizen is a new peer-reviewed journal dedicated to transforming the current anthropocentric view of the world into an ecocentric outlook, which it believes is ultimately needed for the survival of humanity.. “The anthropocentric view rests on three assumptions:
- That the Earth belongs to humanity
- That the Earth consists of resources for the betterment of people
- That humans are obviously superior to all other species.
These views derive from the idea of the Great Chain of Being, with man at the top, minerals at the bottom and all the rest somewhere between.. This idea has imposed a moral order sanctioning man’s unrestrained use of everything supposedly beneath him.” (Eileen Crist in Ecological Citizen)
Wednesday 6th September
“Today the absence of limitations, of restraint, is a rampant malady all around us. It is a kind of madness. We see the madness in the normalised violence of factory farms, in the trashing and biodepletion of the seas, in the the drive to dam the world’s rivers, in the rendering of whole landscapes in pursuit of fossil fuels, and in the insane trading of rainforests for crop plantations and cattle ranches. We see the absurdity of human supremacy. Moreover we have blindsided ourselves to the loss of so much of the natural world. Mass extinction remains publicly largely unknown, little understood and rarely talked about.” (Eileen Crist)
Thursday 7th September
In the light of a dawning recognition of the dangerous side-effects of expanding civilisation and a sense of big trouble coming our way, what is the prevailing response?. So far, no mainstream politician, media or NGO has come out against the anthropocentric worldview. Instead, we are the resourceful race, the technological magicians, the God species. So, for example:
- Shortages of freshwater are tackled by desalinisation or by redirecting entire rivers
- Diminishing fossil fuels are countered with extreme technologies that extract them from deep sediments, mountaintops and deforested landscapes
- Algae, switchgrass or some other biomass will be repurposed for fuel
- If climate disruption gets out of hand, geo-engineering will save the day
- Industry and the consumer society will be sustained and globalised via nuclear fission or fusion
- Adequate food? That will be secured by engineering crops and animals
- As wild fish become depleted, we can just escalate fish factory farms.
Friday 8th September
Eileen Crist asks what will emerge when we finally refuse the dogma of human supremacy. “Another way of life will emerge when we embrace another world view – namely, that Earth is a community of unique and exquisite beings, places and cultures; that this planet, inhabited with restraint and respect, is abundant for material sustenance and ravishing for our spirit; and that the more-than-human world, from singing whales to networking fungi, abounds in diverse forms of intelligence, awareness and mind.”
Saturday 9th September
The 2000 draft UN Earth Charter urged at the outset:
“That we recognise that all beings are interdependent and every form of life has value regardless of its worth to human beings “
But this draft was not endorsed in the 2002 Johannesburg Declaration. In 2008 Ecuador enshrined rights of nature in its new constitution, and in 2010 Bolivia passed a Law of Mother Earth as “a collective subject of public interest.” However, the 2015 UN Sustainable Development Goals made no mention of the intrinsic value of nature, nor acknowledged its rights.
Sunday 10th September
Father, forgive us for our short-sightedness, our greed and for the part we have played, however unwittingly, in the destruction of your world. Forgive us that we have exploited the world’s resources while so many lack the basic necessities. Create in us a new heart and a new determination, that we may adopt a lifestyle that is gentle to the earth and just to the poor.
Monday 11th September
Professor John Underhill, chief scientist at Heriot-Watt University, reports that we are 55 million years too late for hydraulic fracking for oil and gas to succeed in the UK. He finds that, unlike major shale areas in the US, Britain experienced a buckling of sedimentary basins over 55 million years ago. “Areas that were once buried sufficiently deeply with temperatures at which oil and gas maturation occurs lifted to levels where they are no longer actively generating oil. They have also been highly deformed by folds and faults that cause the shale to be offset and broken up into compartments, so creating pathways for oil and gas to escape.” He concluded: “It would be extremely unwise to rely on shale gas to ride to the rescue of the UK’s gas needs, only to discover that we are 55 million years too late.”
Tuesday 12th September
Cuadrilla has already begun to drill for shale gas in the Bowland area of Lancashire. WWF comments: “The start of drilling takes us closer to fracking becoming a reality. The Government was keen to give local people the final say on wind projects, but is far less keen when it comes to fracking. Clean technology like wind and solar is already transforming our energy system. We need it to continue to grow, rather than turning to unpopular, unproductive and risky methods of extracting fossil fuels. The Government needs to focus support and investment on innovative, low carbon technologies, We badly need a ‘Clean Growth Plan” to set out how we will cut our greenhouse gas emissions.”
Wednesday 13th September
The Government’s Air Quality Plan relies largely on the banning of the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans by 2040. But is this enough when vehicle emissions are causing 40,000 premature deaths each year? WWF proposes these additional measures:
- A scrappage scheme which supports the uptake of electric vehicles, public transport, e-bikes and car clubs
- Reforms to vehicle tax which promote electric cars rather than petrol or diesel
- Clean air zones which charge polluting vehicles and support for local authorities to implement them.
Thursday 14th September
2,500 new electric postal delivery vans, known as ‘Street Scooters’ will be delivered to Deutsche Post DHL Group for delivery of parcels in urban areas of Germany. Each has a range of 80-200 kilometres and can save 5 tonnes of CO2 and 1,900 litres of fuel each year compared to their diesel equivalents. Siemens is also trialling a system of overhead cables over German autobahns to provide electric power to hybrid electric trucks.
Friday 15th September
Mercedes, BMW, VW and Ford are all offering diesel scrappage schemes in order to protect their profits in the light of falls in car sales and the signalling of an end to sales of fossil-fuel driven vehicles. However, the models offered in return are all on the expensive side. Ford only offers diesel or petrol cars. For existing diesel car owners, the scheme could make new electric cars more affordable. But for those who cannot afford a new car, these scrappage schemes do not help since second-hand cars are not on offer.
Saturday 16th September
Analysis by Cambridge Econometrics finds that a wholesale move to electric vehicles would add 10% to UK electricity demand. Peak electricity demand is now about 60 gigawatts and a study by National Grid finds that this could increase by 6-18 GW. by 2050. The key to managing this is the use of smart meters and time-of-day tariffs to ensure that charging of most electric cars takes place at night, when electricity demand is low. However, we still need to generate more electricity, preferably from renewables.
Sunday 17th September
Give us, dear Father, a deeper understanding of your purposes, that we may be steadfast amid the turmoil of our times. May our faith never fail, nor our love grow cold, nor our hope become faint. So may we look up and lift our heads as we look for the coming of your Kingdom. This we ask in the name of your Son and our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
Monday 18th September
There are already 4,500 locations with battery charging points across the UK (www.zap-map.com ) and Nissan predicts that charging points will outnumber traditional petrol stations by 2020. Kensington has a project for converting street lights into charging points. For those with off-street parking, many electric cars can be charged at home overnight. Their range has increased to the point where Tesla’s mass market Model 3 can travel 300 miles without a re-charge.
Tuesday 19th September
Electric vehicles produce no harmful nitrogen dioxide, although tiny particles from tyre and brake wear msy cause respiratory problems. However, the environmental impact of building 30 million new cars to replace our current stock is considerable. Lithium mining on a vast scale to produce car batteries would itself generate severe environmental impacts. Yet electric vehicles will soon be affordable, easy to charge and capable of driving long distances non-stop. Most importantly, they are key to reducing air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels.
Wednesday 20th September
The Chartered Institute of Water & Environmental Management (CIWEM) welcomes the Government’s provision of £255 million to help local councils tackle emissions from diesel vehicles, but this money is simply not enough for the 27-plus new clean air zones now urgently needed. It calls for:
- A network of clean air zones across the UK to keep the dirtiest vehicles out of the most polluted parts of towns and cities
- Measures to help people switch from the dirtiest vehicles to cleaner forms of transport, including tackling the fiscal incentives for buying diesel cars
- A new Clean Air Act to ensure and preserve the right in law to breathe clean air.
Thursday 21st September
CIWEM has highlighted the lack of any Government policy for tackling flooding in urban areas:
“Ten years on from the devastating summer floods in 2007, progress still hasn’t been made to address the risks of surface water flooding in our towns and cities. Development and surface water flood risk is the top adaptation priority of the Government’s Committee on Climate Change, yet green infrastructure is not being built or maintained to anything like the extent that is needed.”
Friday 22nd September
Lack of water has been a key factor in conflicts throughout history. The Pacific Trust’s ‘Water Conflict Chronology’ cites 400 such conflict situations. Today there are dozens of such flashpoints. 14 of the 33 likely most water-stressed countries in 2040 will be in the Middle East. Population growth, climate change and poor water management are the key factors driving water stress. Poor management has caused a rapid depletion of groundwater. In the 7 years since 2003, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran have lost a volume of freshwater equivalent to the amount of water in the Dead Sea, and 60% of this was a reduction in groundwater reserves. CIWEM believes the priorities are:
- Eliminating water waste and using waste water as a resource
- Strengthening local drought resilience
- Improving the efficiency of our use of water for agricultural purposes.
Saturday 23rd September
The annual Zayed Future Energy Prize has been awarded to Practical Action for its work in deploying small-scale solar, hydro and wind solutions to off-grid communities in Peru, Bolivia, Kenya, Rwanda, Zimbabwe and elsewhere. Since the prize was established by the UAE government in 2008, 57 pioneers have been recognised for meeting the challenges of climate change, energy security and the environment. More than 289 million people have experienced the benefits offered by the prizewinners, and the number continues to grow.
Sunday 24th September
Father, we thank you for the fruits of science and technology. We pray that human technology will never crush the human spirit. We praise you for your great gifts of freedom and inventiveness, and we pray for wisdom to use them aright in your service and for the benefit of all humankind.
Monday 25th September
Up to 12 million tonnes of plastic enter our oceans every year. That is one full rubbish truck every minute. Single-use plastic packaging for food and drink is a particularly common form of waste. About 20% of marine litter is made up of fishing gear and items lost at sea by accident or illegal dumping. The other 80% comes from the land. It is our rubbish.
New research shows that the plastic produced since the 1950s is equivalent in weight to 1 billion elephants. Just 9% of this has been recycled. Most of the rest has been sent to landfill, burnt or simply discarded. These items are carried by wind and rain into drainage systems and rivers, eventually reaching the sea. Microbeads in cosmetics will be banned from 2018, but plastic in cotton buds, facewipes and sanitary products and even plastic fibres in clothing all pass through our drainage systems to the oceans, where they flow in ocean currents all round the world. Even uninhabited islands in the Pacific and Arctic have become dumping grounds for plastic.
Tuesday 26th September
In April Leah Bromley noticed in her local Boots a range of PVC cosmetic and toilet bags marked ‘Plastic is Fantastic’. It was only after Sky News ran the story in July that Boots undertook to remove the slogan from items in its stores ‘from 2018’. Leah comments: “The use of plastic is so ingrained in modern life, it is difficult to imagine an alternative. Despite this, it is so important to make changes in our lifestyles that reduce its use. Simple changes such reusable water bottles or consuming products only made from recycled plastic can reduce its usage. We must also be aware of local authority regulations on plastic recycling to ensure as much plastic can be recycled as possible.”
Wednesday 27th September
Greenpeace’s top tips for reducing the use of plastic are:
- Carry only reusable drinks bottles
- Say no to plastic straws
- Carry your own reusable coffee cup
- Choose loose fruit and veg rather than plastic-wrapped
- Use the increasing number of reusable plastic containers https://zerowastehome.com/app/
- Say no to disposable cutlery
- Get your milk delivered in glass bottles http://www.findmeamilkman.net/
- Avoid microbeads
- Carry your own reusable shopping bag.
Thursday 28th September
Figures from the Environment Agency show that severe pollution incidents on English farms are a weekly occurrence, leading to damage to wildlife, fish, farm livestock and causing air and water pollution. 536 out of 5,300 cases recorded between 2010 and 2016 were classified as ‘most severe’. The investigations found:
- Pollution of waterways and and by slurry, inappropriate burial of carcasses and emission of noxious fumes
- Most cases involve dairy farms, chiefly for leaks and spills of slurry that can be lethal to fish and pollute the land
- The biggest number of serious incidents were recorded in the south-west
- 128 prosecutions resulted in 119 fines, but only 23 of the fines were of £10,000 or more
- Over 1,000 incidents a year were linked to large intensive farms
- Farm businesses found responsible for pollution continued to receive taxpayer subsidies and supply their products to large supermarkets.
Friday 29th September
An average of 35 African elephants are killed each day by poachers for their ivory tusks, many of which go to China and Japan. More elephants are being killed for their tusks than are being born. WWF is calling for a ban on the UK domestic ivory trade. A survey has found that 75% of the British public would support a ban. China has closed the legal trade in ivory, though illegal imports continue. “The UK Government must follow suit by fulfilling the promise it made last September to hold a public consultation on the UK ivory trade. It is essential, ahead of the 2018 London Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, that the UK positions itself as a world leader on this issue.”
Saturday 30th September
Beach litter has steadily increased over two decades. Now the Marine Conservation Society has joined with Waitrose to organise around 1,000 beach and river cleanups in 2017/18. Plastic bottles, carrier bags, nappies, balloons and tiny plastic pieces can be found on almost every beach in the UK, either washed up, blown there or dropped. The first event took place from September 15 to 18. Further details can be found at: http://www.mcsuk.org/what_we_do/Clean+seas+and+beaches/Clean+seas+and+beaches/Waitrose+beach+and+river+cleans
The Ecological Citizen
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