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April 2017       Small Doc      Small Pdf      Large Doc      Large Pdf      A4 Doc


Apple Blossom

“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Revelation 3.20)
“To pray is nothing more than to let Jesus into our needs. To pray is to open the door to Jesus. And that requires no strength. It is only a question of our wills. Will we give Jesus access to our needs? That is the one great and fundamental question in prayer.” (O. Hallesby)
“Prayer is for the helpless. For it is only when we are helpless that we open our hearts to Jesus and let him help us in our distress, according to his grace and mercy.” (O. Hallesby)
“Without me you can do nothing.” (John 15.5)


Friday 24th March

Around 2/3rds of India’s electricity is generated from coal, with more new plants in the pipeline despite current over-capacity. It is suggested in a new report from Delhi’s Energy & Resources Institute that the cost of renewables and storage batteries could fall by half by 2025. This would undercut the price of coal and lead to a halt in the construction of new coal plants. If, too, the government instigates reforms to the electricity system to make it more flexible and responsive to renewable and battery storage, India will move towards a reliable system of renewables, with existing coal plants being retired and not replaced at the end of their life.

 

Saturday 25th March

According to Greenpeace, the US, the UK, France and Russia now have nearly 300 nuclear-powered vessels, with 450 reactors among them.. Collisions and dumping have already sent 26 reactors and 50 nuclear weapons to the ocean floor. These will degrade and release radioactivity into the marine environment. In addition, hundreds of nuclear-driven vessels will be decommissioned in future, creating a radioactive scrapheap that will remain hazardous for centuries.

 

Sunday 26th March

Father, we pray for all those working in nuclear industries around the world. Be with them when they face conflicts between their beliefs and their apparent interests. Support them in every crisis and make your presence known to them, especially when they face pressure to conform.

 

Monday 27th March

Air pollution has been blamed for over 9,000 premature deaths in London alone. Now an independent assessment commissioned by the Department of Transport has warned that building a third runway at Heathrow could delay compliance with our air quality laws for years. After 2030, the report claims, compliance with the law won’t be a problem, but this prediction is based on the assumption that car emissions will be improved significantly over the next few years. However, according to Greenpeace, “People’s health cannot be made dependent on rose-tinted assumptions and a notoriously unreliable car industry.”

 

Tuesday 28th March

Construction of wind farms in the UK was responsible for £11 billion of investment last year – nearly half the amount invested in the whole of the EU. The price of wind power has fallen by 30% since 2012 and now stands at £100/MWh, compared to the £92.50/MWh agreed with EDF for the £18 billion Hinkley Point C power station. A new auction for a £290 million government subsidy takes place next month under the contracts-for-difference scheme, and it is expected that prices for offshore wind will fall  below that agreed for Hinkley Point C as the costs of wind power continue to fall, while those for nuclear remain fixed.

 

Wednesday 29th March

Under the Obama administration USAID was the largest donor for family planning worldwide, providing over $600 million annually. On 23rd January President Trump made an order that no US overseas aid can be given to any organisation providing abortion or information about abortions. The order affects all US global health funders even if only a tiny proportion of their work is concerned with abortion. It covers agencies dealing with HIV or child and maternal health which may provide advice on abortion. The director of MSI said: “Attempts to stop abortion through restrictive laws will never work, because they do not eliminate women’s need for abortion. This policy only exacerbates the already significant challenge of ensuring that women in developing countries who want time and space to have their children can obtain the contraception they need.”

 

Thursday 30th March

Air pollution is estimated to cause 7.2 million early deaths each year around the world, especially in polluted cities of India and China. Now Graviky Labs, a spin-off from MIT Media Labs, has produced ink from unburned carbon soot collected from car exhausts and chimneys in Bangalore, India. The soot is captured with a device called KAALINK which fits on the end of car exhausts to collect 93% of the outgoing pollutants. With support from beer brand Tiger, 150 litres of AIR-INK have been created for street artists around Asia, who use it to create a host of murals. Similarly, Dutch artist Daan Roosegaarde has pioneered a process of compressing carbon to make a range of ‘smog jewellery’.

 

Friday 31st March

It is predicted that within 10 years robots will have taken over much of the work now done by humans. This work includes not only routine agricultural operations, but also much of the work now done  in the caring professions. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is capable, it is claimed, of performing many jobs currently done by community carers. Loneliness among the elderly can be dealt with by the introduction of robotic pets. None of the advocates of AI deny that these products will lead to the loss of great numbers of jobs. Equally, nobody denies that robots are incapable of making the ethical and moral decisions now made by humans. Is this yet another example where the claims of a money-orientated society are allowed to ride roughshod over basic human needs?


Saturday 1st April

A YouGov poll has found that 45% of car-owning adults would change their car to a less polluting model if there was a government-backed diesel car scrappage scheme. The Chancellor in the budget announced a £690 million competition for local authorities to tackle urban congestion, but nothing to tackle urban pollution, which continues to cause 40,000 premature deaths annually. Instead: “The Government will continue to explore the appropriate tax treatment for diesel vehicles and will engage with stakeholders ahead of making tax changes in the autumn.” It is as though they said “We must wait for a few thousand more deaths before we decide what to do.”

 

Sunday 2nd April

Dear Lord, you have given us this beautiful world with boundless opportunities for us to use its resources wisely. Yet in our greed we have been robbing future generations and poisoning your world. Turn our hearts and minds to repentance, dear Lord,   that good stewardship becomes our prime goal, so that love of money is never allowed to override the claims of humanity.

 

Monday 3rd April

The budget speech made no reference either to climate change or to the low-carbon economy. Meanwhile the solar industry is threatened with an 80% increase in business rates levied on solar arrays, a move that will impact particularly on schools, hospitals and community groups that have installed solar panels. At the same time, the Chancellor promised support for the ailing oil and gas industry in the North Sea. Greenpeace commented: “Instead of supporting modern, clean, renewable energy, the Chancellor is seeking to prop up the oil and gas industry of the past.”

 

Tuesday 4th April

In the EU as a whole, official data show that renewable energy delivered almost 17% of EU energy during 2015 and that the EU is on track to meet its target to source 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020. Sweden already in 2015 derived 50% of its energy from renewables, with Denmark, Finland, Portugal, Latvia and Austria not far behind.           The UK fell 6.8% behind its 2015 target, although the Government expected emissions from the power sector to more than halve by 2020 owing to the closure of many coal-fired stations. However the report confirms that the UK will fall short of its carbon targets for the late 2020s and early 2030s based on current policies.

 

Wednesday 5th April

The Business Secretary has approved the construction of a 700 MWh pumped storage reservoir for electricity in two of Snowdonia’s abandoned slate quarries. Using surplus electricity from the national grid, the facility will pump water from a lower to an upper reservoir, where it will released at peak periods of electricity demand, so driving a turbine to generate electricity for up to 200,000 homes for 7 hours every day. The contractors, Snowdonia Pumped Hydro, are seeking funding for a similar facility at Glyn Rhonwy. The CEO of the Renewable Energy Association said: “We hope this is the first of many pumped hydro projects in the coming years which will improve our energy security, maximise value from already-constructed renewables and give us a leading edge in what is a growing international market.”

 

Thursday 6th April

Royal Dutch Shell has announced the sale of nearly all its oil interests in Canada for $7.25 billion, though it will continue to operate its Quest carbon capture & storage project. Because of the energy-intensive extraction and refining process, oil sands are only profitable with a high oil price. In a world of low oil prices and tighter curbs on carbon emissions, they are proving less attractive for investment. Last month ExxonMobil was forced to erase $16 billions-worth of Canadian oil sands investments from its reserves.

 

Friday 7th April

Shell’s CEO, Ben van Beurden, speaking at a conference of energy leaders in Houston, warned that those who trivialise the threat of climate change will exhaust public tolerance for fossil fuel companies if they are not careful. “We have to acknowledge that oil demand will peak and it could happen in the next decade . . . Trust has been eroding to the point where it is becoming a serious issue for our long-term future. This is the biggest challenge of my career.” Shell is already the biggest provider of renewable energy in the US through its wind farms and plans to invest $1 billion a year in green technologies and CCS. Evidently, however, it considers the investment climate in the UK rather less attractive.

 

Saturday 8th April

A successful court case against the South African Government has frustrated plans for a new coal-fired power station on the grounds that climate change impacts were not considered. This follows the decision by a federal court in Austria to block expansion of Vienna’s International Airport because the consequent increase in carbon emissions that a new runway would generate was inconsistent with Austria’s commitment to tackle climate change. Similar lawsuits challenging inaction on climate change have been filed in the US, New Zealand, Belgium and Switzerland

 

Sunday 9th April

Dear Father, prayer is a mystery. We do not understand how it works or how our feeble petitions reach you. But we know that Jesus prayed and opened the way into your presence. Help us to follow his example and teaching., and to learn to pray more naturally, more readily, more often, and always in Your Name.      (Llewellyn Cumings)

 

Monday 10th April

The Swansea Tidal Lagoon, now backed by a government-commissioned review, would consist of a 6-mile U-shaped sea wall with 16 embedded turbines. The gates are opened for incoming and outgoing tides, generating enough electricity to power 155,000 homes for 125 years. Tidal lagoons do not block an estuary, as would a tidal barrage, so would not affect fish migration. The electricity generated would average 6.5 p. per KWh over the 125 year lifetime, as compared with 12-13 p. for new offshore wind and 10 p. for onshore wind farms. Together with tidal lagoons in the Wash and Morecambe Bay, tidal power could provide around 5% of current UK electricity demand. By contrast, offshore wind could provide more than our current total electricity consumption.

 

Tuesday 11th April

A global network of over 7,000 cities, including nearly 40 in the UK, have signed up to a platform for sharing knowledge known as the Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy. Each city has pledged to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 40% by 2030. Each must submit within 2 years a Sustainable Energy & Climate Action Plan outlining the key actions they plan to take. For example, Oslo has the highest number of electric vehicles per capita, achieved through the installation of over 1,000 charging points. The Bristol Solar City Project aims to install one gigawatt of solar PV by 2020, with opportunities for communities to invest in installations on council properties rent-free.

 

Wednesday 12th April

Climate Local is an initiative of the Local Government Association to “drive, inspire and support council action on climate change. A year ago, only one-third of English councils had signed up. By contrast, all but four of Denmark’s 98 municipalities have a Climate Action Plan. 15 of them aim to become carbon neutral by producing enough renewables to offset fossil fuels used on transport, while 5 others aim to be free of fossil fuels entirely. UK council elections in May provide a unique opportunity to question candidates on their stance in dealing with climate change.

 

Thursday 13th April

The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 cover a range of topics such as poverty alleviation, public health, deforestation, sustainable farming and fishing, climate change, clean energy and human rights. 80 leading businesses including IKEA, Unilever and HSBC have written to the Prime Minister asking her to demonstrate publicly Britain’s backing for the SDGs. Theresa May, in her reply, said that work was already underway with the Office of National Statistics to develop a transparent reporting framework to measure performance against the SDGs, with a consultation planned for later this year. WWF has commented: “If the PM’s commitment to be at the forefront of delivering the SDGs is to be fulfilled, then we will need to see strong ministerial leadership and suitable government structures.”

 

Friday 14th April, Good Friday.

Lord Jesus, as we dwell on your great love for humankind in treading the path of the Cross for our sakes, help us to take up our own crosses in the struggle to protect your beautiful world. Give strength of purpose and the courage to go on, even when the path ahead seems beset with difficulties. Amen

 

Saturday 15th April

The Millennium Resolution.
Let there be respect for the Earth Peace for her people
Love in our lives
Delight in the good
Forgiveness for past wrongs and from now on, a new start. The Millennium Resolution of Churches Together in England.

 

Sunday 16th April. Easter Day.

Loving God, by whose power Christ was raised from the dead, so that the worst that men could do had no dominion over him, lay your hand, we pray, in loving tenderness on all who need this message most. We pray especially for:
All who have lost dear ones, and whose hearts are sad;
All who have lost their health and vitality;
All who have lost their livelihood;
All who have lost their faith.
Give us all such a vision of Christ’s risen glory that we too may trust in his power; that we too may know that nothing can separate us from your loving purposes or finally defeat your will. (Leslie Weatherhead)

 

Monday 17th April

The Green Ambassadors Awards 2017 have been launched by WWF and the People’s Postcode Lottery to encourage primary schools, their teachers and pupils and to showcase the best examples of schools in each country of the UK putting the environment and sustainability at the heart of what they. To enter, please visit: www.wwf.org.uk/gaawards17     The competition closes on April 20th. The winners in each country receive £1,000 each and the runners-up £500.

 

Tuesday 18th April

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has suffered another mass bleaching event – the 4th since 1998. Last year’s event killed 22% of all coral in the northern part of the Reef. This year, the mass killing extends right down the Reef as far as the tourist locations around Townsville. John Tanzer of WWF International said: “Coral reefs directly support the jobs, livelihoods and food supplies of many millions of people. Mass coral mortality is fast becoming a humanitarian and economic concern, and will soon be elevated to a crisis if reefs die alongside densely-populated coastlines and islands. The solutions are clear: we need a major lift in action to bring down carbon emissions and scale up efforts to reduce local pressures on reefs, so that they have maximum chance of withstanding the onslaught of climate change.”

 

Wednesday 19th April

A new Greenpeace report on marine plastic surveyed six companies – Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Danone, Nestle, Suntory and Dr Pepper Snappie and found that five of them (Coca-Cola declined to provide figures) together sold over 2 million tonnes of plastic bottles a year. The average percentage of recycled and bio-based material used was just over 6.6%, Four of the six did not even “consider the impact of plastic bottles on oceans in their product design and development process.” Two of them have a global policy of opposing deposit-return schemes, even though such schemes have been shown to boost recycling rates. Greenpeace comments: “Our lives are awash with throwaway plastic. 12 million tonnes of the stuff end up in our oceans each year, where it harms ocean life, spreads toxic chemicals and can take centuries to break down. So it’s not good enough for the biggest soft drinks companies in the world to pump out millions of tonnes of throwaway bottles and then blame everyone but themselves for the consequences. These companies need to phase out single-use plastic bottles NOW, embrace reusable packaging and make sure the remainder is made from 100% recycled content.”

 

Thursday 20th April

International shipping runs largely on highly-polluting ‘bunker fuel’. Now a 240-metre long Maersk tanker is to be fitted with rotary columns – described as ‘spinning sails’ – in a bid to achieve fuel savings of 7-10% a year – equivalent to about 1,000 tonnes of fuel. The 30-metre tall columns, built by Finnish firm Norsepower, interact with the wind to provide forward thrust. The trial is funded by the UK’s Energy Technology Institute, an industry/government partnership.

 

Friday 21st April

A report published in “Biological Conservation” finds that human pressures and forest loss are causing the degradation of over 100 of the 229 Natural World Heritage Sites. It highlights the growing threats from outside the NWHs resulting from population pressures. Lead author of the report, James Watson of Queensland University, said: “The world would never accept the Acropolis being knocked down, nor a couple of pyramids being flattened for housing estates or roads, yet, right now, across our planet, we are letting many of our natural world heritage sites be fundamentally altered.”

 

Saturday 22nd April

The so-called ‘Global Gag Rule’ was introduced by President Reagan to stop the US government giving aid money to foreign family-planning NGOs. Under the Obama presidency, USAID was the largest donor for family planning, providing over $600 million annually. Now President Trump has reinstated and expanded the ‘Global Gag Rule’ so that no US aid will be given to any organisation – however beneficial in other respects – that provides abortions or information about abortion. Marjorie Newman -Williams, director of MSI, said: “Attempts to stop abortion through restrictive – or by withholding family planning – will never work, because they do not eliminate women’s need for abortion. This policy only exacerbates the already significant challenge of ensuring that people in the developing world who want to time and space their children can obtain the contraceptives they need to do so.”

 

Sunday 23rd April

God created our eyes – and we looked for alternatives.
He formed our ears – and we listened to wrong voices.
He gave us feet – and we walked away from him into loss, loneliness and despair.
So God created a Light through the darkness, a Promise around lies and a Hope at the graveside.
For he is our Life and our Light. (Susan Lenzkes)

 

Monday 24th April

A coalition of civil society organisations have commented on the US-imposed ‘Global Gag Rule’. “There are 225 million women in developing countries who want to avoid pregnancy but are not using modern contraceptives. The burden of unsafe abortion – a leading cause of maternal death and injury – falls overwhelmingly on women in those regions. A reimposed ‘Global Gag Rule’ will reverse decades of progress on reproductive maternal and child health and increase unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions by putting critical services out of reach. The ‘Global Gag Rule’ violates the trusted relationship between a woman and her healthcare provider – sometimes at the cost of her life. A woman’s rights and her life and health should not depend on the whims of US politics.”

 

Tuesday 25th April

A project for eight floating wind turbines off the Aberdeenshire coast has been approved by the Scottish Government. It is expected to provide enough energy for nearly 56,000 homes. WWF Scotland commented: “The continued development of floating turbines is encouraging as it enables us and other nations to secure even more clean power from offshore wind. With the right political support, Scotland can remain on course to secure half its energy needs from renewable sources by 2030.”

 

Wednesday 26th April

Electricity generated in power stations is transmitted round the country at high voltage by the national grid. Then regional distribution companies transmit it to homes and businesses at a lower voltage. The volatility of renewables has disrupted that system, so that energy storage has become a hot issue. In Leighton Buzzard the largest grid-scale battery in the UK has since 2013 been powering 6,000 homes for 2 hours every day. The 6 MW. battery is however the size of three tennis courts.

 

Thursday 27th April

Another method of energy storage is being trialled in Manchester by Highview Power Storage. The process freezes air at -196 degrees C. using off-peak electricity. This produces liquid air which is stored in insulated tanks. To generate electricity, the air is pumped at high pressure, heated and evaporated, causing a 700-fold expansion in volume. The high-pressure gas then drives a turbine, generating electricity. Cryogenic storage is cheaper than battery storage and can support the grid longer than batteries – though batteries can be turned on and off in milliseconds.

 

Friday 28th April

A 2010 law requiring new developments to incorporate sustainable drainage was put on hold to save money and speed up house-building. Now a report from a coalition of water engineers, scientists, landscape designers and architects, headed by CIWEM, finds that this policy freeze has not sped up housebuilding, but has put homes at risk without saving any money. Half of all floods result from sewer and drainage systems being overwhelmed, and the problem is increased with urbanisation and more hard surfaces. Sustainable drainage can often incorporate natural features which provide additional benefits such as cleaning up water, creating wildlife benefits and providing healthy and attractive places to live. Terry Fuller of CIWEM said: “We recognise the need for one million new homes, but it is pointless to build in a way that creates flood risk for the future. Our analysis shows that the main obstacles high-quality drainage systems are political and institutional rather than technical or financial.”

 

Saturday 29th April

The Business & Sustainable Development  Commission representing more than 35 business and civil society leaders, in a report called “Better Business,  Better World” suggests that the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provide businesses with a new growth strategy to counter the anti-globalisation trend where businesses are perceived to be fuelling job insecurity, ever more  debt and ever greater environmental risks. “The SDGs  provide a sustainable and profitable growth model and could  trigger a new competitive ‘race to the top’. The faster CEOs and boards make the SDGs their business goals, the better off the world and their businesses will be.”

 

Sunday 30th April

God our Father, who rules the destinies of men and nations, we thank you for every happening which draws the people of the world nearer together in fellowship and purpose. Grant to all representatives of the nations, on whose word and attitude so much depends, the guidance of your Holy Spirit and the grace of humility, that they may be ready to see a point of view which differs from their own, and keep before them not merely the welfare of their own nation as they see it, but your will for the whole world. This we pray in the Name of your Son, Jesus Christ.      (Leslie Weatherhead)

 

Sources:
The Environment (CIWEM)
Resurgence
Population Matters Magazine
Clean Slate (CAT)
BusinessGreen.

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