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“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” (Psalm 24.1)
“God desires that all the world shall be pure in his sight. The earth should not be injured.
The earth should not be destroyed.” (Hildegarde of Bingen)
“Our world needs to be astonished by love rather than sickened by evil” (Roy McCloughry)
“The fruit of Silence is Prayer, The fruit of Prayer is Faith,
The fruit of Faith is Love, The fruit of Love is Service
The fruit of Service is Peace.” (Mother Theresa)
Tuesday 27th June
Swedish firm Vattenfall is building a 228 MW. 76-turbine wind farm at Pen y Cymoedd in Wales, with a pioneering 22 MW. battery system which will store power generated by the wind turbines to help stabilise the electricity grid. Known as ‘Enhanced Frequency Response’, this service evens out the electricity output. When the frequency falls, power is pumped into the grid. If it gets too high, the batteries can draw in excess power. The system, known as ‘battery@pyc‘ is expected to be introduced at Vattefall’s wind farms across Europe.
Wednesday 28th June
Offshore wind turbines have more than doubled their power capacity since Dong Energy constructed its first turbines off the Merseyside coast in 2007. As the efficiency and power potential of each turbine increases, the costs keep falling. In the latest Government auction, the strike price for Dong Energy’s new Bobo Bank wind farm is expected to fall below that contracted for Hinkley Point C. Its cables are manufactured at Hartlepool and its blades in Hull and the Isle of Wight
Thursday 29th June
Scottish Power’s £2.5 billion East Anglia wind project is due to power the grid in 2019. Meanwhile, Scottish Power has put in successful bids.for two major US offshore wind projects, each the size of its entire UK portfolio. The USA is one of 43 countries that British marine and wing power industries have started to export to as part of a $290 billion global renewable energy market. Renewable UK comments: “British innovation and expertise are valued highly around the world. Other countries are looking closely at our world-leading offshore wind industry and seeking to learn from it.”
Friday 30th June
From tomorrow until the 9th, a week of action on climate change, organised by the UK Climate Coalition will provide inspiration and encouragement for everyone concerned about our climate. There will be local opportunities for people to speak out about the things they care about, with nature walks, tea parties and visits to community energy projects. See www.theclimatecoalition.org.uk
Saturday 1st July
From today until the 9th a series of events throughout the country will take place around a Week of Action on climate change. Advice on setting up a local event and inviting your MP can be found at https://weekofaction.org.uk This is an opportunity for MPs to champion what their constituents are doing to tackle climate change and to ensure that UK policies will help keep global temperatures to a safe level.
Sunday 2nd July
Father, we know that in all creation only the human family has strayed from the sacred way. We know that we are the ones who, working together, must come back to the path you have set out for us. Dear Father, teach us love, compassion and integrity, that we may heal the earth and heal each other.
Monday 3rd July
It was hugely disappointing that President Trump decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. This will make it harder for the world to reach a safer and more prosperous future. 84% of people in a UK poll want the Prime Minister to urge the USA to rejoin the Agreement. Nevertheless, with the other 196 nations who signed the Agreement, we must forge ahead with plans to meet our commitments. It is what the public wants, what makes economic sense and it’s where the world needs to be if we are to safeguard the lives of future generations.
Tuesday 4th July
Sweden’s parliament has voted overwhelmingly for a law setting a target to make Sweden a zero-emission country by 2045 – the first country to do this. WWF comments: “This vote is the result of cross-party support for climate action and collaboration between politicians, businesses, charities and the public. In passing the Climate Change Act, Britain led the world. We cannot afford to fall behind countries such as Sweden and Norway in reaping the benefits of strong commitments to action. The only way to achieve our climate goals is to embrace the opportunities presented by renewables and the technologies that support their development.”
Wednesday 5th July
The influential analysts Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that the costs of solar power will fall a further 66% by 2040 while onshore wind energy costs will fall by 47%. As a result, renewables are tipped to undercut most fossil fuel power stations as early as 2030. “The greening of the world’s electricity system is unstoppable, thanks to rapidly falling costs for solar and wind power, and a growing role for batteries, including those in electric vehicles, in balancing supply and demand.”
Thursday 6th July
Analysis by WWF Scotland shows that, during May, wind turbines provided enough electricity to supply the needs of 95% of Scottish households and 46% of the entire Scottish electricity demand. For homes fitted with solar panels there was enough sunshine to generate over 100% of the electricity needs of an average household in all of Scotland’s cities.
Friday 7th July
Petrochemicals company Ineos has licences to explore for shale gas across swathes of the UK including the 3,800 acre estate of the National Trust. However, the NT has refused access for seismic surveying in Clumber Park, Notts., and Ineos has threatened legal action to enforce access to the land under the Mines (Working Facilities and Support) Act 1966. The NT is opposed to fracking and will not allow surveying for fracking purposes. Ineos says it will continue survey work in the area surrounding Clumber Park. Ordinary NT members might be forgiven for assuming that NT land was inalienable for mining purposes.
Saturday 8th July
“Working towards a net Zero Carbon Economy” is the title of a free conference taking place today from 10 to 3 at St Michael’s House, 11 Priory Row, Coventry CV1 5EX. The conference is organised by the Coventry Cathedral Reconciliation Ministry. Keynote speakers: James Buchanan (Operation Noah), George Browning (Farmer), Bob Sherman (Harbury eWheels) and Tony McNally (Low Carbon Business & Communities). The conference is free but donations are welcome for the sandwich lunch.
Sunday 9th July
Father, you have made us stewards of your world and entrusted us with the wonders of your creation. Be with us in our efforts to guard your creation from waste and abuse, so that we may enjoy with thankful hearts the fruits of the earth and share them with all who are in need.
Monday 10th July
Tim Jackson, Professor of Sustainable Development at Surrey University and author of ‘Prosperity without Growth’, suggests that the vision of progress as a paradise of continually rising consumption has come under scrutiny, not only from those who doubt its feasibility on a finite planet, but also from those wondering where economic growth can come from in the wake of the worst financial crisis in almost a century. “Austerity policies failed to solve the underlying issues and created new social problems. The injustice of bailing out the architects of the crisis at the expense of its victims became plain. It has led to an increasingly disenfranchised public and sown the seeds for wider social unrest.”
Tuesday 11th July
Conventional wisdom is to get growth back again as soon as possible, to re-stimulate demand, to re-incentivise business, to dismantle regulations and to free up the spirit of enterprise that keeps the wheels of capitalism turning. But (says Jackson) prosperity for the few, founded on ecological destruction and persistent social injustice is no foundation for a civilised society. “We stand in urgent need of a renewed sense of shared prosperity and a deeper commitment to ecological and social justice in a finite world.”
Wednesday 12th July
Two-thirds of European countries have youth unemployment rates above 20%. In Greece and Spain youth unemployment is over 40%. This enormous waste of human energy is also a recipe for civil and social unrest. Yet the problem is set to get worse. A combination of automation and artificial intelligence is about to revolutionise the world of work, leading to levels of labour productivity so high that they will massively reduce paid employment. Unemployment could significantly exceed the levels reached in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
Thursday 13th July
Fritz Schumacher in ‘Small is Beautiful’ wrote: “The ideal from the point of view of the employer is to have output without employees, and the ideal from the point of view of the employee is to have income without employment.” But higher unemployment generates rising welfare costs. Higher welfare costs lead to unwieldy levels of government debt. Higher government debt limits public spending, depressing demand yet again. Jackson propounds two ways of escaping this productivity trap. One is to accept growth in productivity and reap its rewards in terms of reduced working hours and a better work-life balance.. The other is to ease up on productivity growth and to shift economic activity to more labour-intensive sectors – such as healthcare and the creative arts.
Friday 14th July
The care and concern of one human being for another is incapable of being commodified. It cannot be stockpiled, nor does it degrade. Its quality rests on the attention paid by one person to another. Yet compassion fatigue is a rising scourge in health sectors hounded by meaningless productivity targets. Likewise with arts and crafts. It is the time spent practising, rehearsing and performing that gives creative arts their appeal. What is to be gained by asking a symphony orchestra to reduce its rehearsal time and play Beethoven’s Choral Symphony faster each time?
Saturday 15th July
Jackson points out that the economy of care, craft and creativity is rich in the participation of women. Though often underpaid and undervalued, these sectors are vital to our health, security and well-being. They also bring social norms that embody decency, tradition and concern for others, so providing a genuine antidote to the hyper-materialism of the consumer society. Achieving full employment therefore may have less to do with chasing after endless productivity growth and more about building an economy around care, craft and culture, and so restoring the value of decent work to the heart of our society.
Sunday 16th July
Deliver us, dear Father, from the worship of power – power over nature and power over our fellow humans. Save us from the worship of science, so that, while we acknowledge the God-given gifts of scientists, we may be spared the abuse of scientific discoveries. Free us from false hopes and misplaced trust, so that in you alone we may find our hope and our salvation.
Monday 17th July
When we purchase any object, it is not the object itself that we desire, but the service it provides – whether it is nutrition, health, education, leisure or recreation. For example, no one wants oil, coal or gas in itself, but rather what they provide in terms of warmth, light and mobility. However, many of these services can be obtained in different ways. In a well-insulated house, warmth can be achieved with much lower consumption of oil or gas. A further bonus is that lower consumption means fewer greenhouse gas emissions.. Thinking in terms of services reveals new ways to decarbonise or dematerialise human activities.
Tuesday 18th July
Why, asks Jackson, do we continue to invest in destructive supply chains populated with underpaid workers labouring in dangerous conditions when there are decent alternatives and promising technologies available? Shareholders are increasingly exercising their power to reject companies that damage the environment, exploit cheap labour or short-cut good governance. Good investment relies on the performance of the economy tomorrow and it’s increasingly clear that the future will look rather different from the financial architecture of the past. “The days of privatising benefit and socialising cost are numbered.”
Wednesday 19th July
All but 5% of the money supply is created by commercial banks making loans. This means that the state can only finance social investment through commercial (interest-bearing) debt. Sustainable investment must also compete for funds with financial speculation in commodities, property or financial assets, some of which invest in dirty, extractive industries that degrade the environment. The Chicago Plan, put forward by the IMF in 2012, calls for return of control over money supply to the state. Similar proposals are under consideration in Iceland, the Netherlands and Switzerland Handing the power of money creation to commercial interests was a recipe for financial instability, social inequality and political impotence. Reclaiming that right in the national interest is a strong tool in the struggle for lasting and inclusive prosperity.
Thursday 20th July
Severe droughts in California and Pakistan, deadly wildfires in Portugal and catastrophic floods elsewhere have been described as “the new normal” in climate patterns. No technology, present or future, can increase snowfall in the mountains (on which the great rivers of Asia depend) or alter the course of a hurricane or reduce sea levels. Happily, according to Jon and David Ehrenfeld, there are many low-tech strategies or mitigation tools that can reduce our vulnerability to climate shocks. These include education, constructive land use, conservation and protective zoning as well as community adaptation and preparedness.
Friday 21st July
“A Sabbath for the Earth and the Poor: The Challenge of Pope Francis” is the title of this year’s weekend conference, beginning today, of the National Justice and Peace Network at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick, Derbyshire. Speakers include: Dr Ruth Valerio (Tearfund), Fr Peter Hughes (advisor to the Council of Latin American Bishops), and Kathy Galloway (Christian Aid Scotland)
Chairman: Susy Brouard (CAFOD) Celebrant: Fr Sean McDonagh
Booking form on the website www.justice-and-peace.org.uk should be sent with a cheque for the £50 deposit in favour of NJPN to 39 Eccleston Square, London SW1V 1BX. Tel. 020 7901 4864.
Saturday 22nd July
Although the plastic bag charge has been a success, household recycling rates have fallen, with much recyclable materials contaminated and made useless for recycling. A survey of 2,200 people found that 78% are confused by council recycling rules and 69% regularly discard recyclable items as waste. Last month over a thousand people took part in the Marine Conservation Society’s Plastic Challenge by avoiding using single-use plastics altogether. Simon Reeves, the TV presenter, said: “Our planet is becoming poisoned by plastic. The vast amount in our oceans has become an environmental emergency as a direct result of our throwaway society. Don’t just get depressed about plastic – stop using it!”
Sunday 23rd July
In these troubled days, dear Father, we turn to thee. Grant to our nation a clear vision of her highest good and to our leaders a clear judgement as to how that good may be attained. May the temporary triumph of parties and special interests, and the transient success of individuals, be surrendered to the common welfare. Make our dear land the instrument of thy will, and our people thy people, working willingly for the good of all, sharing thy goodness, serving one another and dwelling in peace and joy. (Leslie Weatherhead -adapted)
Monday 24th July
Centrica, the owners of British Gas, has announced plans to close Britain’s biggest gas storage reservoir known as Rough. This lies under the North Sea and has enough capacity to meet 10% of the UK’s peak gas demand during the winter. The 32-year old facility has reached the end of its life and Centrica will apply for permission to recover the 183 billion cu. feet of gas currently stored there. Ukoog, the gas and oil trade body, commented; “The solution for the UK in the medium term cannot be to transport gas across oceans and continents.” However, fracking for gas faces major obstacles, notably the question of disposal of its wastewater, which is six times more saline than the oceans.
Tuesday 25th July
The Queen’s speech promised a new Automated and Electric Vehicles Bill to allow for the further development of electric vehicles (EVs), provide for the installation of charging points for electric and hydrogen vehicles and extend compulsory vehicle insurance to automated vehicles. The Bill could see service stations required by law to install EV charging points. While no fresh action to improve air quality was promised in the speech, the accelerated take-up of EVs should provide at least a partial solution.
Wednesday 26th July
Greenpeace chief scientist Doug Parr commented on the speech: “Theresa May is doing the right thing by following other world leaders in restating the Government’s commitment to the Paris Agreement, since Britain cannot afford to follow Donald Trump down the path of anti-science and isolation that’s costing the US prestige and influence. However, a wider environmental programme is urgently required. We simply can’t wait another two years before we start tackling the illegal air pollution harming our health, and the mountain of plastic flowing into our seas. These threats cannot be ‘paused’ while the Government sorts out the Brexit talks.”
Thursday 27th July
Coca-Cola, the world’s biggest drinks company, produces over 3,400 single-use plastic bottles every second and yet disclaims responsibility for one of the biggest threats facing our oceans – plastic waste. A Greenpeace survey of a remote beach on the Isle of Mull took place last month. This beach had recently been cleaned up by Marine Conservation Society volunteers. However a 30-minute visit by Greenpeace revealed the following:
“The stacks of plastic waste awaiting collection were phenomenal in scale and there was even more plastic washing up. In the dunes surrounding the beach, you could hear the crackle of plastic bottles just below the surface – bottles so embedded in the dunes that many were matted and entwined in the foliage.” Besides Coca-Cola, the plastic bottles came from PepsiCo, Nestle, Danone and A G Barr. How much more of this plastic waste has been carried out to sea, where it remains out of sight and out of mind – a perpetual threat to the marine life on which millions of humans depend?
Friday 28th July
Thames Water has been fined £8.55 million for missing its leakage targets by 47 million litres per day. WWF comments: “Wastage of water is not only bad for our environment and costly to our wildlife, but it is costing consumers more and more in water bills. Often it is cheaper to drain a river than to fix a leak, which is one reason why we have seen so many rivers dry up this spring. It is a travesty that one-third of all water taken from the natural environment is still wasted, through leaky pipes, inefficient processes and waste in the home.”
Saturday 29th July
A report from WWF reveals that no major global bank has robust policies to safeguard World Heritage Sites (WHS) from irreparable damage. Almost half of all WHSs listed for their natural values are threatened by harmful practices such as oil and gas exploration and mining, and many banks lend to companies whose activities could cause damage to WHSs. Banks need to take responsibility for securing the future of our World Heritage sites or their reputation and long-term value may be at risk. The International Council of Mining and Metals made a decision in 2003 not to mine or explore in WHSs, yet these sites are still at risk from rogue companies
Sunday 30th July
Lord, have mercy on our wayward world, now tottering on the brink of self-destruction.
Have mercy on the rulers and politicians who bear the ultimate burden of government.
Have mercy on our nation as we face our share of responsibility. Lord, have mercy on us all, and grant us your forgiveness. Amen.
Monday 31st July
El Salvador has become the first country on earth to ban metal mining, after its parliament approved a law to protect the nation’s water supply. Over 90% of its water supply is polluted after years of lax industrial controls and unsustainable farming. The decision follows a campaign uniting Catholic, community and civil society groups under the slogan “No to mining, yes to life”.Mining company OceanaGold sued El Salvador for over £200 million to compensate for being refused a licence to mine, but it lost the case last November and was ordered to pay £6.4 million towards El Salvador’s legal costs.
The Environment (CIWEM)
Resurgence & Ecologist
“Prosperity without Growth” by Tim Jackson
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