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“Work for the Lord with untiring effort and with great earnestness of spirit. If you have hope, this will make you cheerful. Do not give up if trials come: keep on praying.” (Romans 12.11-12)
“Act as if everything depended on you: wait as if everything depended on God.” (St. Ignatius Loyola)
“God could do his work without us, but he chooses not to because he wants it to be a team effort. Does that mean that if you and I don’t make ourselves available to him, then some things just might not get done? I wonder.” (Selwyn Hughes)
Tuesday 21st February
Last year France became the first country to ban supermarkets from throwing away unwanted food, introducing fines of up to 75,000 euros if shops refused to send food to charities. Italy too has made it easier for companies and farmers to donate food to charities and encourages the use of ‘doggy bags’ in restaurants. In the UK, according to WRAP, households throw away more than 7 million tonnes of food each year worth an average of £700 per household. Sainsbury’s has now scrapped its multi-buy promotions and substituted a lower price structure. It has announced a £1 million fund for its ‘waste less, save more’ strategy after a successful trial at Swadlincote, Derbyshire, where there were community events, school programmes and new technologies for households. All supermarkets agree that ‘best before’ and ‘use by’ labels can be misleading, but Waitrose suggests that such labels on fresh produce help them to rotate stock properly so as to give the best product to consumers.
Wednesday 22nd February
Graham Harvey, in a new book called “Grass-fed Nation: Getting Back the Food We Deserve” argues that since the 1970s we have been told that too much animal fat is bad for us, that it makes us fat and cause cholesterol-based plaques to build up in the arteries, which leads to coronary heart disease (CHD). However, back in the 1950s Sir Hugh Sinclair showed that polyunsaturated fats of the kind found in vegetables and fish oils reduce plaque, and hence the risk of CHD. Now it turns out that in cattle fed on concentrates of cereals and pulses the fat is highly saturated, with low levels of polyunsaturates. By contrast, when they are fed on pasture alone, their fat contains much more omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturates in roughly equal parts – just what the human body needs. Therefore, he says, grass-fed beef and sheep should be positively beneficial.
Thursday 23rd February
Every winter weekday between 3 and 8 pm in Britain there is an upward surge in electricity consumption, peaking at around 7 gigawatts. This is largely created by domestic consumers returning from work and switching on water heating and drying appliances such washing machines, tumble driers and immersion heaters.. The 3.2 gigawatt Hinkley C power station would be unnecessary if we, the householders, changed our habits so that heavy use of electricity was shifted to off-peak periods. Industry and large commercial users are already penalised for using electricity at peak times. If each of the 30 million UK householders that use electricity reduced their peak consumption by just 250 watts – or 3 old-fashioned light bulbs – the peak would disappear. Tax incentives are not needed. Peer pressure alone could achieve this.
Friday 24th February
About 70% of Iceland’s electricity comes from hydropower through glacial run-off. Most of this is sold cheaply to its three aluminium smelters, but for some of the year the excess energy is simply wasted. Investors including Siemens are looking at the possibility of 800-mile undersea cables carrying this surplus energy to Britain by high-voltage direct current. Hydropower from Iceland could provide the UK with 1 gigawatt of stable baseload electricity and could plug much of the gap left when, in Britain, the wind fails to blow and the sun fails to shine.
Saturday 25th February
The Government-owned Green Investment Bank is to be sold off and the Australian bank Macquarie is the Government’s preferred bidder. However concerns have been raised that Macquarie would like to dismember the GIB and sell off its assets, which include wind farms and biomass energy schemes. Now an investment fund called Sustainable Development Capital is putting in a bid which would delay the sale of the assets for 2-3 years so that the Government and taxpayers could reap more value from the bank’s future growth. By that time the GIB’s earnings would have increased from investment of its remaining portfolio and cost efficiencies through economies of scale.
Sunday 26th February
Creator God, you have called us to be keepers of your Earth. Through greed we have established an economy that destroys the web of life. We have changed our climate and are drowning in despair. Let oceans of justice flow. May we learn to sustain and renew the life of our Mother Earth. (Archbishop Desmond Tutu)
Monday 27th February
A crack in the Larsen C ice shelf on the Antarctic Peninsula has recently extended to more than 50 miles. Scientists say that it only needs to extend another 12 miles before some 1,930 square miles of ice breaks off into the ocean, so raising sea levels around the world.
Tuesday 28th February
On March 18th the annual conference of the John Ray Institute takes place at Bournville College, Birmingham from 9.30 to 4.30 under the title “Nature in the Balance: can we put a value on the environment, and should we?” Keynote speakers are Dr. Darren Evans on “Ecosystem Services”, Professor Richard Bauckham on “Why do other creatures matter?” and Rev. Dave Bookless on “Biblical wisdom for Nature Conservation”. For more details go to: www.jri.org.uk
Wednesday 1st March
A survey of 1,670 adults by YouGov on behalf of ClientEarth has found that 58% of the public believe that current levels of air pollution are harmful to health. The figure rose to 78% among Londoners. 65% of those polled said they would support a new Clean Air Act to tackle the issue. Simon Birkett of Clean Air in London said: “ 60 years after the first Clean Air Act dealt with respiratory problems caused by short-term exposure to visible air pollution from coal and wood burning, we need a new Clean Air Act to address newly-understood health effects that include heart attacks and strokes from long-term exposure to invisible air pollution from diesel fumes.”
Thursday 2nd March
The European Commission has issued a ‘final warning’ to five EU states including Britain over their failure to bring air pollution below EU-wide limits. The states have two months in which to take steps to tackle the problem, failing which they risk prosecution in the European Court of Justice. According to Greenpeace, the Government is still incentivising consumers to buy new diesel vehicles that are pumping out illegal levels of pollution. “Vehicle Excise Duty on car sales should incentivise cleaner vehicle choices and deter diesel sales.” However, Transport for London already has more than 120 zero-emission electric buses in service and will stop buying diesel-only double-decker buses from 2018 as it switches to a mix of pure electric, hybrid electric and fuel cell buses.
Friday 3rd March
From next October in central London, all the most polluting vehicles built before 2006 will be subject to a £10 ‘toxicity charge’ in addition to the £11.50 congestion charge. The Mayor of London said: “It’s staggering that we live in a city where the air is so toxic that many of our children are growing up with lung problems. That is why today, on the 14th anniversary of the start of the congestion charge, we are pressing ahead with the toughest emission standard of any major city, from October 23rd onwards.”
Saturday 4th March
A ComRes survey of 2,045 British adults has found that 64% say that climate change is primarily due to human activity. 8 out of 10 say that they are concerned about the impact of climate change on wildlife and nature, and over 79% say they are concerned about increased flood risks. Professor Joanna Haigh of Imperial College’s Grantham Institute said: “For people who have worked on climate change for decades, the finding that people recognise the sheer weight of scientific evidence is extremely heartening. But as the climate system sends increasingly urgent signals of the stress it is coming under, this understanding must be turned into action to address the problem. We have the means to avoid the very worst impacts of climate change and create a cleaner, healthy society. All it takes is the will.”
Sunday 5th March
Father, we pray that your people, whether they be ministers, scientists or lay people, may find the strength to give clear witness of the need to care for the world that you created. May they speak out courageously on the changes in lifestyle that are now seen to be necessary to protect your creation. Amen.
Monday 6th March
16 leading investors and insurers including Aviva and Legal & General have urged G20 nations to halt all subsidies for fossil fuels by 2020, warning that ongoing government support for fossil fuels risks destabilising the financial sector and jeopardising the goals set out in the Paris Agreement. Their statement said: “Subsidies and public finance supporting the production and consumption of fossil fuels increase the risk of stranded fossil fuel assets, decrease the competitiveness of key industries including low-carbon businesses, and negate the carbon price signals many of us have been calling for.”
Tuesday 7th March
Following Brexit, Britain needs a new trade deal with the USA, but concerns are being raised about what that deal might mean, bearing in mind the new President’s declared position on the environment, climate, energy and trade. For Britain’s farmers this poses special problems. For example, US beef cannot be sold in the UK because growth-promoting hormones are legal in the US, but illegal here. Hormones cause cattle to grow larger and faster and to produce leaner meat. The practice leads to lower costs of production, but it has devastating environmental impacts. It would be near-impossible for British beef to compete with US beef produced on vast feedlots using hormone-treated grains.
Wednesday 8th March
EU regulations governing the safety levels of pesticides in foods are regarded by all US administrations as ‘barriers to trade’. The neonicotinoid pesticides banned in the EU because of suspected damage to bee populations are perfectly legal in the US, despite mounting evidence of the harm they cause. Imports of US fruit grown with pesticides banned in Britain could undermine all the efforts of Britain’s farmers to reduce the use of pesticides.
Thursday 9th March
The use of GM ingredients in food and animal feed is severely restricted in EU countries, while the US government has castigated our policies on GM foods as ‘barriers to trade’. Yet GM crop production around the world has caused huge environmental and social problems, facilitating the growth of industrial monocultures, but signally failing to boost global crop production. If GM crops were to be grown in Britain, non-GM and organic producers would struggle to grow the GM-free foods that supermarkets and their customers demand, particularly if there are no rules to prevent GM crops contaminating others.
Friday 10th March
Any attempt to de-regulate our environmental laws as a concession in a Trump-led trade deal could result in loss of markets within the EU. We have a clear choice. Do we offer up our hard-won standards in the hope that we can compete with US producers on a level playing field? Or do we seize the opportunity of Brexit to bring forward new policies on food and farming that can deliver high-quality food produced in an environmentally-friendly way? To achieve this requires a unified approach from farmers, retailers and the general public alike.
Saturday 11th March
The House of Lords EU Energy & Environment subcommittee, together with the Commons Environmental Audit Committee, has warned that merely incorporating EU environmental laws into Britain’s post-Brexit legislation would leave a yawning gap in the means of enforcing them. Both the European Commission and the European Court of Justice have vital roles in monitoring and enforcing environmental laws. If the UK fails to comply – as it has with air pollution standards – it will end up in court. Therefore a new domestic enforcement mechanism must be underpinned by judicial oversight, and people must be able to go to court to defend their environment. As the senior lawyer at ClientEarth put it: “This is the only way to make sure the environmental gains of the last 40 years are not lost.”
Sunday 12th March
Dear Father, we know that while we in our country have an abundance of good things, many in the world are in terrible want. Give us the courage to face these things and to think more deeply about them. May thought lead to action in whatever way is in our power; for the sake of your dear Son, our Saviour (Frank Colquhoun)
Monday 13th March
Shell has announced plans to decommission four oil-drilling platforms at its Brent field in the North Sea. However, some of the giant legs, each weighing 300,000 tonnes, will be left in situ. WWF Scotland accepts that moving the concrete legs could pose unacceptable risks. The OSPAR agreement allows them to be left. However, “Given the enormous size of the rigs and the iconic nature of the Brent field, its decommissioning is being watched closely, both here and globally, and it should therefore set the highest possible benchmarks for the rest of the industry to follow. If done right, it could enable this country to lead a new multi-billion pound global decommissioning industry that could create thousands of jobs as we transition away from fossil fuels.”
Tuesday 14th March
Bacteria across the world are developing resistance to antibiotics, leaving us with no treatment for previously curable diseases. According to the director of the WHO “Doctors facing patients will have to say, ‘I’m sorry – there’s nothing I can do for you.’ With few replacement products in the pipeline, the world is heading to a post-antibiotic era in which common infections will once again kill.” At the heart of the problem is the way we produce our food. Industrial farming keeps livestock in such unhealthy conditions that they would become ill without antibiotics. But rather than improving conditions, big farms dose their animals with antibiotics to avoid diseases, even though feeding a constant low dose of antibiotics creates the perfect environment for bacteria to develop resistance. These resistant bacteria can then enter the human food chain and spread across the entire population.
Wednesday 15th March
Canadian law professor Joel Balkan in 2004 wrote “The Corporation” – on which the later film was based – tracing the corporation’s rise to dominance through its freedom from legal constraints and through deregulation and privatisation. The managers of corporations have a legal obligation always to put the interests of the company first – above that of its workers, society at large and the environment. In other words, they are legally constituted to be profoundly selfish. Balkan urges the re-establishment of democratic control over our corporations and, more generally, a deepening of democratic governance of society.
Thursday 16th March
A report from the UN Food & Agriculture Organisation finds that deforestation in South America is again on the rise, despite a moratorium since 2006 on growing soya crops on deforested land. Now investors from the Netherlands and USA representing $500 billion of assets are calling on big listed companies to drop suppliers that contribute to deforestation in South America. The new Latin America Forest Protection Initiative aims to help companies adopt a zero-deforestation policy modelled on the soya moratorium.
Friday 17th March
In the US during 2016 a record 14.6 gigawatts of solar capacity was installed, due primarily to the tumbling cost of solar panels. Solar accounted for 39% of all new power capacity and the industry now employs more than 260,000 Americans. In Britain, details obtained from 332 local authorities show that 71% have no plans for solar investment. Some blamed changes to government subsidies, others the cuts in financial support for LA s. However, some councils have pressed ahead. Swindon Council has launched a series of solar bonds, while Stanley Town Council has teamed up with North Star Solar to offer fuel-poor households the chance to install solar panels, battery storage technology and LED lighting free of charge and independent of government subsidies.
Saturday 18th March
“Nature in the Balance” is the title of the John Ray Institute conference taking place today from 9.30 to 4.30 at Bournville College, Birmingham. The subtitle is “Can we put a value on the environment? And should we?” Keynote speakers: Dr. Darren Evans on “Ecosystem Services”, Professor Richard Bauckham on “Why do other creatures matter?” and Revd. Dave Bookless on “Biblical Wisdom for Nature Conservation”. A flyer with booking arrangements is available at: http://www.jri.org.uk/wp/wp-
Sunday 19th March
Lord, protect your creation and defend the work of your hands.
Wash our hands of their clutch on dirty energy.
Save our generation from our addiction to fossil fuels.
Cleanse our hearts of our desire for more and more.
Give us a vision of the blessings we will receive if we turn away from idolatry of the economy and bow to wisdom and truth.
Show us a kinder, simpler lifestyle that will allow us to see your glory more clearly. (Ruth Jarman)
Monday 20th March
Lords has become the first cricket ground in Britain to switch to 100% renewable energy. The Climate Coalition’s “Show the Love” campaign was launched at a cricket match there by children from All Souls Primary School, London. Christian Aid and UNICEF have published a “Weather Warning” report illustrating how extreme weather events linked to climate change are already impacting on cricket grounds. The floods of December 2015 caused £3.5 million of damage across 57 cricket clubs.
Tuesday 21st March
The Hendry Review recommended government support for the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon project. Now a new tidal energy project called the Wyre Project is being developed off the Lancashire coast by Atlantis Resources in partnership with Natural Energy Wyre. It would mimic actual tidal cycles so as to minimise environmental disruption, with six turbines spanning the river mouth. It is designed to generate up to 400 GWh of carbon-free power while contributing to flood protection along the Lancashire coast.
Wednesday 22nd March
A report from research body Climate Analytics finds that the EU can only meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement if all its 315 coal-fired power stations are closed by 2031.. If they were allowed to continue until the end of their designed life, the EU would overshoot its Paris commitments by 85%. In addition “Not only existing coal plants exceed the EU’s emissions budget, but the 11 new plants already announced would raise EU emissions to almost twice the levels required to keep within the Paris Agreement.” The UK has already shut down most of its coal-fired plants, with coal now making up less than 4% of the UK’s electricity generation However, Germany and Poland together are responsible for 51% of installed coal capacity in the EU.
Thursday 23rd March
Steel production is a notoriously energy-intensive process with a huge carbon footprint. Now a consortium including Siemens, steel firm Voestalpine and hydropower firm Verbund has secured funding for a 6 MW project to build a large electrolysis plant at Linz to harness hydropower to produce hydrogen by electrolysis. The hydrogen is then directed into an internal gas network, allowing for its use in various stages of steel production.. More than 95% of the hydrogen currently used around the world is produced by a highly-intensive gas reforming process. The CEO of Siemens Austria said: “The CO2-heavy hydrogen can be replaced by hydrogen from electrolysis. If this is undertaken with electricity from renewable sources, the hydrogen production is virtually carbon-neutral.”
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?
Ninety Nine (Global Justice Now)
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