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“The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will. (Romans 8.26-7)
“God pours his redemptive power into the world through the funnel of his people’s prayers. The more prayer that is made, the more power gets through. In some situations God does not move except in response to the prayers of his people.” (W.E. Sangster)
“Prayer is the purest exercise of the faculties God has given us – an exercise that links our faculties with our Maker in order to work out his intentions. (Selwyn Hughes)
Thursday 26th May
Sainsbury’s has become the first company to use naturally-refrigerated trailers. Hitherto, the refrigerants used have been trichlorofluoromethanes such as freon-11 and CFC-11 as well as ammonia and propane. The new Carrier Transicold trailer unit uses only CO2 in a closed loop system. Reducing emissions from transport is of course a key component in the Government’s strategy to reach EU emissions-reductions targets.
Friday 27th May
President Obama on his visit to Europe strongly advocated the proposed Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) which aims to remove trade barriers between the US and the EU. But many regard TTIP as a grave threat to consumers, workers, the environment and citizens everywhere. It is being negotiated in secret by unelected bureaucrats and lawyers. Under the guise of removing “barriers to trade” it is set to enhance the profits of big corporations at the expense of national food, safety and environmental standards. Under the mechanism known as Investor State Dispute Settlement, TTIP will give corporations the power to sue elected governments in secret tribunals whenever they pass laws that threaten corporate profits.
Saturday 28th May
Over 3 million people have signed an EU-wide petition against TTIP, one-sixth of them coming from the UK. Opposition here is led by War on Want and Global Justice Now. In order to alert local councils, universities and workplaces to the facts about TTIP, a campaign pack is available at www.ttipfreezone.org.uk
Sunday 29th May
Loving Father, lead us into the darkness that we may find what lies concealed;
That we may confess it towards the light;
That we may carry our truth into the centre of our heart;
That we may carry our cross wisely and bring harmony into our life and our world. (Michael Leunig)
Monday 30th May
A petition to the Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group has been launched by Bright Now asking them to “make an explicit commitment to disinvest from companies involved in the extraction of oil, coal and gas as soon as possible”. It also urges national investment bodies to explore options for investment in clean alternatives to fossil fuels. The petition is available at: www.brightnow.org.uk
Tuesday 31st May
On the 20th and 21st June an international conference takes place in Cambridge to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Thomas Malthus, author of the“Essay on the Principle of Population”. This book has never been out of print as it touches so many areas of concern – good and bad government, equality and inequality, food and agriculture, demography and human behaviour, sex and gender, land and property, and economics. There has been increasing public debate on the environment, population and food security. Twenty-two speakers from around the world will consider his legacy and relevance to today’s issues. The conference, called “Malthus: Food, Land and People”, takes place at CRASSH, Alison Richard Building, 7 Western Road, Cambridge CB3 9DT. The fee for students is £25, for others £50. To register, go to: https://webservices.admin.cam.ac.uk/cbk/vmzn/ For further information go to: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/26187.
Wednesday 1st June
Activists including Green Christians are currently on trial for repainting the office of the Department of Energy and Climate Change as “The Department of Extreme Climate Change”. Other activists around the world have been putting themselves at risk in their attempts to close down polluting fossil fuel plants. On a day when Germany produced 100% of its electricity from renewables, 3,500 activists closed down Vattenfall’s opencast lignite mine in Silesia. On May 3rd Britain’s largest opencast coal mine was blocked by hundreds of protesters, while similar actions were taking place in the Philippines, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Indonesia, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Turkey and the USA. Action against the burning of fossil fuels gathers momentum by the week. www.350.org
Thursday 2nd June
Supporters of fossil fuel generation have warned that turning away from fossil fuels could harm economies. Yet figures from the World Resources Institute show that from 2000 to 2014 more than 20 countries reduced their greenhouse gas emissions while growing their economies. In the UK over this period GHG emissions dropped from 591 to 471 million metric tons of energy-related CO2 emissions while GDP grew from $2.1 to $2.7 trillion equivalent.
Friday 3rd June
The Paris Agreement, reached with the consensus of 196 countries, decided that these countries would be held to account every 5 years to ensure that the world was on course to achieve its long-term aims. The CEO of the Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, representing 120 European investment companies with 13 trillion euros under management, said: “By setting a long-term goal for net zero emissions in the second half of the century, and putting in place a 5-year review cycle, this agreement provides an unequivocal signal for investors to escalate development of a low-carbon infrastructure.” Donald MacDonald, director of BTPS, the UK’s largest pension scheme, said: “Given the speed at which markets move, few will be waiting for regulators to do the job for them. As pension funds recognise their fiduciary duty to address climate risks in all parts of their portfolios, they will relocate investment away from high-carbon-related activity likely to destroy substantial shareholder value in a remarkably short time.”
Saturday 4th June
Both wind and solar energy are inherently unreliable and uncontrollable. Therefore a significant proportion of fossil fuel generators must be kept on standby. This carries a heavy cost, with much-needed investment in renewables being tied up in yesterday’s fossil fuel technology. The solution lies in the development of energy storage – especially efficient battery storage.
Sunday 5th June
Father God, you have inspired thinkers and scientists down the ages to search out the mysteries of your creation and to benefit humankind in so many fields. Send down your Holy Spirit in this time of greatest need, that he may reveal the path we must now follow if we are to fulfil your purposes on earth. Remove all prejudice, special pleading and vested interests from our society, that we may truly seek your will and find the courage to surmount all obstacles. This we pray in the Name of your dear Son, Jesus Christ.
Monday 6th June
The goal of battery storage is to smooth out the peaks and the troughs in demand. The troughs tend to be in the middle of the night. When it’s windy at night, the power generated will be absorbed, stored and released back at peak periods in the evening. Solar energy generated during the day can similarly be made available for use later on. Moixa, one of the finalists in the UK Ashden Awards 2016 is working on three methods to store energy for businesses and households.
Tuesday 7th June
One of the Moixa projects involves the use of electric vehicles (EVs) which are often unused for 95% of the time. Under this scheme power can be pushed and pulled from an EV battery when the vehicle is parked. Moixa’s Grid Share software platform is designed to power the intelligence to make this effective and flexible. The same “Vehicle-to-Grid” potential is also being explored by Enel in Europe and Nissan in Japan.
Wednesday 8th June
According to WWF’s Principles for a Sustainable Blue Economy, the ocean industries including coastal shipping and tourism provide $2.5 trillion each year to the world economy. Shipping traffic is likely to double in the next 20 years, with increases in fisheries, cruising, deep-sea mining, algae production, ocean cabling, renewables and, above all, human numbers. Ships using the Arctic Northern Sea route increased from 4% in 2010 to 7.1% in 2013. The cost of all this increase is immense. 90% of global fish stocks are over-exploited, 50% of the world’s corals have disappeared and oceanic “dead zones” cover an area the size of Italy. The challenge lies in the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ factor and the fact that ocean governance is, at best, weak, so that effective management does not stand a chance. Marine Protected Areas – hoped to cover 30% of the oceans by 2030 – offer ways to manage vulnerable habitats better. But the level of governance needed will only be possible with political will and commitment.
Thursday 9th June
This evening the annual awards ceremony of the Ashden Awards scheme takes place at the Royal Geographical Society in London. Awards up to £30,000 will be announced for 11 individual and organisations out of 22 finalists. Since 2001 the Ashden Awards have been uncovering and rewarding sustainable pioneers in the UK and developing who are leading the way to a thriving low-carbon future. Each award offers winners a package of support to help them expand, and an opportunity to share their expertise. There is also a programme for schools accessible at www.ashden.org/what-we-do
Friday 10th June
The Green Christian Retreat takes place from today until Sunday at Noddfa, Penmaenmawr, North Wales, under the title “Celebrating Body and Soul.” Through an exploration of prayer, contemplation and action, the weekend is an opportunity to pause and explore the relationship between our earthly bodies and how they relate to the rest of the earth. A booking form is available at www.greenchristian.org.uk/retreat
Saturday 11th June
According to the latest figures from the Marine Conservation Society, 8,000 plastic bottles were found on 340 UK beaches during a single weekend. That represents 99 bottles for every kilometre cleaned. Once in our seas, plastic bottles take at least 500 years to break down. Deposit Return Schemes operate successfully in Germany, Denmark and some states in Australia and the USA. The introduction of DRS on all single-use drinks containers – plastic, aluminium and class – could see a massive increase in recycling and a change in people’s behaviour.
Sunday 12th June
Loving Father, we sometimes seem overwhelmed by the scale and complication of the environmental problems we face. Help us to see how we may respond in our daily lives to the challenges that face us, and teach us to see that where we lead, others may follow.
Monday 13th June
New data regarding drinking supplies show that around 1.8 billion people may be drinking water contaminated by e-coli. Scarcity of water during droughts often leads to people resorting to unsafe drinking water. A drought exacerbated by El Nino has already led to an emergency in Ethiopia, where the government estimates that 10.2 million people will need humanitarian aid this year, at a cost of $1.4 billion. Oxfam comments: “Millions of people in Ethiopia, Haiti and Papua New Guinea are already feeling the effects of drought and crop failure. Aid agencies are already stretched responding to crises in Syria, South Sudan and Yemen. We cannot afford to allow other large-scale emergencies to develop elsewhere. If the world waits to respond to emerging crises in southern Africa and Latin America, we will not be able to cope.”
Tuesday 14th June
Norman Groocock of CIWEM refers to the conflicting requirements for (a) more reservoirs in upland areas to meet the needs of an increasing population and (b) the need for more water storage areas to prevent flooding downstream. The former requires full reservoirs at all times, the latter requires there to be a ‘hole’ in reservoirs to allow for excessive rainfall. He suggests a need to build a reservoir the size of Carsington every 3-4 years to capture excessive rainfall and to prepare for exceptionally dry years caused by global warming.
Wednesday 15th June
Hard, impermeable surfaces in built-up areas, such as roads, roofs, paving and car parks, divert rainfall into drainage networks which are easily overwhelmed by excessive rainfall. Every time we compact the soil to build new developments we reduce its capacity to absorb rainfall. Green infrastructure is the principle of using trees and sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS) to manage rainfall in urban areas. Trees can absorb rainfall before it reaches the ground, and evapotranspiration, by which water vapour is released through leaves, captures as much as 57% of average annual rainfall. Suspended, permeable paving allows tree roots to penetrate the soil and should be incorporated in all new developments. We should all be encouraged to use green roofs and greywater harvesting.
Thursday 16th June
Since last winter’s floods local authorities face an estimated landfill bill of £2.25 million for the 30,000 items of water-damaged goods having been dumped in landfills. Because river catchments cross local authority boundaries, dealing with flood risks requires co-operation between local authorities, the Environment Agency, utility companies, communities and private landowners. Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) includes features to reduce the amount of water sent to sewers and so can reduce household bills. Improving flood risk management enough to tackle costly weather events will be difficult without an adequate budget, but the consequences of inaction could be catastrophic for many communities.
Friday 17th June
A study from Imperial College published in the journal Thorax found that high exposure to air pollution as long ago as 1971 gave a 14% higher risk of dying in 2002-2009 than if they were living in a less polluted area. The highest risks were for respiratory diseases such as bronchitis, emphysema and pneumonia, but air pollution also carries a risk of heart diseases. Since 2001 air pollution from PM10 particles less than 10 microns in size has been monitored. They can travel deep into the lungs and even enter the bloodstream. They are mainly produced by transport and industry.
Saturday 18th June
Mexico City, home to over 9 million people, is designing a new constitution involving the whole population in its creation. Modern technology and new imaginative approaches to law-making are enabling this to happen. By the use of www.change.org and a specially-designed publishing platform, residents can contribute to the drafting process and petition to have their suggestions included in the final draft. This could re-invigorate civic participation in public affairs and forestal abuses of power. Will this precedent be followed elsewhere, or will it drop into the dustbin of history?
Sunday 19th June
Father, we thank you for a new awareness among many people of the need to care for and heal your world. Show us, we pray, the actions we can take to play our part in the healing process, to lead by example and to be prepared to give reasons for what we do.
Monday 20th June
The Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) is being secretly negotiated by 52 nations (including EU members) around the world. The aim, as with TTIP, is the privatisation of public services such as health and education, and to circumvent national regulations protecting jobs and the environment.. In Uruguay a coalition of farmers, environmentalists and trade unions has forced the government to withdraw from the negotiations – a big victory in the nation’s struggle for a more just and sustainable future. Uruguay has created a blueprint for other peoples to stop this and other trade-driven agreements such as TTIP. For more information contact Friends of the Earth Uruguay REDES.
Tuesday 21st June
In Honduras, four giant dams called Agua Zarca are planned for the Gualcarque river basin. It is Central America’s largest hydropower project, but opponents say it could choke their main source of irrigation and drinking water. Berta Caceres founded the National Council of Popular & Indigenous Organisations of Honduras to confront threats to indigenous communities from illegal logging and encroachments on their land rights. Speaking last year, she said: “We must undertake the struggle in all parts of the world, because we have no spare or replacement planet. We have only this one and we have to take action”
In March Berta Caceres was murdered in her own home. The campaign goes on. See tinyurl.com/honduras-killings
Wednesday 22nd June
In India the Jawaharlal Nehru National Solar Mission was formed to deliver 20,000 MW. Of solar power by 2022, with the remit of sourcing 10% of the equipment from Indian manufacturers. The WTO has now ruled this to be illegal, so the whole programme has to be put on hold pending an appeal. Yet in nearly half of all US states their renewable energy programmes include rules to buy local equipment.
Thursday 23rd June
Nottingham City Council has become the first UK authority to set up a public company (called ‘Robin Hood Energy’) to supply customers with affordable energy. Manchester campaigners are planning a similar initiative. Now in London the ‘Switched On London’ campaign aims to persuade the Greater London Authority and its local councils to adopt this new model. See www.switchedonLondon.org.uk
Friday 24th June
Morocco has begun construction of the world’s largest solar power station at Ouarzazate between the Atlas mountains and the Sahara Desert. The plant, due for completion in 2018, will initially supply 650,000 people with solar electricity from dawn to three hours after sunset. The government plans to generate 42% of Morocco’s energy from renewable sources – solar, wind and hydropower – by 2020, rising to 52% a decade later.
Saturday 25th June
An Eco Church project for the Diocese of Rochester is to be launched today at St. John’s Centre, Wrotham Road, Meopham DA13 0AA from 10 am to 1 pm. Under the title “Your Church Caring for God’s Earth” Dr. Ruth Valerio of A Rocha will lead practical and theological reflections. To book a place, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or ring her at 01634 560000.
Sunday 26th June
As tools come to be sharpened by the blacksmith,
So may we come, Lord.
As sharpened tools go back to their owner,
So may we go back to our everyday life,
To be used by you, dear Lord. ( A prayer from Africa)
Monday 27th June
Last year the NFU successfully lobbied the Government to allow the use of neonicotinoid pesticides on oilseed rape in a limited area, despite evidence of their effects on bees. This year the Government has rejected, on advice from the Expert Committee on Pesticides, an application by farmers to use these banned pesticides on oilseed rape. However, both the application and the evidence are being kept secret from MPs and the public, while the NFU says it will try again to lift the ban.
Tuesday 28th June
The Government has launched an “Eatwell Guide”, defining its advice on healthy eating and containing a visual representation of the foods that contribute to a healthy diet. The advice applies to healthy adults and children over 5. More details can be found at the NHS Choices website: http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/Healthyeating.aspx
Wednesday 29th June
Protein is fundamental to human health, but the way we currently produce and eat it is putting a heavy strain on land and sea resources. Forum for the Future has worked with dairy company Volac and many other organisations on a project called ‘Protein Challenge 2040′ to transform the protein system. They outlined six areas for innovation:
- Increasing the proportion of plant-based protein consumption with consumers.
- Scaling up a sustainable feed innovation to meet the demand for animal protein.
- Closing the protein nutrient loop – for example, by reducing waste rich in protein by finding new ways to feed it back into the production cycle.
- Developing indigenous plants as protein sources for local communities.
- Scaling up sustainable aquaculture for food and animal feed.
- Restoring soil health.
“We are calling for more stakeholders to bring their resources and expertise to focus, initially, on the first three areas. We want to change the conversation from ‘good’ and ‘bad’ protein sources towards a better balance of sustainable protein. We aim to catalyse action and investment in sustainable solutions.” Anyone wanting to be involved in the next stage should contact Simon Billing via the website www.forumforthefuture.org/project/protein-challenge-2040/overview
Thursday 30th June
Tomorrow Operation Noah’s AGM and Supporters’ Day takes place at St. Andrew’s, Short Street, Waterloo, London SE1 8TY from 10 to 4.30. after a brief AGM, there will be updates on the Paris Agreement, the Pilgrimage to Paris, post-Paris events and the Bright Now campaign on disinvestment, with plans for the future. Bring your own lunch.
Operation Noah is an ecumenical Christian charity, providing leadership, focus and inspiration in response to the growing threat of catastrophic climate change.
Forum for the Future
Ninety Nine (Global Justice Now)
Resurgence & Ecologist
The Environment (CIWEM)
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