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“Lord,I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, O Lord. Renew them in our day, in our time make them known. In wrath, remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3.2)
“God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it Therefore strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees! Make level paths for your feet, so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.” (Hebrews 12.10-13)
“The work of praying is prerequisite to all other work in the kingdom of God, for the simple reason that it is by prayer that we couple the powers of heaven to our own helplessness.” (Ole Hallesby)
Wednesday 24th August
A report from the Committee on Climate Change says that large-scale shale gas extraction would be incompatible with the UK’s climate targets unless tests were met to minimise its impacts. The main test requires strict regulation to limit harmful emissions and tackle methane leaks. Current regulations fall short of these minimum standards. Meanwhile, planning permission has been granted to Third Energy for shale gas extraction near Kirby Misperton in North Yorkshire. Objectors have applied for a judicial review of the decision, citing climate change concerns.
Thursday 25th August
A new book by Australian Tim Flannery called “Atmosphere of Hope: Solutions to the Climate Crisis” sets out various schemes for drawing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and storing it safely. One such scheme is to establish seaweed farms, which would take large quantities of CO2 out of seawater, so reducing ocean acidification and, incidentally, providing biogas for energy generation. The problem is the scale. It would require seaweed farms covering 9% of our oceans to solve the problem of climate change. Many of the “solutions” won’t work or have dangerous side-effects that make them worse than useless. The best solutions always come down to producing less CO2 in the first place and finding substitutes for fossil fuels.
Friday 26th August
From today until the 29th the Greenbelt Festival is being held at the Boughton Estate, Kettering NN14 3AG. The line-up of celebrities attending includes Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, Satish Kumar, long-time editor of Resurgence magazine, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, and Terry Waite.
Green Christian will be there throughout the Festival. For more details, go to: www.greenchristian.org.uk
Saturday 27th August
The Leonard di Caprio Foundation, which supports environmental organisations, has recently raised $45 million at a meeting in St. Tropez. The Foundation has contributed to the moratorium on new palm oil plantation in Indonesia, the first increase in tiger numbers in Nepal for over 100 years and the restoration of degraded coastline in Somalia. The Hollywood film star said: “ While we are the first generation with the technology, the scientific knowledge and the global will to build a truly sustainable economic future, we are the last generation that has a chance to stop climate change before it is too late. The destruction of our planet continues at a pace we can no longer afford to ignore. I’m proud to support these organisations that are working to solve humanity’s greatest challenge.”
Sunday 28th August
Save us, dear Father, from over-reliance on human ingenuity and quick fixes as we strive to repair the damage we have wrought to your world. Acknowledging our reasoning powers as your great gift to us, inspire us to put our trust in you alone, who gave your Son for us and all your creation.
Monday 29th August
The world’s first solar-powered internet drone has been successfully tested by Facebook in a 96-minute low-level flight over Arizona. The aim is to open internet opportunities to people in unconnected regions of the world. The unmanned Aquila craft will fly at a night-time altitude of 60,000 feet while, during winter, its solar panels will collect enough energy to keep the batteries charged overnight. There are many technical challenges ahead, but owner Mark Zuckerberg hopes the system can be brought into service ‘in the near future’.
Tuesday 30th August
Although Google’s data centres are powered by renewables, they still consume vast amounts of energy during the cooling process. Now, using DeepMind technology, Google has developed artificial intelligence to predict the temperature and pressure outputs 60 minutes in advance of the need to establish lowered output and energy consumption. The system will deliver cuts to energy consumption and also reduce the ratio of total building energy use to IT energy use (known as ‘Power Usage Effectiveness).
Wednesday 31st August
Creation Time takes place annually across the world from the 1st September to the feast of St Francis on the 4th October. The period is dedicated to prayer for the protection of Creation and the promotion of sustainable lifestyles that reverse our contribution to climate change. Churches Together in Britain and Ireland (CTBI) has compiled a programme to encourage churches to observe Creation Time. This year, on the theme of ‘Followers of Jesus, Caring for Creation’, the Scottish churches have compiled a programme of resources for each week of the period. Other resources can be found on the World Council of Churches website. www.ecocongregationscotland.org/materials/creation-time
Thursday 1st September
This year’s worldwide Season of Creation continues until October 4th. For details go to: http://seasonofcreation.org/ There are videos from Pope Francis, Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew and Archbishop Tutu. There are interfaith resources and a map for us to add an event. Materials for each week, based on St’ Luke’s Gospel can be found at: http://www.ecocongregationscotland.org/materials/creation-time/
Friday 2nd September
The design for new nuclear plants at Hinkley Point known as the European Pressurised Reactor is nowhere in actual operation. Finland’s Olkiluoto plant is 9 years late and 3 times over budget. France’s Flamanville project is faring little better. The Government has postponed a decision on whether to go ahead with the Hinkley Point plants. There can be no better time to weigh up the alternatives – many of them more efficient and less risky
Saturday 3rd September
Britain has the largest plutonium stockpile in the world and we still do not know how to store it safely. A project backed by the US Energy Department is for a “waste-annihilating molten salt reactor” which uses up lethal plutonium residues. This design dissolves nuclear fuel in molten salts rather than using dry uranium pellets. Meltdown is impossible. If the reactor gets too hot, a freeze plug melts and the salts drain off. Canada has already licensed this design. Terrestrial Energy of Toronto claims that it can be made in 3-4 years and would produce power at $40-50 per MWh – a third of the cost of power from the prosed Hinkley Point reactors.
Sunday 4th September
Dear Father, you have given us matchless gifts in the realm of science and technology. Help us to understand that you alone are the source of all truth and understanding. Let us never be blinded by the lure of the market-place or tempted to put at risk the lives and health of our fellow-humans. Watch over our motives, dear Father, that we may always give prime place to the furtherance of your kingdom. This we ask in the Name of your Son, who died that we might live.
Monday 5th September
Offshore wind technology has advanced in recent years and Britain is the world leader. The Hornsea Two wind farm, recently granted planning permission despite concerns over wildlife, will consist of 300 turbines 55 miles offshore, generating up to 1.8 gigawatts – enough to power 1,6 million homes. Hornsea One, consisting of 174 turbines now under construction, will be the world’s biggest wind farm when completed in 2020. Greg Clark, the Business and Energy Secretary, said: “We’re determined to be one of the leading destinations for investment in renewable energy, which means jobs and economic right across the country.”
Tuesday 6th September
The RSPB has commented on the proposed Hornsea Two wind farm: “This wind farm, in combination with other wind farms in the North Sea, poses an unacceptable level of threat to gannets and kittiwakes as well as potential threats to guillemots, razorbills and puffins.” However, Greg Clark concluded that the project would not have “adverse effects on the integrity” of the protected wildlife areas after adjustments were made to the size and number of the turbines. The RSPB is considering a legal challenge.
Wednesday 7th September
Both wind and solar power are naturally intermittent and need back-up over periods when they cannot provide the power we need. The US Energy Department is funding 75 projects for electricity storage, using various types of batteries, storage in molten glass or advanced flywheels. These are all methods of storing excess power produced from solar energy during the day and using it for consumption during the evening peak demand.
Thursday 8th September
Virtual power plants are electricity generators designed to provide back-up power when demand is high, but spend much of the time lying idle. New technology has enabled much of this spare capacity to be fed into the National Grid, so earning income for the generator’s owners. For example, Thanet Earth in Kent has the biggest greenhouse in the UK, covering nearly 80 football pitches and powered by two gas-fired combined heat and power generators which provide 5.4 MW of electricity. Just under half this capacity lies idle at any one time. Now it is made available to the grid at times of peak demand as a substitute for dirty and expensive auxiliary power plants. Universities and hospitals throughout the UK are taking up this opportunity.
Friday 9th September
A new 2.2 MW facility under construction in Rufford, Nottingham, will use agricultural feedstock from nearby farms to fuel a combined heat and power plant. Surplus electricity will be fed into the grid, while16,000 tonnes a year of recycled digestate will be used as compost on local farms. The head of the Green Investment Bank commented: “Anaerobic digestion is widely recognised as one of the most effective ways of processing organic waste. AD facilities have an important role to play in the development of a circular economy.”
Saturday 10th September
Horizon 20 is an EU-funded scheme which enables UK companies to innovate and collaborate internationally on energy projects. Notable UK projects backed by the scheme include Aquamarine Energy’s plan to develop wave energy converters and Surrey University’s plan for “Smart Cities Research”. Now the Treasury and Department for Business and Energy have announced that payments under the scheme will be underwritten by the Treasury up to and beyond the UK departure from the EU. Innovation is essential for securing Britain’s energy security, so this announcement has been widely welcomed.
Sunday 11th September
Almighty God and Father, we pray that this year will see good harvests throughout the world, but especially in places that are prone to extreme weather conditions of flooding, droughts and heatwaves. Please help all the farmers who struggle to grow crops and raise livestock in a world of climate instability, and grant them success in their labours.
Monday 12th September
The Treasury has guaranteed until 2020 the present level of farming subsidies under the CAP, including any agri-environmental schemes agreed before the coming Autumn Statement. Arrangements after 2020 will be subject to negotiations. These will need to recognise a top priority for food production in this country while safeguarding the biodiversity of the countryside. Andrea Leadsom, the Environment Secretary, said: “I’m delighted we can provide this crucial certainty and continuity to our rural communities while we develop a new approach to supporting agriculture and protecting our precious countryside.”
Tuesday 13th September
A landmark map produced for CPRE by consultants LUC shows the areas of England most blighted by light pollution as well as areas, such as parts of Devon, Cumbria, Northumberland and Herefordshire where the skies are still dark… Only 22% of England is untouched by light pollution, with major roads a significant source of the problem. The Astronomer Royal said: “These maps will encourage remedial efforts that will not only save energy, but also enable more of us to enjoy a dark sky just as did earlier generations.”
Wednesday 14th September
A report from the government-backed Centre for Ecology and Hydrology has analysed the effects on bee populations of neonic-treated oilseed rape over 17 years. Bee decline was found to be “three times stronger” in species which rely on neonic-treated crops for food, compared with bee species that feed from a wider range of plants. For some vulnerable species, the use of neonics on crops was responsible for at least 20% of local population extinctions. FoE comments: “The study adds a new peak to the existing mountain of independent evidence showing the risk to our bees of using neonicotinoid chemicals.”
Thursday 15th September
A report from WWF highlights the benefits to businesses that switch their sourcing of timber to sustainably-managed forests, namely:
Advantages from regulations;
- Easier raising of finance;
- Added brand value;
- A more engaged workforce.
Some key facts:
- Brazil has only 16 years of timber forests remaining, south Africa 7 years, Colombia 12 years, Mexico 11 years, Thailand 9 years and Pakistan 10 years
- Primary forests are disappearing at an alarming rate. Since 1990 Nigeria has lost 99% of them and Vietnam 80% – 2 million hectares in these countries alone.
- In the UK by 2050 less than 22% of timber used will be of indigenous stock.
- All the UK foresters interviewed expressed grave concern for the future supply of domestic softwood. “Committing to sustainable timber sourcing isn’t just an added bonus, but something that every timber-dependent business must invest in if they want a healthy and resilient business to survive.”
Friday 16th September
Nitrogen dioxide is a toxic gas produced mainly by diesel vehicles and is linked to respiratory and heart diseases. During a single week in January parts of London breached the legal limit for NO2 emissions over a whole year’s allowance. Now the City Corporation has banned the purchase of diesel vehicles for its fleet and is exploring the benefits of hybrid vehicles. In addition, it has introduced a city-wide 20 mph limit, a cutback on engine idling and a City Air” app offering low-pollution travel routes around the capital. The new Mayor of London has vowed to introduce Clean Bus corridors and a diesel vehicle scrapping scheme.
Saturday 17th September
Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS), according to the Committee on Climate Change, is likely to be “a crucial part of the least-cost path to decarbonisation in the UK and globally.” The IPCC estimates that it would cost 140% more to meet the goals agreed at Paris without CCS technology, given what we know about the alternatives. Canada’s SaskPower plant extracts 90% of its CO2 emissions, though it loses 18% of its power output in the process.. The industrial clusters of Teesside and Humberside are linked by a network of pipes to depleted and well-mapped oil and gas fields in the North Sea. The Paris agreements imply a tightening regime of higher carbon penalties over the next 50 years, ending in net zero CO2 emissions. According to Professor Gibbins of Edinburgh University “Storage will then be much more valuable than the fossil fuels themselves. If you are an energy-intensive industry and you don’t have CCS technology, you are s – – – – d.”
Sunday 18th September
Father, we thank you for this beautiful world, for the food you provide and for the abundance of its store. Help us to look after all of nature, to watch it and to learn from it. Weed out from our lives all that hinders peace, so that your kingdom may be spread through us and that we may become channels of your peace.
Monday 19th September
This year Population Matters celebrates its 25th anniversary. Jonathon Porritt, a patron, writes: “The future of humankind depends on one simple insight: that there can be no just and truly sustainable world unless we urgently prioritise investment in family planning, and keep on doing so until our population stabilises and then starts to decline.” Its retiring president, Roger Martin, writes:”With some 2 billion more people than 25 years ago, it is even more obvious that the more we are, the more we degrade our life-support system, and the smaller each person’s share of our dwindling natural resources. Getting these simple facts across to people, and killing off the ‘mad taboo’ on recognising them, is more important than ever.”
Tuesday 20th September
This year also marks the 90th birthday of Sir David Attenborough. A patron of Population Matters, he writes: “The growth in human numbers is frightening. I’ve seen wildlife under mounting human pressure all over the world, and it’s not just from human economy or technology. Behind every threat is the frightening explosion in human numbers. I’ve never seen a problem that wouldn’t be easier to solve with fewer people – or harder, and ultimately impossible, with more.”
Wednesday 21st September
Today is International Day of Peace. From 5 to 9 pm at St. John’s Church, Waterloo Road, London SE1 8TY, a ‘Faith for the Climate Symposium’ takes place for all concerned about the question “How should people of faith be praying, protecting and campaigning for the earth, which is given us in sacred trust?” Speakers include Bishop Nick Holtam, Sir David King, George Marshall of COIN and co-chairs Rabbi Natan Levy, Maiya Rahman of Islamic Relief and Canon Goddard of Operation Noah. The £5 entry includes supper. See http://www.stjohnswaterloo.org/climatechange .
Thursday 22nd September
Paul Ehrlich, a patron of Population Matters, writes about global water scarcity: “Overdrafts on aquifers are one reason why some geologist colleagues are convinced that water shortages will bring the human population explosion to a halt. There are substitutes for oil. There is no substitute for water.” While world population has tripled over the past century, water consumption has increased six-fold. 70% of all water is used for agriculture, yet much of this evaporates or seeps away due to poor quality irrigation. The US wastes 7 billion gallons of water every day and the UK does scarcely better. Problems of pollution, especially in cities, affect the quality of accessible water. Moreover, much of the water we consume comes from underground aquifers which are being drained much more quickly than they are being replenished by rainfall.
Friday 23rd September
There are many ways to save water. Technology can make industries less water-dependent. We can invest in desalination installations, fix leaking pipes, adopt drip irrigation techniques, develop large-scale transfer methods to replenish dry areas, reduce waste generation and adopt more sustainable lifestyles. But reducing water usage per head is only one side of the story. The total number of people using water is equally important. Only when population growth reduces or reverses will humankind be able to enjoy reliable water supplies in the long term.
Saturday 24th September
A report from the Guttmacher Institute on “The Unmet Need for Contraception in Developing Countries” examines women’s reasons for not using family planning. Based in research in 52 countries, it was found that the commonest reasons for not using a method were concern about side-effects and health risks (26%) and the belief that they have sex too infrequently to warrant their use (34%). The study concludes: “ It is essential that family planning providers offer women and couples contraceptive counselling that includes accurate information about potential side-effects and how to address them. Providers should ensure that all women can choose from a wide range of contraceptive options so as to select a method that suits their needs”
Sunday 25th September
Father, we pray, each one of us, for an honest appraisal of our own lifestyle, so that we may admit, to ourselves and to you, all that we are contributing, directly and indirectly, to the pollution of your world. Help us to bear witness, by our example, to our resolve to amend our lives, so that others may take heart and act accordingly.
Monday 26th September
Japan and New Zealand have confirmed that they will ratify the Paris Agreement. The EU Parliament and Council of Ministers are also expected to approve ratification, leading to hopes that the Agreement will come into force later this year. Some reports suggest that Britain’s participation in the Agreement is in doubt following the vote to leave the EU. UN climate chief Christina Figueres said that Brexit would require a ‘recalibration’, but it was not clear what this might mean.
Tuesday 27th September
The Government has offered cash payments (taxpayers’ money) to households in areas where fracking takes place. According to a YouGov survey, only 1 in 3 people would support fracking even if offered up to £10,000 to allow it. 43% were strongly against fracking, or tended to be against it, while 25% were unsure. FoE notes that payments would be made only after shale exploration and would come from taxation on profits. “The more people learn about fracking and what it could mean for their health and the environment, the more opposed they could be. Although the Government has promised to listen to local people, it seems that politicians are still trying to push fracking on communities who don’t want it.”
Wednesday 28th September
A form of packaging polymer that is both recyclable and biodegradeable is being developed by Aquapak Polymers. The polyvinyl alcohol polymer bypasses the difficulty of separating film from rigid plastic and could replace multilayer packaging on a wide range of consumer products such as crisp packets, biscuit wrappers and meat packaging. The polymer degrades rapidly in anaerobic digesters and is non-toxic to marine life. If not required for recycling, it is dissolvable in water treatment processes and can be washed away safely with wastewater. A facility to produce the polymer will be opened in Birmingham next year.
Thursday 29th September
There are many ways we can avoid the truth about climate change, such as:
- It’s not my responsibility. It’s up to the Government/ the US/ China.
- I don’t see what I can do about it.
- I don’t think it’s that pressing.
- I can’t make a difference. The plane will go anyway, whether I’m on it or not.
- I won’t be here, so I’m not bothered.
- There’ll be time to sort this out once we’ve fixed the economy.
- Don’t point the finger at me. I care. I just don’t choose to show it by growing a beard and wearing sandals.
We instinctively recoil from arguments based on the Fear Factor. Yet ostrichitis is no substitute for realism.
Friday 30th September
One message of the book“In Time for Tomorrow?” is that we don’t have to appear smug or puritanical in talking to friends about climate change. Nor should we rely on “facts” – which only make sense when we are ready to hear them. Reflecting on the times when we were listened to, we may find that it was when we were connected to the other person’s feelings and experience, when we listened more than we spoke, when we weren’t desperate about the outcome and when we felt confident and positive about the necessary changes in lifestyle. See www.carbonconversations.org
“In Time for Tomorrow?” by Rosemary Randall and Andy Brown
Resurgence and Ecologist
Population Matters Magazine
Telegraph Business News
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