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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)
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
“The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be reveaIed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself would be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.” (Romans 8.18-21)
“We believe that Creation is a gift of God, an expression of our Creator’s goodness.
We believe that, as humans, we are part of the creation and that we share in a special way in the creative work of God.
We believe that the resources of our land and waters and air are precious gifts from our Creator, to be used and looked after with loving care.
We believe that there is a rhythm to God’s creation like a drum beat; when we lose heart, or the drum is damaged, the music is out of tune.”
(Pacific Women’s Consultation on Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation)
Saturday 1st October
A report from Christian Aid called “Act Now or Pay Later”, states that 8 billion people living in coastal cities are threatened by climate change. Indian cities such as Kolkata and Mumbai are the most exposed to coastal flooding, risking the safety and livelihoods of 14 million and 11.4 million people respectively. Miami comes 8th on the list of threatened cities and top of the list for financial losses from coastal flooding, with exposed assets worth $3.5 trillion. New York has $2.1 trillion of exposed assets and China’s Guangzhou $3.4 trillion.
Christian Aid’s Alison Doig said: “We are facing a head-on collision between the growth of coastal cities and climate change, which makes coastal flooding more likely. Evidence shows that from New Orleans to Dhaka, it is the poorest who are most vulnerable because they have the worst infrastructure and no social or financial safety nets to help them recover. This horrifying vision of the future can be avoided. We can speed up the global transition from dirty fossil fuels to the clean, renewable energy of the future. We can also do more to prepare for such occurrences. For every $1 spent on reducing the risk of disasters, we save around $7 later. Such investment is a no-brainer.”
Sunday 2nd October
Father, we have been bad stewards of the world you have given us. We confess and repent of the ways in which we have misused your creation. Forgive us for the way we have exploited your world for selfish ends. Teach us to treat all creation with care, compassion and dignity, and to lead others along the same path, for the sake of your dear Son, Jesus Christ.
Monday 3rd October
Figures from the former Department of Energy & Climate Change have shown that British people reduced their carbon emissions by 38% from 1990 to 2014. But this ignores the continuous rise in imports of energy-intensive goods, meaning that electrical goods imported from the Far East do not count in the calculation of UK emissions. If these were included, annual emissions would be 15.5 tonnes per person. The closing-down of much of our energy-intensive industry, leading to the import of more goods from abroad, makes our official statistics look good, but do nothing to help the planet. The level of individual carbon emissions needed to keep global temperature rise to 2 degrees C. is about 3 tonnes per head per annum. Hence the UK still needs to cut its emissions, including imported goods, by 80%.
Tuesday 4th October
According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, over 1 million people living in deprived communities in the UK are at risk of flooding. 40% of low-income households have no flood insurance. The effects of climate change always bear down hardest on low-incomer families. Despite the failure of the Government’s Green Deal, investment in energy efficiency is still the best way to combat the twin evils of fuel poverty and climate change.
Wednesday 5th October
80% of houses in Britain will still be with us in 2050, so the key to reducing domestic carbon emissions is through retrofitting houses with energy-efficient measures such as solid wall insulation, triple glazed windows, ventilation systems and solar panels. In Greater Manchester, the Carbon Co-op – a community benefit society – provides a package of home improvements which, during its first year, has led to an average saving on energy bills of nearly £900 a year. Gas usage is down by nearly a half and carbon emissions by over 60%. Few contractors however are familiar with whole house retrofits, and wider training is required if the model can be repeated elsewhere.
Thursday 6th October
The think tank Policy Exchange suggests that installing heat pumps in more than 80% of UK homes, as suggested by the Government, would be a “colossal waste of money”. It recommends instead a combination of energy efficiency measures, better gas boilers and using “greener gases” such as biomethane generated from agricultural waste.
Friday 7th October
The Conservative think tank Bright Blue proposes that sales of houses should be blocked if they fail to meet minimum energy efficiency standards. To enable householders to afford upgrades, there should be “Help to Improve” loans akin to the current “Help to Buy” schemes. Builders should be mandated to improve the home’s energy performance whenever renovations take place. Landlords are already required to upgrade their properties to at least Band E energy efficiency rating, in effect banning them from letting more than 330,000 properties from 2018 onwards, unless energy efficiency is installed.
Saturday 8th October
14 local authorities in Lancashire, including the County Council, have jointly set up the Cosy Homes in Lancashire scheme, which has assisted more than 7,0000 households with external wall insulation and efficient boilers, focussing on the oldest properties in the most deprived areas. The scheme has won an Ashden Award for Sustainable Homes and provides a useful model for other local authorities.
Sunday 9th October
Lord Jesus, you have called us to be your witnesses on earth. Help us to proclaim, by word and deed, the message of your love to all humankind, and to declare your lordship over creation and our responsibility as your stewards.
Monday 10th October
Storage of electricity generated from wind turbines and solar panels has always been a problem. In Nevada the Advanced Rail Energy Storage system uses surplus electricity to push cargo trains uphill on a 6-mile track. When extra power is needed, the train is allowed to roll back downhill while its motors turn generators producing electricity. The system can produce 12.5 MWh of energy – far more than most battery storage systems.
Tuesday 11th October A “State of Nature” report was published last month based on the findings of over 50 nature conservation and research bodies. Between 1970 and 2013. 56% of all species declined in numbers, while 53% declined between 2002 and 2013. Sir David Attenborough wrote in the foreword: “The natural world is in serious trouble and it needs our help as never before. We continue to lose the precious wildlife that enriches our lives and is essential to the health and well-being of all who live in Britain.” The report found that “agricultural change was the most significant driver of declines” as a result of switching from spring to autumn sowing, which reduces food and habitat for many species, intensification of grazing, increased use of pesticides and fertilisers, and loss of marginal habitats such as ponds and hedgerows. E.U. stewardship schemes carried out by some were beneficial, but remained on a small scale. “The hoped-for recovery of farmland wildlife has yet to be seen.”
Wednesday 12th October
Last year the UK population for the first time exceeded 65 million and is expected to grow by almost 10 million by 2040. Population growth means that more food is required from the same amount of land. Inevitably this means that more intensive farming methods are needed to keep up with the increase in demand. Trying to make farming less intensive without stabilising the population means that we have to import more food, which is often produced in even more damaging ways.. The State of Nature report mentioned urbanisation as a major cause of species loss, yet urbanisation will certainly increase as more people are born in cities or migrate there. It is baffling to know why such a well-researched report made no mention of population growth as a driver of species decline.
Thursday 13th October
Colin Tudge’s latest book “Six Steps Back to the Land” suggests a pathway towards what he calls “enlightened agriculture”. The first hurdle for new entrants to farming is to secure loans from friends and banks such as the Triodos Bank. Renting land is however a perfectly good option for aspiring food producers. Livestock farming and/or vegetable growing are good places to start. Arable farming may come later. The current economic climate favours intensive farming, but organisations such as Sustainable Food Trust are working on a project to ensure that producers using intensive methods are economically accountable for the damage they cause to natural capital, while sustainable producers need to benefit from the goods and services they provide.
Friday 14th October
Many Middle Eastern countries suffer from serious water shortages and water quality issues. The British Government’s Science & Innovation Network, in partnership with British Council Israel and research bodies, is working with Israeli and Palestinian scientists on ways of addressing these problems. Robin Grimes of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office said: “In the Middle East and many other regions there is great need for improved access and management of water. The UK is proud to be working with the best scientists and entrepreneurs in the region to improve access to water. The benefits of this work will echo far beyond the region.”
Saturday 16th October
According to Donella Meadows, joint author of “The Limits to Growth”, the first commandment of Economics is to Grow. National economies need to swell. People should want more, make more, earn more, spend more – for ever.
The first commandment of the Earth is Enough. Everything on Earth grows to its appropriate size and then stops. The planet does not get any bigger. Its creatures learn, mature, diversify and evolve, but always live within absolute limits.
We don’t choose which of these two commandments will ultimately prevail. We can choose which one we will permanently live under, and whether to make our economic laws consistent with planetary laws. Or we can find out what happens if we don’t.
Sunday 16th October
God our Father, teach us how to live more simply, that others may simply live. Help us to turn from our arrogant ways. Redeem us, redeem your world, heal its wounds and dry its tears, for the sake of your dear Son, who died for us all.
Monday 17th October
A new book called “Eden 2.0: Climate Change and the Search for a 21st Century Myth” by Alex Evans explores the search for a transformative “myth” that could unify the world in a clear idea of what is required to restore the earth and redeem humanity. For the author, that “myth” is Christianity, with its focus on “the everlasting covenant”, Jubilee, the Sabbath, redemption and restoration. We need, and quickly, a “myth” that will inspire us to take a radically new course – something as powerful as the campaign against slavery – to bring about the transition so urgently needed. He concludes with some policy prescriptions and a set of ten personal actions that could make a big difference, including activism, lifestyle changes, discussions with family and friends, and a special effort to reach those not yet moved to address world issues from a perspective of faith.
Tuesday 18th October
A report from the NHS Sustainability campaign finds that a range of initiatives from energy efficiency and waste management to the uptake of low-carbon vehicles has resulted in savings of £5.5 million over a 12-18 month period, with a reported reduction in CO2 emissions of 35,000 tonnes. Real savings are likely to be far higher since not all hospitals reported their results. Northumbria NHS Foundation Trust saved up to £20,000 through the adoption of electric vehicles. Derbyshire Community NHS Trust reported savings of more than £218,000 a year thanks to energy efficiency initiatives used for front-line patient services. The manager of the campaign said: “The huge financial challenge the NHS is currently facing requires new forms of thought, leadership and innovation. This is clear evidence that the Government should and must invest in a low-carbon NHS fit for the future.”
Wednesday 19th October
In spring 2012 Britain was saved from a looming drought by unprecedented spring rainfall. A report from WaterUK models the possible effects of climate change, population growth, environmental protection measures and trends in water use over the next 50 years. It concludes that we face the prospect of longer, more frequent and more acute droughts than previously thought. It recommends, firstly, promoting more efficient water use in homes and businesses through improved building standards, smart metering and more ambitious reductions in leakages from water mains, plus, secondly, moving water from one region to another through existing waterways and new pipelines, building new reservoirs, treating more water for re-use and building desalination plants to make use of sea water. The cost of inaction could reach £1.3 billion a day during severe droughts, while the cost of making the water supply more resilient could amount to about £4 per annum per household.
Thursday 20th October
WWF, commenting on this report, points out that the system of licences for water abstraction is out-of-date, unsustainable and not fit for purpose. “Only 1 in 5 licences offer anything by way of environmental protection. Some licences even allow abstraction of water that, in future, may not be there. The licensing regime needs reform, and DEFRA must bring forward its long-awaited plans for a new Water Bill.
Friday 21st October
Most people in Indonesia, as in other parts of the world, rely on wells or springs for their water supply, but 15,000 Indonesian children under 5 die annually from waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea. Nazura Water Filters enables low-income households to purify their well or tap water without the need to boil it by burning wood or kerosene. This reduces disease, lowers household costs and reduces CO2 emissions. The company, a winner of an Ashden Award, has sold 53,000 filters and reached 200,000 people since 2009.
Saturday 22nd October
The Breakthrough Energy Coalition was formed in Paris last year when 28 high-profile investors came together to find a substitute for oil-based plastics by turning biomass into cellulosic sugars for use instead of oil-based polymers. A process called Plantrose, financed by Bill Gates and pioneered by Renmatix, uses high-pressure, high-temperature water to convert biomass into a usable cellulosic sugar state which, in turn, can be made into plastic-like materials for products ranging from drinking cups to cell phone parts to industrial adhesives . The French energy firm Total has agreed to produce 1 million tons of cellulosic sugar a year in its own facilities.
Sunday 23rd October
Father God, our newspapers and television programmes are full of the devastation caused by selfish political and economic agendas. We pray earnestly for a change of heart among the nations, their leaders and the leaders of business and industry. We pray for a massive diversion of human resources towards the relief of human suffering and the restoration of your world.
Monday 24th October
The Government has decided to finalise the £18 billion investment to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point to a French design of unproven capability, which has encountered serious problems elsewhere in Europe. Another nuclear power station – to a different Chinese design – is to be built at Bradwell in Essex. Hinkley Point is to be financed by a mix of French and Chinese investment, leaving the British consumer with eye-watering energy bills. The ever-accumulating stockpile of nuclear waste at Sellafield is to be left to future generations to deal with. They have no votes.
Tuesday 25th October
The stockpile of plutonium held at Sellafield now exceeds those of Russia and the USA combined and each year a further 4 tonnes is added. A 2007 report of the Royal Society set out four immediate priorities for defusing the plutonium time-bomb:
- Upgrading security
- Halting further growth of the stockpile
- Blending military plutonium with civilian stocks
- Starting a project to turn the powder into mixed-oxide fuel (MOX)
Only the first has been implemented. Since 2007 the stockpile has grown by a further 40 tonnes and the planned MOX plant has been shut down due to the availability of cheap uranium fuel. The cost of storing what the Royal Society report calls “one of the most radiotoxic materials known” is now over £100 million a year. What chance does Britain have of persuading other nations to forego manufacture of plutonium?
Wednesday 26th October
A report from the Committee on Climate Change has found that Scotland’s greenhouse gas emissions – including international aviation and shipping – fell by 8.6% in 2014, due to its enthusiastic roll-out of renewable energy coupled with excellent progress on community energy schemes and a well-developed energy efficiency policy. The CCC also praised Scottish efforts to cut food waste and introduce a nationwide circular economy. However, there has been slower progress on renewable heat, cleaner transport and changes to agriculture and land use. With its updated Climate Change Plan due out this autumn, the Scottish government needs to include clear and measurable objectives to ensure progress in these problem areas.
Thursday 27th October
In 2015 the Nottingham City Council set up Robin Hood Energy, a not-for-profit company which uses energy from an incinerator, solar panels and waste food plants. Its mission is to provide low-cost energy to all households. There are no shareholders and no directors’ bonuses. It is Britain’s first local authority-owned energy company and provides a useful model for other local authorities. www.robinhoodenergy.co.uk
Friday 28th October
Aviation accounts for 2% of the world’s carbon emissions, but if nothing is done to reduce them, its emissions are set to treble by 2050. In 2010 the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) set an “aspirational goal of carbon-neutral growth from 2020 levels”, but to achieve this the industry needs to address a huge emissions gap of 7.8 billion tonnes of carbon pollution. This month a carbon-offsetting scheme for international aviation is expected to be agreed, whereby each airline is given the flexibility to either reduce its emissions or to purchase credits from the world’s carbon markets. Meanwhile Virgin Atlantic has announced an intention to use waste gases to power its aircraft. A WWF report finds that there is a sufficient supply of high-quality carbon offsets and sustainable alternative fuels to meet the ICAO’s goal of “carbon-neutral growth from 2020 onwards.”
Saturday 29th October
Good Money Week begins tomorrow. Good stewardship of money is a key element of the Christian message. Both the slave trade and, more recently, apartheid ended only when Christians began to understand that it was their money that was propping up the system. Today, the fossil fuel industry is supported by investors who would be horrified if they understood the destructive results of burning fossil fuels. Good Money Week is an opportunity to take stock of investment policies and to spread awareness of our responsibilities in this area. http://goodmoneyweek.com/churches
Sunday 30th October
Lord, teach us to value our possessions in the right way. Make us willing to use them freely for the good of others and to share them generously without grudging. May our enjoyment of possessions be wholesome and right, and may we hold lightly all that we own. For the sake of Jesus Christ, who became poor that we might be eternally rich.
Monday 31st October
One of the last areas of total wilderness in the Amazon is the Tapajos River Basin, which supports almost 600 species of birds, 400 species of fish and is home to the Munduruku people, who depend on this free-flowing river for food and transport.. The whole area is now threatened by a series of mega-dams – 43 in all – which would flood large swathes of the basin and drive deforestation, as has already happened with the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River. Greenpeace has launched a worldwide campaign to avert this disaster. A study commissioned by the Brazilian government has shown that climate change can cause dramatic reductions in river flows, meaning that new dams are unlikely to achieve the energy output for which they are designed. Moreover, where flooded vegetation and soil decays, the resulting methane emissions are a potent driver of climate change. Greenpeace research has shown that a mix of solar, wind and biomass can fulfil Brazil’s energy needs, so these dams are not necessary.
Clean Slate (CAT)
Resurgence & Ecologist
The Environment (CIWEM)
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