Thursday, 30 October 2008

So, what would you do with the $4 trillion that has been committed to rescue the global economy?

Would you provide safe water and sanitation to the 2.5 billion people in the world without it at a cost of only £37.5bn, around the amount (£37bn) given by UK government to RBS, HBOS and Lloyds TSB banks? That amount would hardly be noticed!

Would you feed the starving? As Jacques Diouf, head of the UN's food and agriculture organisation, said it would cost a mere $30bn a year to avert all future threats of conflicts over food. "How can we explain to people of good sense and good faith that it was not possible to find US$30bn a year to enable 862 million hungry people to enjoy the most fundamental of human rights: the right to food and thus the right to life?" How indeed...

Would you spend some on Ecosystems and biodiversity? A study on the costs and benefits of investing in the wealth of nature has provisionally found that most of the world's forests, mountains, rivers and seas could be protected for only about $45bn annually. A cheap investment surely?

Would you, if you are in the UK, invest in plans to generate 36% of all electricity from renewable sources by 2020 an amount roughly costed by the Treasury at $100bn, over 12 years?

If you are in the US would you spend $4.4tr, (yes I know it's all the money, but it is spread over 30, yes 30 years) to replace all the US's coal and oil-fired electricity generation by renewable electricity, reduce the world's carbon emissions by nearly 20% and provide hundreds of thousands of jobs?

How about protecting the world's most important ecosystems? It is estimated this would cost $1.3tr, but again spread over 30 years. For this sum, nearly 15% of land and 30% of the oceans would be protected from illegal logging, overfishing, pollution and would go most of the way to protecting the most endangered animals.

Or would you give it ALL to the financial systems that failed us???

Friday, 24 October 2008

A prophecy waiting in the wings?

In the desert regions of the world there is the potential to grow food and supply enough power for the entire world, impossible? Well actually no, because there are two projects already in progress showing just how that can be done.

Desertec, see here, concentrates sunlight, solar power, (CSP) via mirrors onto steam turbines to drive generators, as in a conventional power station, the bottom image shows how little area would be required to supply the world, the smaller squares show the corresponding areas for the EU and the Middle East and North Africa. The middle image shows a solar collector panel, this is not pie-in-the-sky technology as there are already similar plants in the US and Spain, see here and here.

As for growing food in the desert the same clean CSP technology would pump seawater into the greenhouses in the top image where it would desalinate in solar collectors, leaving the salt behind and so allowing the now clean water to be used in cultivation. Interestingly enough for the overnight storage of heat to enable electricity production when the sun is down, then large saline (salt) filled tanks are needed.

In the words of Michael Pawlyn, who worked on the Eden Project for seven years and is now part of the Sahara Forest team, (see here) "Both technologies work extremely well in hot, dry, desert locations. CSP produces a lot of waste heat and we'd be able to use that to evaporate more seawater from the greenhouse. CSP needs a supply of clean, de-mineralised water in order for the [electricity generating] turbines to function and to keep the mirrors at peak output. It just so happens the Seawater Greenhouse produces large quantities of this."

In the words of Isaiah C35 v1&2
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy...

That day certainly can't come too soon for me!

Never think that your daily life cannot make a difference, because;


"What do you do as a Christian"? an evangelist asked a fellow traveller in the train.

"I bake", said the man.

"Yes", said the evangelist, "that is your profession; but what do you do as a Christian"?

Refusing all openings to admit that, as a Christian, he taught in the Sunday School or preached at the street corner or distributed tracts, the man persisted in the sufficiency of the reply – that he baked.

He was right.

Such is the centrality of the Incarnation faith. Teaching, preaching, works of mercy are the periphery: essential, but periphery. The carpenter, the fisherman, the agriculturalist – or, if you will, the miner, the ironworker and the aeroplane craftsman – are God’s final revelation of His purpose in creation, in the Lord Jesus Christ of the carpenter’s shop at Nazareth, of the fishing fleet at Galilee, and of the home at Bethany. It is the truth of that which it is the Christian mission to declare till all labour is holy and every home His temple.

Yet, in the paradox, so to salt the daily round and the common task we must be separate. Unless in our ‘involvement’ we be separate, homes become adulterated, farm land becomes exploited, and aeroplanes mount guns: all of which is happening before our eyes.

George MacLeod, the Iona Community

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Well, would you believe it?

While the following share prices quoted are for UK shares, I think the facts would apply whatever country you are in!

If you had purchased £1,000 of Northern Rock shares one year ago it would now be worth £4.95. With HBOS, earlier this week your £1,000 would have been worth £16.50. £1,000 invested in XL Leisure would now be worth less than £5. However, if you bought £1,000 worth of canned beer one year ago, yup, that’s a lot of beer, drank it all, and today took the empty cans to an aluminium recycling plant, you would, at present day prices, get around £200. So based on the above statistics the best current investment advice is to drink heavily and recycle. OK so you would not have made a profit, given yourself a headache perhaps but you may not care so much about any loss.

Now what did He say about on this subject... oh yes... I remember... "keep on storing up treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal". (Matt 6:20)

Regarding the latter part of His comment, whatever did happen to all that money that has been ‘lost’, did it ever exist or is it still somewhere?

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Percy Schmeiser story...

Percy Schmeiser is a farmer of a 1,400 acre farm from Bruno, Saskatchewan Canada whose Canola fields became contaminated with Monsanto's Round-Up Ready Canola. Monsanto's position was that it didn't matter whether Schmeiser knew or not that his canola field was contaminated with the Roundup Ready gene, or whether or not he took advantage of the technology (he didn't); that he must pay Monsanto their Technology Fee of $15./an acre for each acre.

In 2001 lawyers warned a farming family in Indiana that the only way they could avoid being sued by the biotech company Monsanto was to sow their entire farm with the company's seeds. IN 1999 the Roushes planted just over a quarter of their fields with the company's herbicide-resistant soya. Though they recorded precisely what they planted where, and though an independent crop scientist has confirmed their account, Monsanto refused to accept that the Roushes did not deploy its crops more widely demanding punitive damages for the use of seeds they swear they never sowed. The Roushes said that they were, in effect, being sued for not buying the company's products. So the next year, like hundreds of other frightened farmers, they planted their fields only with Monsanto's GM seeds. The lesson is that once you've started using GM, you're stuck with it.

But unlike scores of similarly accused North American farmers who have reached out-of-court settlements with the bullying Monsanto, Schmeiser, who saves his seeds from previous harvests, fought back and Monsanto took him to court in the year 2000, outlining their request for patent infringement seeking damages totalling $400,000. This included a list of civil damages, including about $250,000 in legal fees, $105,000 in profits they feel Schmeiser made on the 1998 crop, $13,500 ($15 an acre) for technology fees and $25,000 in punitive damages. Schmeiser feels that Monsanto had asked for exorbitant amounts to serve as a warning to other producers. At that time Schmeiser said he has already spent $160,000 of his own savings for legal fees and another $40,000 of his own time, travel and compensation for labour he had to hire when he was away from the farm.

After a backwards and forwards battle across court hearings, and in an out of court settlement finalized on March 19, 2008, the now 77 year old Percy Schmeiser has settled his lawsuit with Monsanto. Monsanto has agreed to pay all the clean-up costs of the Roundup Ready canola that contaminated Schmeiser's fields. Also part of the agreement was that there was no gag-order on the settlement and that Monsanto could be sued again if further contamination occurred. Schmeiser believes this precedent setting agreement ensures that farmers will be entitled to reimbursement when their fields become contaminated with unwanted Roundup Ready canola or any other unwanted GMO plants.

In the words of Paul Goettlich: "The fact remains that Monsanto should be liable for contaminating Percy's fields and those of the rest of the world. Why not? They certainly meant to do so. The cost for this crime should be born directly by the business and board officers, as well as each and every share holder who should be made to pay to the full extent of their wealth. For without these stock owners Monsanto would probably not have had the required capital to produce the mess on Earth that we now witness before us".

See here for Percy Schmeiser's award and details.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

I wonder just how many hospital operations could have been carried out, just how many new schools have been built and just how many of those that are


Please play the above (short) clip, no one could make up the situations portrayed, but truth is often stranger than fiction.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

We have before us an economic system that has proved to have failed

It is/was (?) based on consumption with a total addiction on spending money raised upon credit, and the amassing of property and possessions. This is the world that the inhabitants of the West in general, have created. Now we have the governments of the ‘developed’ world rushing to prop up their failed capital craving banking systems. We have figures bandied about in buying their useless assets, (let’s be frank, that’s what they are, for ‘toxic debts’ read ‘useless assets’) that quite simply make my head swim, just how do you grasp the scale of $700 Billion, or the 300 Billion Euros France is seeking as a Europe rescue fund or the £50 Billion that some of the UK banks are asking for?

So where does the world go from here? Is it back to more of the same? Will the financial world drag itself out of the mess it has created only eventually to go back to the same situation again of encouraging poeple to borrow and spend when the interest rates drop in order to stimulate the economy and growth? Will again people go back to collecting possessions as a comfort blanket against the problems of the real world, with its starvation and disease in the third world and the disaster of Climate Chaos which faces us all?

Or will those caught up and out by the present crisis decide that they will cut up the credit cards, reduce their debts and realise that what actually matters in life is family and friends and that judging others by the fashion labels on the outside of their clothes is wrong. As John said of attitude of the latter in 12:43, “They loved the praise of others more than the praise of God”.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Save a life or two for the price of a Big Mac!

The children that will die today from malaria would fill all the seats in 7 jumbo jets, (sad to say, that is no misprint/typo on my part) which equates to one child's death every 30 seconds or, to put it another way, about the time it could take you to read this one post. The single most effective means of prevention is a mosquito net and yet each long lasting insecticidal net (LLIN)– the net of choice -costs only around £2.50 or $ 5 or 4 Euro, yup, as little as that! If you would like to know more, and perhaps join me in donating, then please click here.

There are many organisations involved and if you are involved with or have any influence over your government please click here

"Suffer the little children to come unto me" He said. But He said and meant this when they were still alive and in this world, and, for one child, their thirty seconds is now about up.