Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Using Natural Resources

There seems to be a feeling among some that using the earth’s natural resources is somehow a sin, or at least that’s how their rhetoric comes across. With the current debates surrounding oil usage and domestic drilling, let me try to put some of this in perspective.

Obviously the wise use of our God-given natural resources can’t be a sin, because we need them to survive. Even primitive man used natural resources, but he didn’t have much of a “footprint” because the earth’s population was small. Let’s take a look at the creation account in Genesis 1:26-30 to see what we can learn.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.

We can imply from this story that God gave human beings the earth’s natural resources to use, but of course not to abuse. We have “dominion” over them, but with that comes responsibility. So far we have abused the earth, squandered its natural resources, and polluted its water and air. These happened because we didn’t use the earth’s resources wisely. I believe we can and should use these resources, but have to do it in intelligent ways, in ways that preserve resources for future generations and don’t pollute.

So what about expanding offshore drilling and drilling in the Artic? I think its wrong if:

(1) It results in us not immediately addressing the underlying cause of our problems, which is too much dependence on oil. Such drilling is a short-term fix, not a long-term solution.

(2) It results in us seriously depleting whatever reserves we have in this country, so that future generations will still have to import oil. The goal of any energy policy must be to free us completely from dependence on foreign oil forever, and using domestic production only for those applications that must use oil, such as airplanes, home heating, and probably large trucks.

In my opinion, North American drilling is not wrong if:

(1) It does not deplete our domestic reserves, so that we have enough oil for future generations.

(2) It is understood to be merely the first step in a comprehensive energy policy that will quickly get us to oil independence.

(3) It is viewed as a short-term fix to take the pressure off prices, and not as a long-term solution. We must continue to work hard to develop alternative energy sources of all kinds and practice conservation.

The earth’s resources have been given to us by God, and we have squandered them terribly. That’s why we’re in the fix we’re in. We now have to apply ourselves to the task at hand, and be willing to make sacrifices for the common good.

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