Friday, May 14, 2010

Caring for God’s Creation (Part 4)

This is the fourth in a series of posts examining the spiritual aspects of caring for God’s marvelous creation.

V. Why We Should Be Green

Now that we’ve examined the spiritual perspectives concerning the environment in the prior three posts, let’s briefly take a look at some practical aspects.

1. Disease

First, it appears that there is an environmental component to a good many diseases and conditions, with man-made pollutants suspected. Cancer is an obvious one, and we clearly see that with “cancer clusters” on Long Island, and the effects of asbestos and smoking. Scientists are seeing an environmental component to Parkinson’s Disease, suspecting pesticides as a possible cause for those with a predisposition to the disease. Other conditions such as asthma and autism have grown significantly in recent years, leading scientists to suspect environmental factors. It is in our best interest to keep our environment and food as clean as possible for our own health and well-being, and that of our children. After all, who wants to breathe in or ingest that nasty stuff?

2. Depletion of Resources

Not only is pollution of air, water, the land, and interior spaces an important part of ecology, but there is also the depletion of natural resources. There’s a finite amount of non-renewable resources, and once they’re gone, that’s it. I’ve been in places where the topsoil has been completely depleted, and nothing but scrub grass grows there – it’s not a pretty sight. Half the topsoil in our big farming states is gone, and the water in the large aquifer under that land is not being replenished as fast as it is being used. Of course there are also concerns about depletion of oil, gas, coal, minerals, rain forests, and the ozone layer.

3. Garbage

Another aspect is garbage – we generate too much of it. Garbage has been dumped in the ocean, and now there are several large floating plastic debris fields in the ocean. I was made aware of how wasteful we Americans are when we lived in Germany when I was in the army. We lived in a two family house, and each family had its own garbage can. These cans probably had about half the capacity of those large green plastic garbage cans we now have. Part way through the week, our can was already full, so I’d have to bring bags of our garbage to the army base and throw it in the dumpster. Much of our waste is packaging, which you and I can’t do much about, but we can pressure manufacturers to use less packaging materials.

V. Recent Gulf Oil Disaster

What affect on these issues will the recent disaster in the Gulf of Mexico have? I’m hoping it will make people aware that we must reduce significantly our dependence on petroleum. Importing oil costs our country dearly in terms of unfavorable balances of trade and vulnerability to disruptions in supply (either intentional or unintentional). Using domestic sources causes risks of environmental disasters such as we are experiencing in the Gulf.

The government must provide tax incentives that will motivate people to buy hybrids and other fuel-efficient vehicles until the first generation of alternative-fuel vehicles is readily available at reasonable prices. Then the government should provide incentives for purchasing those vehicles, and perhaps help finance the infrastructure needed to support such vehicles.

The government must provide disincentives for purchasing inefficient vehicles such as implementing a gas-guzzler annual excise tax, and perhaps a national sales tax on such vehicles. I would love to see large SUVs taxed out of existence.

I’m hoping this disaster in the Gulf won’t discourage off-shore drilling because it is an important domestic source of oil until alternative-fuel vehicles are readily available at a reasonable price. However, I hope this disaster will give the drilling companies the incentive to do better when it comes to safety.

By the way, I have put my money where my mouth is. One of our cars is a hybrid and the other is a 1.8 liter small economy car that gets over 30 mpg. We have purchased energy efficient appliances and we keep our thermostats set low in the winter. Most of our light bulbs are compact fluorescent.

Please pray for the people of Louisiana, who have already taken several hits economically in the past few years. Pray that this leaking oil can be contained soon so that no more gushes out of that well.

More on this topic in the concluding post.

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