Monday, May 17, 2010

Caring for God’s Creation (Part 5)

This is the fifth and concluding post in a series of posts looking at the spiritual aspects of caring for God’s marvelous creation

VI. Conclusion

To put environmental concerns into perspective, I have a few concluding comments:

1. Misinformation Abounds

First, the environmental movement is littered with misinformation because of junk science, fudged numbers, wrong conclusions, and hype. In addition, our knowledge of the complex ecosystem is imprecise and our understanding of these multi-faceted issues is incomplete. So we end up with ridiculous debates over which is better, paper or plastic, or Styrofoam or ceramic cups (each one has its advantages and disadvantages). The debate over global warming has caused some to overreact and others to deny it exists, deflecting attention to the real problems of pollution, contamination, and depletion of non-renewable natural resources.

Moreover, some potential solutions have been disastrous, such as using corn to produce ethanol, thus raising the cost of food and hurting the poor worldwide. Nevertheless, the problems are real: pollution is unhealthy and we must conserve our natural resources.

2. Problem Areas

Fortunately the United States is finally making progress in conservation and pollution control (although we have a long way to go), so the problem now is more in the emerging economies, which are growing tremendously. Countries such as China and India are adding coal-fired power plants, cars, and factories at a furious rate, all of which pollute. In Brazil, which is pretty much energy independent due to forward thinking, rain forests are being cut down, which affects all of us to some extent.

The development of more fuel-efficient cars should have been a priority 35 years ago with the oil embargos of the 1970s showing our vulnerability. Why didn’t we become a leader in such technologies back them? The oil and automotive industries have enormous power over Congress, so little was done for over 30 years, plus we like big gas-guzzlers. One result of not doing anything is huge unfavorable balances of trade as we import oil by the billions of barrels. Hybrid cars are too little too late, but they are better than nothing until improved technologies are developed and can be made affordable to the average consumer.

3. Remember God – It’s His Creation

Finally, when it comes to the environment, let’s keep in mind the spiritual aspects, remembering what God tells us in Psalm 50:10-12:

For every wild animal of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know all the birds of the air, and all that moves in the field is mine. “If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and all that is in it is mine.” NRSV

So let’s commit to respecting our God-given environment, to helping future generations, and to improving our quality of life by being environmentally friendly. It may inconvenience us somewhat, it may cost a little more, and it may take some getting used to. We may think that one person can’t make a difference. But if all of us are environmentally conscious, 300 million of us Americans can have a huge impact. So let’s all be environmentally friendly, not just for Mother Earth, but for the sake of Father God, creator of heaven and earth.

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