If anyone were to analyze my over 700 blog posts to date, they would realize that while I have written about environmental issues, it only represents a fraction of what I do write about. The reason is simple – there are many other issues that interest me more and are as, if not more, pressing – imho.
But like anyone else with a social conscience, the environment and the elephant in the room, climate change, cannot escape my radar and I know ignorance is no excuse for not doing anything, especially if what my environment expert friend believes is true – the environment is humanity’s biggest issue that needs facing and climate change its biggest threat. It was with these thoughts in mind we met up earlier in the week over coffee to talk about these matters, fully aware that there are many other issues, and even on the issue of how best to tackle climate change, where we may disagree. But before that debate begins, we must establish the facts.
I have to begin by stating that my views on the environment, like any other subject, are also informed by my theology. Tantalizingly perhaps, the Bible does not answer the question posed in the title and if I were to be provocative it would indicate that humanity’s greatest threat is sin and rebellion against God and the greatest calling of Christians is to bring humanity back to God. Yet there is still plenty that would lead me to conclude that if a Christian were to take no interest in environmental matters then his/her theology is deficient. Right at the outset of the Bible we read: “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth… And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” Genesis 1:26-28. It is regrettable that many Christians, especially those in my more conservative leaning constituency, should be so indifferent concerning these matters. Part of the reason for meeting my environmental friend was to clarify the facts so I can put the message out to such folk.
In the time we spent together, I learned a good deal and while I was aware of many of the points raised it was good to be presented with hard evidence, surely the pre-requisite to intelligent debate. I was presented with the consensus belief of most scientists that global warming, brought about primarily by the emission of greenhouse gases, was happening and if not checked would result in environmental catastrophe in the not too distant future, e.g. rising sea levels, leading to flooding, drought in the more impoverished parts of the worlds, adding to the already significant refugee crisis, and an increase in public health issues. I was presented with questions like what can replace coal and gas, which is economically viable, and how to reduce CH4, CO2 emissions as a result of organic, particularly animal, waste? It was all enlightening but then so what?
The challenge that faces us (and it is something that should concern us all), which many before me have recognized, is that if all these things are true, unless we reduce greenhouse gas emissions and take better care of our environment we are laying up trouble that the next generation will be hard pressed to deal with if we don’t do something now. I confess that of the many things I could do, I fail to do. I am an unapologetic meat eater; I use my car even when there are alternatives; I am at best a reluctant recycler; I get grumpy over road bumps; I rather like the idea of additional airport capacity; I have resisted moves up to now to install solar panels in my house or adopt non fossil fuel energy, etc. I am mindful of the political paradigm we operate in. Neither the UK nor the US administrations can be deemed as particularly environmentally sympathetic, yet justify why this is the case. For example, imposing restrictions to help the environment could be a threat to individual liberty and economic growth. And then there is the globalist agenda to which I am adverse to, and yet I am mindful that to get good solutions we need countries agreeing and cooperating to tackle the worse threats.
I have kept this article purposely short, realizing this is an enormous subject. My contribution to the debate is trying better to understand the issues; and here I have just begun. Another is to question what can I do in terms of changing my lifestyle in order to improve the lot of my fellow human? Another is to stimulate debate by firstly establishing the facts and consider how we go about improving matters, mindful I am more likely to have the ear of those who look upon environment issues with skepticism and indifference.