Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Stewardship II

Or why it matters.  Why we can have hope.

In certain circles of opposition to environmentalism or global conservation, there is a bit of fatalism.  The idea that nothing we do matters in terms of the planet.  That if there is global warming, it's not caused by humans, but by other natural factors.  And likewise, that there is nothing that we could do to change it for the better.

This flies in the face of the available evidence.  We can clearly see areas in which the harms to the environment are our fault.  The plastic islands.  Ocean acidification.  Air pollution.  The list goes on and on.

With all of that, it would be easy to give into despair.  To believe the future is hopeless.  Go ahead and run a search on Google and see how many results come back for the question "should I have kids given global warming?"  There is reason enough to be so concerned that people are contemplating forgoing children instead of leaving them a ravaged planet Earth.

Clearly, there is an issue that demands action.

But, it is also important to remember that we have reasons for hope.

First and foremost, our God is a creator who takes care of His creation according to His will.  He is not just looking out for His people, He will be about redeeming His entire creation.  And that includes the Earth.  That is why there will be a new Earth following the Judgment.  He cares about His creation and He will make it perfect again.  Now, might He use global warming/climate change to accomplish His final judgment?  Yes.  He's done it before with a global flood.  But until and through that time, He is tending to what is His.

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more valuable than they?”  
Matthew 6:26

But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds in the sky, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish in the sea inform you.  Which of all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this?  In his hand is the life of every creature and the breadth of all mankind.” 
Job 12:7-10

“In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.  The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” 
Psalm 95:4-5

Further, He has created a wonderfully, living, and self-sufficient organism in the planet Earth.  It is not designed to maintain a status quo, but to be a living and healing organism that adjusts to changes that occur and continually evolves.  It adapts.  That is what all of the effects of global climate change are.  Polar ice cap melting, global sea rise, removal of coastlines, etc.  They are all adaptations of the planet reacting to the change in temperature and trying to compensate.  A system trying to correct itself.  

What is hard to swallow in remembering this fact, is that sometimes the corrective action is devastating to the human race.  We, by nature, are creatures that like to maintain a status quo.  We want to be able to visit the same beach in the same place we remember as a kid, that our parents brought us to, that their parents brought them to, and so on and so on.  We want to be able to continually build houses in now flood prone areas.  In tornado alleys.  On fault lines.  On hurricane prone coastlines.  All on the chance that we will not be affected often.  That we can build to adapt.  

We remove forests, we displace local wildlife, we alter the topography of the region.  And expect that there will not be an effect.  So that we are surprised when nature reacts back.  

Maybe we need to start reconsidering our relationship with His creation?  How much we change it?  How much we take from it?

There is also reason to hope because we do see positive changes in the environment.  We are seeing the benefit of activism regarding protecting, cleaning, and reviving the world around us.

We are saving endangered species.  Red-cockaded Woodpeckers have been saved through science and ingenuity, moving the bird out of endangered status.

We are restoring natural landscapes.  The restoration of the Pawcatuck River in Rhode Island, once dammed, has restored a migratory pathway for American shad, river herring, sea-run brook trout and other species for the first time in centuries.

We are saving habitats ravaged by natural disasters.  Conservation techniques involving putting seedlings in a specific soil mix before transplanting has helped more than 70% native plants survive after wildfires in opposition to invasive cheatgrass.

We are finding new sustainable sources for food and other supplies.  Seaweed farming in particular requires little additional input than sunlight and sea water, holding the ability to remove excess nutrients from eutrophic areas, and even mitigating the effects of ocean acidification.  This could be a great help in saving our marine life.

We're changing our energy use.  Renewable energy use is on the rise.  A recent report from Wood Mackenzie predicts that clean energy technologies have become so cost effective that they will replace fossil fuels as the main source of energy within the next 20 years.  Currently, five states generate more 10 percent or more of their energy from solar energy.  More than 100 cities and counties are committed to transferring to 100 percent clean energy.  And other countries are leading the way.  Germany produced enough renewable energy in the first half of 2018 to power every household in the country for a year.  Portugal ran on renewable energy for the entire month of March.  Costa Rica has been maintaining 98-99% renewable energy for years now.

We are learning about some of the most effective solutions.  In particular, scientists have noted that there is a cumulative space around the world the size of the United States available for planting trees and that this would reduce global carbon emissions by 25%.  Scotland has done their part, planting over 22 million trees last year, smashing their goals.

We are making new discoveries each and every day and we are seeing millions of people, and scores of companies and governments committing to make a change. To become better stewards.  To give up what is easy or convenient, for what is better.  What is sustainable, what is beneficial.  What is healthy.

The good news is that there are very easy steps that can be taken to start.

Recycle.  Even if you don't live in an area where recycling is a part of the city or municipal garbage collection, you can start by being committed to recycling as much as possible.  Focus on eliminating single use items as much as possible, in particular plastics.  Such as plastic straws and other utensils, plastic plates and cups, plastic containers.  Reuse the plastic containers.  Be like our grandparents.  They make excellent containers for leftovers.  No need to buy them separate from the store.   When you upgrade your electronic devices, be sure to recycle the old ones with the electronics company.  They can be stripped for parts to be used in repairs or remodels.

Reuse.  Buy second hand items.  Find new purposes for old items.  Trade with friends and neighbors.  Donate items to charitable organizations so they can be redistributed. 

Reduce.  Reduce waste.  Compost food waste.  Switch single use items out for repetitive use versions.  Cloth napkins for paper towels, plates instead of paper plates, handkerchiefs instead of Kleenex, etc.  Look for ways to reduce the amount of items that you are putting in the trash.

Refuse.  Refuse products that are harmful to the environment.  Take the Plastics Pledge  refusing plastic straws, plastic bottles, and plastic bags.  

There are many easy steps we can take.  It just takes a commitment.

Are you willing to be a better steward of God's creation?  Do you desire to be the faithful servant in this respect?

Why not start today?

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