Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Saving the Earth

The 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference met in France and came up with something called the Paris Agreement. It is a global statement of intention made by 196 nations concerning the need to address climate change. This is a big issue with strong arguments on both sides, and I will be the first to admit I'm not informed enough to know what, if anything, should be done.

I have heard that climate change is cyclical. Every so many decades or centuries or millennia the world warms up, and then cools down again for another spell. These days human activity seems to be aggravating the situation -- most noticeably through fossil fuel emissions from our cars and industries. This, of course, extends to the roving army of strident activists and politicians jetting all over the globe, urgently warning us of our expanding carbon footprint, not to mention (but I will anyway) the no-small matter of bovine emissions (I think they call them "cow farts").

I don't know how much climate change is due to human actions, or even if climate change is a bad thing -- or all that unnatural -- for that matter. I remember sitting in an undergraduate geography class back in the 80s. The professor showed us a map of Eastern Europe, specifically the Soviet Union. He mentioned how one of that nation's greatest challenges was that the bulk of its landmass was too far north, too cold to be farmable. So its breadbasket was a small region in the south. Now I wondered if that information is still correct. Couldn't it be that parts of the world would actually benefit from a little warming?

The biosphere of the earth, sea and sky is incredibly complex. And I'm not sure our brightest minds are able to accurately gauge the impact our human interactions have on the whole thing. It seems to me a lot of people are running around believing the earth is a closed system with no outside interaction. Consequently, they think that unless we make changes, those changes will never be made. There is no other intelligence overseeing, guarding or protecting our biosphere.

All I can say is that I believe God created the heavens and the earth. And in so doing, I believe He didn't just sit back on the seventh day and say, "My work here is finished. I'll leave it to run itself." No, rather, I believe He holds it all together, even though our sin and short-sightedness have greatly damaged our environment as well as our fellow human and nonhuman creatures living here with us. God gives humanity the responsibility and authority to oversee this planet, and that's for better or worse. But this doesn't mean He isn't actively controlling it, working either miraculously or through the mechanisms He has placed within the biosphere to help clean up our oil spills, or to compensate for increased greenhouse gases.

We have one earthly life to live. As such we owe it to God -- and each other -- to learn as much as we can about protecting our environment, so we don't make matters worse. But we can't forget that God is the Creator and the Sustainer of this creation. At the same time, we need to remember the best we can do is put a bandage on a badly hurt creation. The natural world around us will continue to be subjected to frustration (see Romans 8) and will groan in the pangs of child-birth until Jesus' return. Then, without our agreements, scientists, and global initiatives, Jesus will completely and perfectly restore this biosphere where we will live in glorified bodies, forever enjoying His perfect heavens and earth, dwelling in absolute harmony and delight with Him, with each other, and with His whole creation.

Sound too good to be true?

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