This past week I had the pleasure of attending an Environmental Stewardship conference at the Vineyard in Boise, Idaho. I got to do one of my favorite things on my birthday, travel solo hundreds on miles along vacant roads through the open and remote countryside of the west. There was rain, snow, more rain and a full ten hours alone with God – as if we had set it up together [or had He corralled me for a long listen?], rather than me only offering him the leftovers and pridefully tiny pieces of my day. Wonderfully adept at finding myself the hypocrite, I pondered my singular use of gasoline along the way…this would fade to the realization that I had offered Jesus my heart, and was simply seeking His.
I come to the discipleship in Jesus from one of many disciplines in “-ology”. And as such, those things environmental and scientific are familiar. I don’t so much struggle with reconciling science with faith, or faith with science - but rather look for insight into the toolkit God has gifted me (both expertise and desire), and how that might be used. Can I really be a part of reforesting China for the glory of God?
Reforesting the eroding hillsides of the world is more about the poor, widows and orphans than what could be viewed as tree worship, or environmental idolatry. If I received one thing though my travels north, it was conformation and validation from the Spirit that I was in the right place…to glorify God through the stewardship of his stuff; this was simply being obedient to his command.
The environment is composed of dirt, water, air, plants and animals. This is true, but not the whole story. The stewardship of these natural resources is about people, and specifically the poor. The poor of the world are the first and hardest hit by the degradation of God’s environment…the Creation, in which we are blessed to walk out our lives. This is difficult for us to see here. We are so insulated from the earth, that often people see water coming from plastic bottles, and food from the store.
We are continually able to buy our way through shortage, drought and disaster. Eventually (as is true in our hearts and mind if we have the eyes to see), we can no longer buy off our sin. We must confront the pride, greed and indifference that has caused us the consequences of our sin. Eventually, though Jesus and a repentant heart, will not only turn from the consequences of our sin, but the sin itself…we will transform into the new creation that God has planned us to become before creation.
The conversations of atheist scientists studying the physical environment begin with stories of early concerns about pollution and the development of technology to solve these issues. Thirty years later, these same atheist scientists come to find the root of environmental degradation is not pollution, but greed, pride and apathy. Technology will not offer a solution, but rather, there is a need for a cultural and spiritual transformation. A transformation they are not capable of bottling, branding and distributing like so much fertilizer. But the church, the hope of the world, they are in the ‘business’ of such transformation.
More to follow…but a few links for now.
Sierra Club - faith partnerships
A FIRST STEP - Use a energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL)
Over half of the electricity in the U.S. is generated by coal-fired power plants. The abundance of coal in the U.S. makes it one of the cheapest energy sources for power plants. The problem is that in addition to generating cheap electricity, coal-fired power plants also release massive amounts of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas linked to global warming.
By replacing a few incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent light bulbs, you have an important role to play in the fight against global warming. Let's work backwards:
If you replace incandescent light bulbs with CFL light bulbs....
....then you'll consume less electricity
.....then less coal-based power will have to be generated to meet your demand
....then less coal will be burned
....then less greenhouse gas will be released into the atmosphere
if every one of 110 million American households bought just one ice-cream-cone bulb, took it home, and screwed it in the place of an ordinary 60-watt bulb, the energy saved would be enough to power a city of 1.5 million people. One bulb swapped out, enough electricity saved to power all the homes in Delaware and Rhode Island. In terms of oil not burned, or greenhouse gases not exhausted into the atmosphere, one bulb is equivalent to taking 1.3 million cars off the roads.
That's the law of large numbers--a small action, multiplied by 110 million.
The single greatest source of greenhouse gases in the United States is power plants--half our electricity comes from coal plants. One bulb swapped out: enough electricity saved to turn off two entire power plants--or skip building the next two.