Easter, stewardship and God’s climate plan

By David Jenkins

As we celebrate Easter and witness the beauty of spring, it is a great time for Christians to reflect on how our faith requires us to be good stewards of this planet that God has entrusted to our care.

Too often, this obligation and the facts that should inform it are obscured by political bias and misinformed rhetoric. This is particularly true when it comes to the climate change issue.

It is a real challenge to sort through all the claims and counter-claims about climate, especially when the conversation is largely driven by those on both the political left and political right who have axes to grind and seem incapable of honestly evaluating a problem.

Truth matters, and to be good stewards of our planet we must sort through what the scientific research is telling us, separate the politically biased rhetoric from informed opinion, and factor in what we are witnessing with our own eyes. But most importantly, we should consult the Bible for guidance.

In the book of Genesis (3:19), God told Adam that his body would return to the ground when he died, saying, "…out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and unto dust you shall return." God was describing one of the fundamental processes in the earth’s design: the carbon cycle.

The carbon cycle is a miraculous process by which trees and other plants, animals, people, and the ocean remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and transfer it into the ground where the excess is sequestered. This is how nature maintains the proper balance of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere that is required for sustaining life.

The intended resting place for a significant amount of that excess carbon is deep underground in the form of oil and coal deposits.

When we extract that oil and coal from the earth and burn it in ever increasing quantities, we release excess carbon from bygone eras back into the atmosphere, throwing a monkey wrench into the carbon cycle’s operation.

Does it not then stand to reason that God, after designing the earth’s processes to sequester excess carbon, would prefer that we respect His creation and find better ways to heat our homes and power our cars than using huge amounts of oil and coal?

Climate skeptics – particularly those on talk radio – like to peddle the notion that the earth was created on such a grand and complex scale, it is impossible for mankind to mess it up. In other words, we can do anything we want without serious consequence.

Does that sound like something God would say?

Actually, it sounds a lot more like something the snake in the Garden of Eden would say.

Is there any aspect of our spiritual or physical life where our actions are without consequence? Everything we do has consequences – and the earth’s life-sustaining ecology was not designed to be immune from our actions and choices.

God gave mankind the ability to reason, and the experts are telling us that too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere disrupts the climate and causes the earth to overheat. This warming results in new and unusual weather patterns, more intense storms, worse flooding, longer droughts, more frequent heat waves.

With the record warmth and other weird, unprecedented weather events we have experienced over the past year – in the U.S. alone we have broken over 130,000 weather records – it is hard not to conclude that something is amiss with our climate.

If we broke it, it is probably safe to say that God expects us to fix it.

As we observe Easter this year, we would do well to consider the words of conservative author and poet T.S. Eliot.

He pointed out that, "Religion, as distinguished from modern paganism, implies a life in conformity with nature," and then he wisely concluded:

"A wrong attitude towards nature implies, somewhere, a wrong attitude towards God."

David Jenkins is vice president for government and political affairs at Republicans for Environmental Protection (REP), a national grassroots organization dedicated to strengthening the Republican Party’s commitment to responsible environmental stewardship. Jenkins can be reached at djenkins@rep.org.

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