Climate change: Should we care

People say the world will end in x number of years if we don’t do something about climate change. Should we try to prevent it through conservation efforts or just accept that life on this world is temporary and one day the world as we know it will end?

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@Sgpage In Genesis we were given the task of being good stewards, so I think it is our responsibility to do our best to take care of the world we have been given. I think there is some nuance here as well. As Christians we recognize that humans are inherently more valuable than animals or the planet, but we also recognize that a righteous person is kind to the creatures of the world and that we should steward the world we have been given.

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Rom 8:21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
I have no idea how, but it seems that sin literally has affected the physical environment. And the remedy is found in verse 19, in that all of Creation is aching in anticipation of the manifestation of the sons of God. So the climate change I am looking for is revival.

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@Sgpage – I would exclaim a resounding ‘YES!’ to you question of ‘Should we care?’. Humankind was entrusted at the beginning with God’s grand and good creation and that mandate has not ceased to be. We have been tasked with cultivating the land, not exploiting it. As we care for it, it nourishes us. And I do believe that with the Fall of humankind (Gen. 3) came the added need for protecting the land from humanity’s abuse, whether intentional or inadvertent. I wonder if it is true that part of the curse affected humankind’s ability to know and understand nature and truly care for it? Maybe that’s why Paul reflects as he does in Romans 8 (as @manbooks cites above)?

What I also think we need to protect against is political fear-mongering, which happens under many guises, esp. that of environmental care. We need reasonable political solutions to environmental concerns. I believe that we ignore them, ultimately, to our injury!

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Yes, I think we should care. Like others said we are called to be good stewards. Now we shouldn’t worship the earth like some do, or even get to the point where we view our selves as “saviors” of it. God is in control, but we do have a role…(saving that cause that’s a good little line to remember.)

So ues we should care about Climate Change and the environment and the ecosystems, and plants, and animals. Bit we shouldn’t worry or fret, we shouldn’t live as those with no hope. We have Hope, and hope that is not grounded in wishful thinking but in Truth and fact. A hope that is not something to make us feel better or to give us comfort but that is real and factual.

While others are fighting to save the earth, we should share in their concern but at the same time we should tell them of the One who is Going to Save the Earth one day soon. And, how we ourselves can already be saved, thanks to Him.

Care about the environment…absolutely! In fact, I would argue that as Christians we have a transcendent mandate to do so, namely that the creator of the earth has put us here, in part, to steward His original creation (Gen 1:27-28). That we have failed to do this well is evidenced by the amount of pollution we see in the atmosphere, and on the ground. But, that is not surprising, since all things human beings handle is tainted by and through sin. Just as our own persons are defiled by sin, so is the house which we inhabit defiled by it. But, that is no reason to simply accept it as such; in fact it is good reason, every reason in fact, for us, for Christians especially, to engage in the redemptive act of preserving and renewing creation.

However, at the same time, as primary stewards of a created world, we must not forgot its Creator! That seems to be the biggest problem with many today who champion a form of environmentalism, yet who do not see it in the context of a created order, but only as a happy accident. Thus, there tends to be an appeal to only secular powers, large international governing bodies, to try and fix these problems that we have caused.

But, without a biblical worldview, these governing institutions have rather conflicting attitudes or perspectives about what human flourishing actually is. That is going to look very different to the highly secular German or Swede over and against the deeply religious Pakistani or Saudi, not to mention everyone in between. One can imagine all of the different conclusions human beings can come to about what it means to be human, and what it means for human beings to prosper and thrive, apart from any definitive revelatory knowledge about who we are, for what purposes we exist, and to what ends we should be oriented. Thus, without a moderately unifying conception of the good, it is hard to know how to approach care for the environment. This is yet another reasons why biblical Christians should get involved in this conversation, offering what we rightly think is at least a better approximation of human flourishing, and that based on our claim to know humanity’s creator and redeemer.

My main concern then is that climate change becomes yet another tool in the hands of the powerful to exert a measure of control over the masses, masses prone to turning the creation itself into an object of worship. I am not saying here that climate change as such is not happening, nor am I claiming a conspiracy of any sort, but I do think it would be healthy to exercise a certain degree of skepticism with regard to some of the rhetoric out there, all the while engaging in practices that might actually benefit the environment (e.g. like how we live practically in our own lives). The fact is that science often does not get it right, or only gets it partially right. Unfortunately as sinful beings we are prone to all kinds of fears and hysteria, and there have been examples in the past of “dooms-day” predictions from high-level officials and officiating bodies regarding the shifting climate. It is hard to say with any certitude how much of today’s climate debate is real and how much is political and social hyperbole.

For example, it seems to me that that part of the climate story which is primarily political and social hyperbole, is whatever part leads young people to disavow their natural desires to have children. That seems to be quite an exaggerated position, and I do worry about consequences like these. Whatever human, or even supra-human, powers are at work in convincing young people to not have children, I would prima facie consider these to be not only negative, but even sinful or antithetical to the Christian worldview.

However, once again to be fair, when we see things like the massive garbage vortex in the middle of the Pacific ocean, a patch of sea refuse twice the size of Texas, well, I don’t know how we cannot keep from weeping and gnashing our teeth at such a tragedy. Do tragedies like this warrant young people making vows to refrain from having children (I assume they will still be having sex)…no, I don’t think it does at all. Yet, to not point out something as horrific as this and call it a result of sin, would be a double tragedy to say the least.

So, as with so much else that needs our attention, I neither want to see Christians overreact to climate change, as if the world and its future is solely in our hands; nor should we underreact to it, as if we have no say in how that future plays out. We must engage in the effort to beautify and cleanse our planet, all the while realizing that we are only its curator, not its master.

As to the second part of your question regarding the finitude and temporary nature of life, I don’t think that would count as a reason not to engage in the protection and conservation of life. God often calls us to work that we know ultimately will not last; in fact, aside from the call to evangelism, most of our work will not last, in that sense. This does not mean, however, that our work in the world is pointless, even if the results are finite and limited.

As we work, for example, we should also be growing and changing as beings. We might see our work therefore as a way to both exercise the creative capacities God has given us, while at the same time, learning about how the exercise of those capacities might allow us to change into a being that is more like the Creator himself, more like Christ “through whom all things were made.” As such, our efforts against evil, destruction, and decay in the world are the means through which we can cultivate the virtues that make us more ready for life in the Kingdom of God, regardless of whether the victories we gain here on earth are merely fleeting. As C.S. Lewis once said, it is people who last, not nations, cultures or societies, etc.:

“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.” from The Weight of Glory

Anyway, I hope this helps a bit. It’s definitely a great question, and one worth thinking about seriously.

in Christ,
Anthony

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