We won’t fix climate crisis until we treasure the globe
Nathan Day Wilson
“The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims God’s handiwork.” (Psalm 19) I was pleased and disheartened, when I was reminded of that verse this week.
I was pleased for the reminder that, according to the Bible, nature and nature’s God are inseparable; they are one. In the words of another psalm, “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have set in place…” (Psalm 8).
For the Bible and those who read it seriously, there is a core, inescapable relationship between God and nature or creation or the environment. It’s that relationship that leads church people to sing hymns such as “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” and “The Spacious Firmament on High.”
And, yet, I was disheartened, too. For while they tell of God’s glory and proclaim God’s handiwork, these days the heavens and earth must surely also declare reprehensible the effects of human activities: overconsumption, overexploitation, pollution and deforestation.
Take pollution as one example. The dangers of pollution start at the beginning of life. Toxic pollutants cross the placenta, increasing the risk of preterm birth and low birth weight, which can cause lifelong damage to multiple organ systems. Children breathe more rapidly, so they absorb more pollutants at a time when their developing organs are more vulnerable. As a result, air pollution causes an estimated 600,000 deaths each year in children younger than 5, mostly from pneumonia.
In adults, pollution contributes to a wide range of respiratory and circulatory diseases and may accelerate cognitive decline in seniors.
Pollution is only one part of our climate crisis. Many people are struggling with anger and depression in the face of an overwhelming climate crisis. Climate
change has been known of and talked about for decades, while attempts to preserve the environment and reduce climate change have been blocked by corrupt politicians and corporations overtaken by greed.
How should people of faith respond?
We begin by reasserting with vigor the connection between God and God’s nature. I’m convinced that until we do, we won’t be moved to consistent actions.
In addition our relationship to nature must change from “owner” to “steward.”
Stewards are caretakers, not consumers. Stewards practice social justice. Stewards know that equity is not optional if we are to live together.
“We have forgotten that we belong to each other,” Mother Teresa said.
Perhaps remembering that is key to our survival.
Wilson is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Follow him on Twitter: @nathandaywilson