Opinion: Christians are called to be good stewards of the earth
A barren, suffocating world where life as we know it is over is often the premise of Hollywood’s latest sci-fi blockbuster or the setting of a novel that’s soared to the top of the bestseller list.
Rarely do we think of such disaster happening in our own lifetime. But according to recent reports on the effects of climate change, it’s clear that there is no longer an option to deny the human contribution to climate change.
To address climate change, we need to change our greenhouse effects on the world, and we need to do it now. As Christians, we have a sacred calling to protect creation and mitigate the harmful effects of humans.
A report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, made up of more than 1,300 independent scientific experts, predicts 20 years before the planet reaches a crucial breaking point in 2030. By then, the average surface temperature will have risen almost 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
If that human effects on climate change continues, the global temperature will have risen by an average of 7 degrees by 2100.
“A 1-degree global change is significant because it takes a vast amount of heat to warm all the oceans, atmosphere, and land by that much,” a NASA report details. “A 5-degree drop was enough to bury a large part of North America under a towering mass of ice.”
The implications of such a drastic rise in temperature all but guarantees the risk of wildfires, extreme drought, rising sea levels and food shortages
Climate change on this scale is nearly universally agreed upon by scientists as the result of human induced greenhouse gas emissions, according to NASA. These emissions are caused by buildup from burning fossil fuels such as coal and oil. As a result: the gasses get trapped in the atmosphere, creating an enhanced greenhouse effect and increasing global temperature averages.
Yet despite these studies, only 28 percent of evangelicals acknowledge that human activity is the primary cause of climate change. By comparison, 60 percent of the general population believe that human activity causes climate change, according to the Morning Call. The New York Times reported that 31 percent of Republicans recognize climate change as caused by humans.
Scripture is permeated with examples of God commanding us to tend to his creation. It’s one of the first things God asked of us in Genesis 2:15, after the creation of mankind. Likewise, there are examples in Jeremiah 2:7 and Deuteronomy 11:12 of how God looks over his creation.
We are stewards of the earth, and we have a responsibility to care for it. Scripture is clear that all of God’s creation, not just mankind, brings him glory. Therefore, our stewardship and upkeep of the earth is one of the greatest offerings of worship we can give.
Sitting back and doing nothing because one day Christ will return and make all things new is the antithesis of the gospel. Ignoring our duty to the earth based on that reasoning is a misguided attempt at passing off our apathy as faith.
We must trust that God can handle the long term and rejoice in the fact that one day there will be a new earth. But we need to realize that we have a responsibility to the earth now. Our dominion over the earth should never be confused as permission to abuse or abandon it.