Archive for the ‘Environment’ Category

>Oil and kudzu

June 22, 2010

>We (humans) can do little things that become big goofs. Some things look big, but are actually small, but still can be a big goof.

Two articles in today’s Birmingham News show us that this is true.

Oil

Article

One article is about the oil spill. How big is the spill?, the headline asks. Let’s put it in context, the headline answers.

The Mississippi River pours as much water into the Gulf of Mexico in 38 seconds as the BP oil leak has done in two months.

For every gallon of oil that BP’s well has gushed into the Gulf of Mexico, there is more than 5 billion gallons of water already in it. That’s 1:5,000,000,000.

If all the oil that has spilled were poured into the Superdome, it would only fill it one seventh of the way up.

Kudzu Article

If you live in Alabama you know Kudzu. The sprawling vine covers 61,295 acres in our state, according to the U. S. Forest Service. The Alabama Cooperative Extension Service estimates estimates over 250,000 acres in our state are covered.

There are 52,419.02 square miles = 33,548,172.8 acres in Alabama. Using the U. S. Forest Service estimate, that’s 1:547 acres of our state are Kudzu covered.

(Depending on where one looks for information and whether just land is counted or all area, land and water, the number of square miles in Alabama varies, by the way.)

Kudzu first appeared in the U. S. in 1876, and was used as an ornamental. In the 1930’s is was decided it could be used to control another human goof up (soil erosion from improper agricultural practices in the Southeast) and so 85 million (85,000,000) kudzu seeds were shipped to southern landowners.

Now we learn that Kudzu may be responsible for some of the ground level ozone that affects our air quality and gives people like me fits on days when we are warned not to go outdoors in Jefferson County.

So, here’s my point. Republicans and other contrarians that deny global warming have said that we cannot affect the climate, that human action is too small compared to the expanse of the world and air that surrounds it. Republicans and other petro lovers have said that the Gulf oil spill is not that big a deal and are still screaming drill baby drill. Tony Hayward said the spill was “relatively tiny” compared to the “very big ocean.” Technically, as has been shown, he was right.

There are two kinds of people in the world (really there are many kinds, depending on what one is talking about), those who care about the environment and those who do not. Of the ones who care about the environment there are two kinds, those who understand that little things we do today, can have a huge impact tomorrow, and those whose concern about the environment goes no further than what they see at the moment and their perception of a more immediate future.

A little ornamental vine that was exhibited at an exposition in Philadelphia in 1876 has turned into a monster that affects our health as a result of human activity.

The relatively small amount of oil leaking into the Gulf of Mexico is going to forever change some of the most fragile and important lands in the coastal states, and affect many species in ways we cannot predict yet. The root of this problem is human, also. Human greed.

Republicans have called for less financial regulation, in the aftermath of a financial crisis that was caused in large part by lack of regulation.

Now they want to block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases, and are critical of the president’s halt of deep water drilling.

Here’s the deal. America has to wake up. Quit putting off the development of alternative energy sources while saying we have plenty of fossil fuel and time to slowly make the changes. And quit drilling in the Gulf…really forever, but at least until you can assure us that you know WTF you are doing!

Here’s an idea. Add a $4.00 per gallon gas tax and let the proceeds go toward alternative fuel research. We made a drastic and relatively quick change from horse and buggy to steam engine to gasoline powered vehicles and I’m sure the horse traders and horse feed producers didn’t like it one bit. The industrial revolution changed the way goods were produced and I’m sure that as the factories were beginning to manufacture what we needed (or wanted) the cottage industry folks were concerned about their way of life.

It’s no different now. A big change is going to come about. It’s just a matter of who will accept it and learn to change along with it, and who will be kicking and screaming because they can’t adjust.

PS. The new Share buttons that follow this are probably not working. Why not give it a try and let me know if anything happens? When I click, it does not give me opportunity to share. How about you?

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>Western Tribune column January 13, 2010: Avatar

January 13, 2010

>This is my Western Tribune column for January 13, 2010. I have seen Avatar twice, and probably will see it one more time. There are so many lessons to be learned from this film, it’s hard to explain in 400 words. Here goes:

Picture credit: James Cameron’s Avatar Wiki page

I will assume that most readers have seen the movie Avatar, but just in case someone reading this has missed the record breaking sensory feast, there will be no spoiler here. The details that I reveal have already been mentioned in news stories.

On Pandora, the planet like moon where the story takes place, a world is seen where the creatures and plant life – nature – are in tune and exist in a sort of harmony that still allows an acceptance of death and sorrow.

But in the year 2154 our planet has become “brown” and humans have found a new source for resources that are much needed on earth.

With that set up in mind, some conservative and religious leaders are claiming that there is a hidden message promoting a liberal tree-hugging, anti-Christian agenda.

Hardly. I mean, the message is not hidden; it’s the theme of the movie, with a love story entwined.

Nature is a powerful force, and we witness this every year with hurricanes and tsunamis and mudslides and such. Nature affects us in other ways as well, from the microbes that help us digest our food to the diseases that we seek to conquer.

On Pandora, rather than battling nature, the Na’Vi (the indigenous blue-skinned stars of the film) enjoy a spiritual connection to the other species with a simple understanding of the circle of energy and life.

We have tried to separate ourselves from the rest of nature, in part due to religious beliefs that promote us to a status above the animals over which we have dominion and just below the God we worship, but also because of what we have accomplished with the larger brains and opposable thumbs we developed.

In doing so, we link God and nature together in much the same way the Na’Vi link their natural life with their spiritual force, Eywa. We, or most of us, just don’t admit it.

Oddly enough, we have chosen to abuse our planet and ignore the signs of peril and the results are becoming evident, through climate change, and epidemics and such.

Nature versus God, or nature equals god, are arguments as old as humanity itself.

But as in the movie, nature “does not take sides.” Yet we will continue our attempts to shift the balance of life in our favor.

We may have to wait on the promised Avatar sequels to learn how that works out.

>Western Tribune Column December 17 2008

December 17, 2008

>(Read more about and see pictures of Masdar here.)

Tribune column

When will America begin to take the energy crisis seriously? It looked like we were beginning when gas was hovering around $4.00 a gallon. People began to drive less, to run multiple errands at a time and to carpool. Average miles driven decreased significantly, and the consumption of energy in the form of gasoline dropped.

Now that gasoline prices have fallen our old habits are beginning to return.

In other countries energy conservation is ahead of us. Way ahead. For instance, in Abu Dhabi the leaders believe that petroleum is a thing of the past. They are building a city named Masdar, which is Arabic for “source.”

Masdar, will be a zero-waste, zero-carbon city, powered mostly by sunlight, which is plentiful in the desert.

The city will house 50,000 residents and 40,000 commuters. There will be 65 million square feet of office space.

Cars will be banned within the city limits. Garages are available outside of the city for parking, and electric transportation pods will transport people throughout the city.

Wastewater will be used to irrigate fields that grow biofuels.

In many aspects it is easier to build a city like this from scratch rather than convert and existing city. But American planners should look closely at the innovations in Masdar as new developments are proposed.

Green building technology is on the rise on our country. While individuals may be slow to adapt new habits regarding energy usage, architects are realizing more and more the advantages of designing from a conservation and renewable standpoint.

Construction costs may be a few percentage points higher with green technology, but we must realize that the dollars spent on construction are not the only costs associated with building. In fact, even future savings in energy costs (which can offset construction costs) are not all that should be considered.

The simple fact that we are using less of the earth’s precious resources should make small increases in price more acceptable. Some resources really are limited, in spite of what some politicians may want you to believe.

The leaders of oil rich Abu Dhabi are convinced that the world will wean itself from oil and we should join them. We can either face the end of the petroleum era on our terms, or allow it to force us into a crisis much worse than what we just went through. The choice is ours.

>Sharing Our Nuclear Technology with Saudi Arabia?

June 18, 2008

>While we ponder ruining our coastlines?

If you read nothing else, at least read this piece from the Wall Street Journal that I mention down the page a bit.

But first,

“President” Bush needs to realize that concerns about the environment do not end when Americans are inconvenienced. Bush asks congress to go along with forgetting the environment.

I realize that the high gas proces ar more than an inconvenience to some, in fact, a hardship. But the Bush administration’s failure to seek alternative, progressive forms of energy over the last 7 years is no excuse to endanger the fragile environs of the seas and shores.

I know it is the Republican way to be reactive rather than proactive, and this is just another example of lack of forethought (in spite of scientists and environmentalists and progressives thinking and speaking out about it for a decade).

It would probably take a decade before we saw any oil from offshore drilling. It’s not like you can just go out there, insert a tap and start the flow. If we have to wait 10 years, even 5 years before we stop the escalating of gas prices that is not going to help John Q. Public.

Hopefully Congress will not fall for this “destroy the earth but help out big oil” ploy that was probably designed by Bush’s oil buddies.

And flip flop McCain is just as bad, thinking this will gain him the Virginia electoral votes.
Meanwhile, why did Saudi Arabia decide to increase production recently. Maybe in return for the U. S. handing over nuclear technology to the nation with all the oil and sunsine (as in solar).

From the Wall Street Journal: In a ceremony little-noticed in this country, Ms. Rice volunteered the U.S. to assist Saudi Arabia in developing nuclear reactors, training nuclear engineers, and constructing nuclear infrastructure. While oil breaks records at $130 per barrel or more, the American consumer is footing the bill for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions.

That was written in this opinion piece, and it just shows the whole world is screwed with Bush as the screwdriver.

Good Lord, bring us Obama!!!

Sharing Our Nuclear Technology with Saudi Arabia?

June 18, 2008

While we ponder ruining our coastlines?

If you read nothing else, at least read this piece from the Wall Street Journal that I mention down the page a bit.

But first,

“President” Bush needs to realize that concerns about the environment do not end when Americans are inconvenienced. Bush asks congress to go along with forgetting the environment.

I realize that the high gas proces ar more than an inconvenience to some, in fact, a hardship. But the Bush administration’s failure to seek alternative, progressive forms of energy over the last 7 years is no excuse to endanger the fragile environs of the seas and shores.

I know it is the Republican way to be reactive rather than proactive, and this is just another example of lack of forethought (in spite of scientists and environmentalists and progressives thinking and speaking out about it for a decade).

It would probably take a decade before we saw any oil from offshore drilling. It’s not like you can just go out there, insert a tap and start the flow. If we have to wait 10 years, even 5 years before we stop the escalating of gas prices that is not going to help John Q. Public.

Hopefully Congress will not fall for this “destroy the earth but help out big oil” ploy that was probably designed by Bush’s oil buddies.

And flip flop McCain is just as bad, thinking this will gain him the Virginia electoral votes.
Meanwhile, why did Saudi Arabia decide to increase production recently. Maybe in return for the U. S. handing over nuclear technology to the nation with all the oil and sunsine (as in solar).

From the Wall Street Journal: In a ceremony little-noticed in this country, Ms. Rice volunteered the U.S. to assist Saudi Arabia in developing nuclear reactors, training nuclear engineers, and constructing nuclear infrastructure. While oil breaks records at $130 per barrel or more, the American consumer is footing the bill for Saudi Arabia’s nuclear ambitions.

That was written in this opinion piece, and it just shows the whole world is screwed with Bush as the screwdriver.

Good Lord, bring us Obama!!!

>Alabama: Not very Green, and More

December 28, 2007

>It was a good week for Haden C. White of Homewood. Mr. White had a letter published in the Birmingham News this morning in which he reflected on Christmas spent in Vietnam 40 years ago. He also had a letter (the second one on this link) printed in U. S. News and World Report this week in which he reasons that people do not want to spend money on war movies because that is all we see on TV now.

I don’t know Haden White, but I know that when you go to the trouble of writing a letter to either the paper or a national magazine, it is a good feeling to see your efforts in print. Happy New Year Mr. White, and thank you for your service to our country.

Here in Alabama we learn that we are ranked 48 on the Forbes first ever list of America’s Greenest States. That is no surprise, as our state is controlled by interests who, for the most part, do not care about the enviroment: the Republican Party and the Church (Christian evangelicals, to be precise).

Here is what Forbes says about Alabama:

“So who’s at the bottom? Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana and, at No. 50, West Virginia. All suffer from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it. Expect them to remain that way.”

Here is the caption next to a picture representing our state.

Alabama No. 48 Score: 15.8 out of 50

In short, people in Alabama drive a lot. Only four states had a higher number of vehicle miles traveled per capita. Alabama also manages the fifth largest amount of toxic waste per capita, disposing of or releasing 122.9 million lbs of waste in 2005. It also has not implemented very many energy efficiency policies.

Here is an example of something I noticed on our trip to California. We were in the town of 29 Palms, just outside of Joshua Tree National Park.

We had exited the park to get gas, and noticed they used these vapor recovery nozzles on the pumps.

We filled up, and I got to thinking. We live in a metropolitan area that is plagued each summer with high ozone levels. Ground level ozone is created, in part, when gasoline vapors are exposed to sunlight. EPA Ozone Pollution

We filled up knowing that our contribution to harmful ozone was reduced by using this simple device.

Ozone in Birmingham and surrounding communities curtails economic development, and affects the health of thousands each year.

So why, in our city, county, state, do we not require this type of device on gas pumps? Like I said, we are controlled by republicans and evangelicals, and the republicans are against this because it might cost their gas producing corporate buddies (although the cost would really fall on the gas station owners who would pass it on to consumers) a penny or two. Evangelicals don’t care because improving the environment is too close to the ideals of us “tree hugging liberals”. These are attitudes that need to change in our state.

Here is a tree we saw in a botanical garden, in Palm Springs, but it is native to tropical Mexico. The common name is “Cascalote” and the scientific name is Caesalpinia cacalaco. It blooms in the winter and has thorns on the branches that turn into these sharp knobs on the trunks.

Oh, and people keep asking. This picture:

is of the letter “L” enclosed by a circle with a line through it. “No L” “Noel”

Alabama: Not very Green, and More

December 28, 2007

It was a good week for Haden C. White of Homewood. Mr. White had a letter published in the Birmingham News this morning in which he reflected on Christmas spent in Vietnam 40 years ago. He also had a letter (the second one on this link) printed in U. S. News and World Report this week in which he reasons that people do not want to spend money on war movies because that is all we see on TV now.

I don’t know Haden White, but I know that when you go to the trouble of writing a letter to either the paper or a national magazine, it is a good feeling to see your efforts in print. Happy New Year Mr. White, and thank you for your service to our country.

Here in Alabama we learn that we are ranked 48 on the Forbes first ever list of America’s Greenest States. That is no surprise, as our state is controlled by interests who, for the most part, do not care about the enviroment: the Republican Party and the Church (Christian evangelicals, to be precise).

Here is what Forbes says about Alabama:

“So who’s at the bottom? Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Indiana and, at No. 50, West Virginia. All suffer from a mix of toxic waste, lots of pollution and consumption and no clear plans to do anything about it. Expect them to remain that way.”

Here is the caption next to a picture representing our state.

Alabama No. 48 Score: 15.8 out of 50

In short, people in Alabama drive a lot. Only four states had a higher number of vehicle miles traveled per capita. Alabama also manages the fifth largest amount of toxic waste per capita, disposing of or releasing 122.9 million lbs of waste in 2005. It also has not implemented very many energy efficiency policies.

Here is an example of something I noticed on our trip to California. We were in the town of 29 Palms, just outside of Joshua Tree National Park.

We had exited the park to get gas, and noticed they used these vapor recovery nozzles on the pumps.

We filled up, and I got to thinking. We live in a metropolitan area that is plagued each summer with high ozone levels. Ground level ozone is created, in part, when gasoline vapors are exposed to sunlight. EPA Ozone Pollution

We filled up knowing that our contribution to harmful ozone was reduced by using this simple device.

Ozone in Birmingham and surrounding communities curtails economic development, and affects the health of thousands each year.

So why, in our city, county, state, do we not require this type of device on gas pumps? Like I said, we are controlled by republicans and evangelicals, and the republicans are against this because it might cost their gas producing corporate buddies (although the cost would really fall on the gas station owners who would pass it on to consumers) a penny or two. Evangelicals don’t care because improving the environment is too close to the ideals of us “tree hugging liberals”. These are attitudes that need to change in our state.

Here is a tree we saw in a botanical garden, in Palm Springs, but it is native to tropical Mexico. The common name is “Cascalote” and the scientific name is Caesalpinia cacalaco. It blooms in the winter and has thorns on the branches that turn into these sharp knobs on the trunks.

Oh, and people keep asking. This picture:

is of the letter “L” enclosed by a circle with a line through it. “No L” “Noel”

>Earth Day II: Human Responsibility

April 23, 2007

>

The Birmingham Earth Day parade is today, and I am still in an “earth day” mood so I am posting an essay I wrote years ago in a theology class about our responsibility for taking care of the earth from a biblical perspective. This assignment had particular objetives, so that is why the comparison between the two denominations is included. Since that time a number of evangelical Christians have taken up the cause of protecting the earth, at great cost to some of them as other “Christians” criticize and even seek to demonize them for taking a stand. And whether one is Christian or not, the same principles apply as far as taking care of our planet goes. For the sake of our planet, let us pray that more and more Christians, as well as members of other faiths and those without religious beliefs will realize how important protecting our earth is to our future.
The pictures are examples of “creation” from my backyard (the lizard and flower) and Tulum (the beach).

Human Responsibility as Part of God’s Creation

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep,
while a wind from God swept over the waters
. (Gen 1.1)

The first book of the Old Testament goes on to describe how God gave light to the earth, followed by sky and dry land and vegetation. Stars and the moon were added, followed by living creatures of every kind. While theories abound as to the details of creation, from fundamentalist Christian beliefs that the Bible’s words provide a literal description of the order of creation and that God was involved in each step of the beginnings of our planet, to the widely accepted views that an orderly process occurred that resulted in what is our world today through what is known as evolution, they all seem to agree that where once was nothing, physical (science) events occurred that resulted in our planet, followed by biological (science) events that resulted in the plant and animal life on our planet, and only then did human life appear.

So God created humankind in his image…
Male and female he created them
. (Gen 1:27)

Regardless of the depth or scope of one’s belief regarding creation, all would agree that the physical elements of earth and the various plants and animals were present before humans appeared. This was necessary for people to survive. This made it possible to have places to live and food to eat. Without what is known today as the environment, and nature, we could not exist.

If one believes that God is the creator of the world, and that he created it as outlined in the book of Genesis, then we can assume that he had a reason for creating it in the way that he did, for creating everything else before he created humankind, and that is because these things are necessary for human existence. And it stands to reason that the creation of God would have been ideal for human existence. Likewise, if one believes in evolution with or without the guidance of God, it also stands to reason that humans would not, in fact, could not have evolved until conditions were ideal (I was wrong on this point, as pointed out by one of my brothers). Therefore, it can be reasoned that we should do as little as possible to change our environment, lest we make the conditions in which we live less than ideal for our survival.

This is especially important today, as we now have the ability to adversely affect our environment in so many ways. The advancing of civilization has resulted in reduced air quality and polluted streams and rivers, oil spills from transport tankers and offshore rigs that taint large areas of sea and shore.

Because of the continued demands of society coupled with the unchecked greed of businesspeople and corporations, we now have the ability to deplete our natural resources to a point from which recovery is not possible. Add to this the likelihood of nuclear or chemical terrorism and the widespread devastating effects on the environment that would result, and the prospects of permanent damage to our planet is heightened.

As Christians, what are our duties and responsibilities regarding the environment? The book of Genesis offers instruction. We have already seen that the earth and its flora and fauna were created before humans, and that this was necessary for our survival, but does that mean that the rest of creation belongs to us, that it is ours to do with as we please?

Certainly not. To begin with, we must accept that we are not apart from nature; rather we are a part of nature. The days (or years) of creation include the creation of humankind. God did not rest after he created the earth and its non-human inhabitants, the task was not finished. To complete the creation of the world, humans had to be added. Only then did God rest, only then was creation complete. We are a part of creation, a part of nature. Nature does not just surround us, nature includes us. Migliore (Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding, An Introduction to Christian Theology) says that creation as described in the Bible portrays humans as “standing in organic relation to each other and to the world of nature.”

Second, God still cares for his creation, including, but not limited to, humans. Migliore asserts that God cares for all of creation and not just humans.

The heavens are telling the glory of God,
And the firmament proclaims his handiwork
. (Ps 19:1)

God blesses us, then tells us to “be fruitful and multiply” and gives us dominion over the “fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” He gives us “every plant” and “every tree” and “every green plant” (Gen 1:28-30). Dominion implies control over or sovereignty, not just ownership. God put the rest of creation in the hands of humankind, to be taken care of.

Finally, we should realize that the physical earth, and the beings on it, the creation of God, is the tangible link between us and God. God put man and woman in a garden, and gave them the responsibility to “till it and keep it.” (Gen 2:16). In other words, humans are to take care of what God has provided for us, and keep or protect it, as we nurture our gardens and fields today so that they will keep producing. God gave man the birds and the creatures, and allowed man to name them. These were gifts from God, and we should to this day remember that the animals and birds around us, and the fish in the sea, and indeed all of nature, are a gift from God, an actual, tangible gift.

It is the responsibility of the church to instruct its members and guests regarding the creation and our responsibility in keeping it. The United Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches does not address environmental issues in their Statement of Faith or by-laws. Perhaps they should follow the example of the United Methodist Church which addresses environmental issues in their Social Principles. The section titled “The Natural World” affirms that the creation belongs to the Lord and that we are responsible for it. “Water, air, soil, minerals, energy, resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings.” It goes on to support social policies that are environmentally friendly, in regards to energy production and consumption, waste disposal and industry. Animal life is valued, and this is reflected as well by policies that support the preservation of species, the humane treatment of pets and domestic animals, and painless slaughter of meat animals.

The degree to which these principles are followed and taught by the United Methodist Church probably vary from one congregation to the next. In my personal experience, I have never seen these issues addressed by the church in meetings that included the congregation. The Social Principles are positions the Church has taken on sometimes controversial issues. “They are intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophet spirit” so it may be that their best use is as a reference when issues arise. It would be good if individual churches would present their position on environmental issues to their congregations in order to remind people that creation is the Lord’s, and also to raise awareness that the church is concerned about the natural world. This could be done with a periodic insert in the weekly newsletter or bulletin, and/or by encouraging a group to form that would promote the church’s positions.


The environment and the natural world are important to Christians as reflected, beginning with the very first verses of the Bible through history to the condition of the world today. Hopefully Christians will realize this in greater numbers and become a driving force in shaping local and national policies and not just be content with having their principles buried deep in a book that few read.

Earth Day II: Human Responsibility

April 23, 2007
The Birmingham Earth Day parade is today, and I am still in an “earth day” mood so I am posting an essay I wrote years ago in a theology class about our responsibility for taking care of the earth from a biblical perspective. This assignment had particular objetives, so that is why the comparison between the two denominations is included. Since that time a number of evangelical Christians have taken up the cause of protecting the earth, at great cost to some of them as other “Christians” criticize and even seek to demonize them for taking a stand. And whether one is Christian or not, the same principles apply as far as taking care of our planet goes. For the sake of our planet, let us pray that more and more Christians, as well as members of other faiths and those without religious beliefs will realize how important protecting our earth is to our future.
The pictures are examples of “creation” from my backyard (the lizard and flower) and Tulum (the beach).

Human Responsibility as Part of God’s Creation

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep,
while a wind from God swept over the waters
. (Gen 1.1)

The first book of the Old Testament goes on to describe how God gave light to the earth, followed by sky and dry land and vegetation. Stars and the moon were added, followed by living creatures of every kind. While theories abound as to the details of creation, from fundamentalist Christian beliefs that the Bible’s words provide a literal description of the order of creation and that God was involved in each step of the beginnings of our planet, to the widely accepted views that an orderly process occurred that resulted in what is our world today through what is known as evolution, they all seem to agree that where once was nothing, physical (science) events occurred that resulted in our planet, followed by biological (science) events that resulted in the plant and animal life on our planet, and only then did human life appear.

So God created humankind in his image…
Male and female he created them
. (Gen 1:27)

Regardless of the depth or scope of one’s belief regarding creation, all would agree that the physical elements of earth and the various plants and animals were present before humans appeared. This was necessary for people to survive. This made it possible to have places to live and food to eat. Without what is known today as the environment, and nature, we could not exist.

If one believes that God is the creator of the world, and that he created it as outlined in the book of Genesis, then we can assume that he had a reason for creating it in the way that he did, for creating everything else before he created humankind, and that is because these things are necessary for human existence. And it stands to reason that the creation of God would have been ideal for human existence. Likewise, if one believes in evolution with or without the guidance of God, it also stands to reason that humans would not, in fact, could not have evolved until conditions were ideal (I was wrong on this point, as pointed out by one of my brothers). Therefore, it can be reasoned that we should do as little as possible to change our environment, lest we make the conditions in which we live less than ideal for our survival.

This is especially important today, as we now have the ability to adversely affect our environment in so many ways. The advancing of civilization has resulted in reduced air quality and polluted streams and rivers, oil spills from transport tankers and offshore rigs that taint large areas of sea and shore.

Because of the continued demands of society coupled with the unchecked greed of businesspeople and corporations, we now have the ability to deplete our natural resources to a point from which recovery is not possible. Add to this the likelihood of nuclear or chemical terrorism and the widespread devastating effects on the environment that would result, and the prospects of permanent damage to our planet is heightened.

As Christians, what are our duties and responsibilities regarding the environment? The book of Genesis offers instruction. We have already seen that the earth and its flora and fauna were created before humans, and that this was necessary for our survival, but does that mean that the rest of creation belongs to us, that it is ours to do with as we please?

Certainly not. To begin with, we must accept that we are not apart from nature; rather we are a part of nature. The days (or years) of creation include the creation of humankind. God did not rest after he created the earth and its non-human inhabitants, the task was not finished. To complete the creation of the world, humans had to be added. Only then did God rest, only then was creation complete. We are a part of creation, a part of nature. Nature does not just surround us, nature includes us. Migliore (Daniel Migliore, Faith Seeking Understanding, An Introduction to Christian Theology) says that creation as described in the Bible portrays humans as “standing in organic relation to each other and to the world of nature.”

Second, God still cares for his creation, including, but not limited to, humans. Migliore asserts that God cares for all of creation and not just humans.

The heavens are telling the glory of God,
And the firmament proclaims his handiwork
. (Ps 19:1)

God blesses us, then tells us to “be fruitful and multiply” and gives us dominion over the “fish of the sea and over the birds of heaven and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” He gives us “every plant” and “every tree” and “every green plant” (Gen 1:28-30). Dominion implies control over or sovereignty, not just ownership. God put the rest of creation in the hands of humankind, to be taken care of.

Finally, we should realize that the physical earth, and the beings on it, the creation of God, is the tangible link between us and God. God put man and woman in a garden, and gave them the responsibility to “till it and keep it.” (Gen 2:16). In other words, humans are to take care of what God has provided for us, and keep or protect it, as we nurture our gardens and fields today so that they will keep producing. God gave man the birds and the creatures, and allowed man to name them. These were gifts from God, and we should to this day remember that the animals and birds around us, and the fish in the sea, and indeed all of nature, are a gift from God, an actual, tangible gift.

It is the responsibility of the church to instruct its members and guests regarding the creation and our responsibility in keeping it. The United Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches does not address environmental issues in their Statement of Faith or by-laws. Perhaps they should follow the example of the United Methodist Church which addresses environmental issues in their Social Principles. The section titled “The Natural World” affirms that the creation belongs to the Lord and that we are responsible for it. “Water, air, soil, minerals, energy, resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings.” It goes on to support social policies that are environmentally friendly, in regards to energy production and consumption, waste disposal and industry. Animal life is valued, and this is reflected as well by policies that support the preservation of species, the humane treatment of pets and domestic animals, and painless slaughter of meat animals.

The degree to which these principles are followed and taught by the United Methodist Church probably vary from one congregation to the next. In my personal experience, I have never seen these issues addressed by the church in meetings that included the congregation. The Social Principles are positions the Church has taken on sometimes controversial issues. “They are intended to be instructive and persuasive in the best of the prophet spirit” so it may be that their best use is as a reference when issues arise. It would be good if individual churches would present their position on environmental issues to their congregations in order to remind people that creation is the Lord’s, and also to raise awareness that the church is concerned about the natural world. This could be done with a periodic insert in the weekly newsletter or bulletin, and/or by encouraging a group to form that would promote the church’s positions.


The environment and the natural world are important to Christians as reflected, beginning with the very first verses of the Bible through history to the condition of the world today. Hopefully Christians will realize this in greater numbers and become a driving force in shaping local and national policies and not just be content with having their principles buried deep in a book that few read.