Twenty years ago, a U.S. Senate committee heard testimony on climate change from NASA climatologist James Hansen. He told the committee that "the greenhouse effect has been detected, and it is changing our climate now."
Hansen's landmark testimony triggered an avalanche of research, political debate and environmental activism that continues to this day. However, there are concerns about where all of this is taking us. Some believe there is a dark side to environmentalism that is beginning to overshadow the good work of those who simply wish to take care of our natural resources.
The two extremes
As in every aspect of life, there are extremes in the way people view the environment. Some greedy businesspeople couldn't care less about the damage they do to the earth. At the other extreme, ecoterrorists seem not to care about people and destruction of property.
Groups such as the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) have claimed responsibility for multiple acts of ecoterrorism during the past decade, including the recent destruction of three luxury homes near Seattle, Washington, with damages totaling $7 million. Ironically, these homes and the surrounding housing developments were designed to be environmentally friendly.
Said Gary Perlstein, professor emeritus at Portland State University, "This is more than an environmental issue to them, this is an issue of faith" (quoted by Jennifer Langston, "Shadowy ELF Saboteurs May Be on the Rise Again," The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, March 4, 2008). But this type of faith is not pleasing to God, putting the creation above the Creator and His laws (Romans 1:25).
As disturbing as this is, some believe that misguided government policies may actually do more damage to both the world economy and the environment than the crusades of ecoterrorists. For example, subsidies for corn ethanol are driving up the price of food around the world and pushing millions of poor people into hunger. Such reactionary policies can have unintended consequences.
Taking care of the earth is certainly an honorable cause, but sadly, the many dangers threatening human survival seem beyond human solution. In addition to the dual challenges of gaining consensus over whether man has indeed caused global warming and what we should be doing about it, many question whether our efforts can have a significant effect. However, the ultimate fate of the planet is already determined. At least that's what our Creator says.
According to the Bible, a time of divine judgment is coming on the earth because of humanity's disobedience to God's instructions. Revelation 8:7 states that a third of the earth will be burned up, including a third of the trees.
More destruction will follow, including massive pollution of the world's water supply, pestilence, cosmic disturbances and global war. The extreme nature of these punishments is in keeping with the extreme destructiveness of humanity. The Bible shows that unless God intervenes to stop the process, the human race will be completely destroyed (Matthew 24:22).
The good news is that Jesus Christ will return to the earth at that very moment to establish a new world order. He and His servants will help to restore not only the earth's ecological systems, but also the lives of those who have lived through such devastation.
With this in mind, perhaps we should ask ourselves if we have been taking care of our spiritual environment. Do we have pollution problems in our minds caused by unbiblical ideas we have accepted? Is our source of renewable spiritual energy being depleted by an immoral and self-destructive lifestyle? Have we learned to think and live the way Jesus Christ taught? Addressing these issues is even more important to our survival than "going green" when we consider the eternal consequences of our spiritual choices.
Advocating sound energy policies and environmental practices is certainly important to God. The Bible states that God put man in charge of the earth, to take care of it (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). We therefore have a responsibility to meet God's expectations by taking reasonable measures to protect what He has made.
However, it is only a matter of time before humanity's downward spiral leads God to decide that the time is right to fulfill the major prophecies recorded by the Hebrew prophets and the apostle John in the book of Revelation. Before that time comes, responding to God's calling and then remaining faithful to His instructions will stand us in very good stead with our Creator.
Even though God already has a plan in place for saving our planet, He still expects us to care for it in a balanced way as we prepare for the time when the Kingdom of God will be established here on earth. Then human actions and hearts will be changed in order to restore God's green earth to its former glory. VT