The New York Times published some terrifying graphics portraying the impact humanity has had on the world’s oceans. (HT – John Naughton’s Memex). This is chilling (click on images to find the others).


Of course, we’re talking big brush strokes here and all stats generate lesser or greater degrees of suspicion. Of course greeno-phobes and enviro-doubters abound – and one or two of them are actually good friends (and may even be reading this – hi chaps!). But whatever the specifics, the reality of a negative human impact on the globe can’t be disputed. Whether or not that means global warming or cooling (à la The Day After Tomorrow) – or even something ‘worse’ – will be the result, is for the experts. But should this be a concern of Christians? Absolutely.


In fact, we should be more concerned about it than anybody! Because we believe in a Creator God (who may have made the universe in 6 days or several million years – I err towards the latter but who cares in the end how he did it – all that matters from my point of view is THAT he did it), we have the deepest understanding of the value and significance of the universe of any worldview. We believe it was made good and ordered – God was chuffed to bits with it. And he gave us his creatures in his image a job. And boy, have we botched the job!? Nightmare. It’s just that it is only in recent decades that we have begun to grasp more fully the extent and horror of the damage done. Post-industrial revolution and exponential population growth, the damage is accelerating – and thus processes which perhaps have taken place over centuries and millennia (such as the extinction of individual species) only take decades. In fact, I’d suggest, (controversially, I realise), that it is only a Christian worldview which really begins to explain both the tragedy of what we’ve done and why we’ve done it.


And finally, it is only a Christian worldview that gives any authentic and realistic confidence for the future. It is not enough simply to say – oh well, it doesn’t matter since God’s going to blow it all up in the end! Quite apart from the fact that this doesn’t seem to do justice to the complex eschatological diversity of the bible, it is also misunderstands what it means to live as God-shaped people in the present.


But I’m the first to acknowledge that looking at these sorts of maps generates a sense of helplessness if not hopelessness. In fact, I can hardly bear to keep watching when the news shows yet more footage of ice shelfs collapsing. I simply don’t know where to start. I’m not going to be able to take on the big shipping companies – and I’m reluctant to because i actually really like bananas, for example. But big journeys start with small steps… As human beings we really ought to be concerned about our fragile little planet. As Christians, I’d suggest, we MUST be concerned.
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  1. drfrank

    Another Quaerentia post of substantive and immediate concern. I sadly share much of the anxiety expressed here and, in the spirit of hopefulness, would merely like to like to suggest that there are practical ways to engage the massive and perhaps overwhelming complexity of the situation.

    A good start is getting informed when making decisions at the ballot box and shop check-out; and, developing one’s awareness and quality of engagement with one’s surroundings – and one’s interactions with others, be they human or what some call ‘more-than-human’ – on a daily basis. Do I at least register in my mind that I share the planet with other creatures, who don’t speak human, when I’m at my desk writing responses to someone else’s blog, for example?

    I find it significant that Jesus often drew on ‘more-than-human’ imagery in his parables – lillies of the field, birds of the air, tree of life, thirst-quenching water etc. I suggest we should follow his example by developing a similarly ‘ecological’ consciousness. One can’t persuade people into having particular emotions, but one can tickle their fancies, influence the contexts in which conversations take place, and try to engage imaginations.

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