Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Destroying the Earth

I find myself constantly horrified by the damage that humans are doing to the natural world - here's an article I spotted on the BBC a couple of days ago:

"The global abundance of vertebrates - the group that includes mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and fish - fell by about one-third between 1970 and 2006, the UN says."

The main point of this article is that biodiversity is being reduced to the point that it will soon have a noticeable negative impact on our economies.  My first reaction to this is that it's a terrible shame that it seems to be necessary to talk in terms of monetary value before business people and policy makers will consider the natural world to be worth taking care of.  It seems obvious to me that nature has an inherent value which is far greater than all of the money that could ever be made out of it.  However, since (unfortunately) this does appear to be necessary, I am glad that somebody is taking the time to do it.  At the same time though, I can't help thinking how stupid and short-sighted greed makes people - of course if you destroy your environment, on which you are completely dependent for life and raw materials, then your capacity for making money is sooner or later going to be reduced!  Not to mention your capacity for happiness and ultimately, for survival!

As a Christian I have less to fear than some, from the destruction of the natural world, but it hurts me perhaps more because I see in it an amazing reflection of the beauty, ingenuity and creativity of it's maker.  One day, according to the Bible, the world will be transformed - there will be "new heavens and a new earth".  I look forward hopefully to that day.  In the meantime though, we have a responsibility to look after the world we have now - for our own sakes, for the rest of humanity both now and in future generations, and for it's sake and the sake of God who made it and entrusted it to us.

Believing that this world is temporary, in no way excuses Christians for over-exploiting it - any more than believing that one day there will be no more sorrow, could excuse you for being unkind to someone!  Jesus once said, "Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come."  A similar statement could (pessimistically perhaps) be made about environmental destruction.

Finally, just in case there any Christians out there who are still not sure about this, the following is taken from one of the judgement scenes in the New Testament book of Revelation (chapter 11): "The time has come for judging the dead, and for rewarding your servants the prophets and your saints and those who reverence your name, both small and great— and for destroying those who destroy the earth" [my emphasis]!

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