A Bit to Read
The verdict is in. The UN sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has proof that the world’s temperatures are climbing, and so climate as a whole is changing. Less snow and cold for Canada’s north, more drought for Australia, more hurricanes for America, more heat waves for Europe; the polar ice caps are melting and so the ocean levels will rise and flood out the world’s low-lying areas, etc, etc. The cause of it all? The report is clear: it’s more than 90% certain that the cause of the problem is you and me and the 6 billion others of us on Planet Earth. We the people are throwing too much pollution into the atmosphere from our cars and our factories, and the result is that Planet Earth is baulking… Climate change, we’re told, is anthropogenic (wow, try to wrap your tongue around that one media favorite!); the term means that man has induced this climate change. That’s different than in the past, for climate change in the past has come about as a result of volcanoes or meteors or simply the normal cycles of nature. But this time the fault lies with people; the current climate change is man-induced.
I’m not a scientist. I’m not a position to dispute whether the world is actually warming up or not, and I’m not in a position either to debate whether the cause is anthropogenic. Like everybody else, I’m at the mercy of the experts.
But there something, I think, we do well to chew on over a cup of coffee.
It is a simple fact that the world’s 6 billion people are generating an enormous amount of pollution. I recall my father telling me that in his childhood there was no such thing as garbage. Today we churn out a barrel per family per week. A century ago there was no exhaust fumes from automobiles or airplanes. Today we belch it out by the thousands of tons per day. And then there’s the factories…, pushing themselves to keep up with the market’s demand for abundant and cheap commodities – and in the process the factories emit endless toxins into the atmosphere and into the waterways of our planet. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that pollution can’t be a good thing.
The Christian is going to do more than say so. Exactly because this world is God’s handiwork, created for His glory and entrusted to mankind’s care (Gen 2:15), is the Christian to treat God’s world with respect. Damage it he may not – no more than Adam was permitted to damage the Garden of Eden. If our standard of living is too demanding on the environment of which we’re a part, the Christian will
- Lower his standard of living so as not to damage the environment God has entrusted to his care, or
- Pull out all stops to develop technology that integrates his standard of living with the needs of the environment.
Either way, the Christian will not rest on his laurels.
I can’t prove or disprove a connection between the way mankind is living today and global warming. I can prove from the Word of God, though, that the child of God needs to be in the forefront of the campaign to care well for God’s world. In fact, the Christian needs to lead by example. And, as opportunity is there, the Christian needs to ensure that the land has laws to compel its citizens to respect the environment and to care for it.
There’s something else to chew on over a second cup of coffee, and that’s the relation between unbelief and climate change. Consider the following:
- If today rain would fall “on the earth forty days and forty nights” (Genesis 7:12) so that the entire earth was covered with water (as in Noah’s flood), we’d surely be speaking of climate change! And we’re to note: the flood of Genesis 7 was anthropogenic, was man-induced. Said the Lord to Noah: “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark…” (Genesis 6:12-14). Point: here’s a direct connection between sin and weather, or climate change if you will.
- The Lord’s hand pressed upon Egypt so that plagues of gnats, plagues of flies, plagues of hail, plagues of locusts, even blackest darkness beset the land. What weather systems did the Lord use to bring plagues of gnats upon Egypt? And plagues of flies? And devastating hail (in a land that ‘never’ received hail)? And locusts? To say nothing of darkness? As we consider the pine beetle plague in BC, we readily acknowledge that warmer winters play a role. This much is clear: there’s a direct connection between Egypt’s sin and the weather conditions that make gnats, flies, and locusts multiply, and the climate that brings hail to a land of no rain.
- In His covenant with Israel the Lord said, “If you follow My decrees and are careful to obey My commands, I will send you rain in its season…. But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands…, I will … make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze” (Leviticus 26:3f; 14, 19). Again, the Lord sets a direct link between people’s conduct and climate change.
- In keeping with His promise in Leviticus 26, the Lord shut the heavens in the days of King Ahab’s apostasy and granted no rain for 3½ years. Only when Elijah prayed did the Lord grant rain. Talk about weather/climate being anthropogenic!
- The plagues of the book of Revelation echo the link between human behavior and God’s blessings or curse. Rev 8 speaks of hail and of a third of the grass being burned up (vs 7). It speaks too of the sun being struck and of a third of the day turning dark (vs 12). Rev 16 speaks of the sun receiving power to “scorch people with fire” so that they cursed God on account of the “intense heat” (vs 8f). Yet, the passage continues, “they refused to repent and glorify Him” (vs 9). Once more, “from the sky huge hailstones of about a hundred pounds each fell upon men. And they cursed God on account of the plague of hail” (16:21). God’s curses come, we realize, because of man’s disobedience. Again, here’s a link between people’s behavior and climate.
What it all means? If people would speak of a link between human conduct and climate change, let them do more than seek improved technology and establish emission controls (necessary as these things might be). Let people also acknowledge that the Lord God has put all things under Jesus’ feet, and that includes the climate. The Lord of lords must rule according to the norms of God’s Word, and that includes bestowing blessing on obedience, and curse on disobedience. That the western world as a culture has and is rejecting God and cutting Him and His laws out of our civilization’s worldview is beyond dispute. Yet God is not mocked; our civilization must invariably taste that He remains faithful – and so pours out His punishments. That can include climate change, with all the consequences thereof.
What it all means? Our Savior is King of the world still, and He is faithful in the way He leads history – including bringing about a ‘climate change’ in response to human arrogance. Let the child of God, then, not get discouraged in the face of the IPCC’s doom-and-gloom report. Let him rather be encouraged by the evidence of the Lord’s faithfulness. And let the child of God be the more diligent in caring for God’s world in a manner pleasing to God.
2 February 2007