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Environmental Stewardship

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Environmental Stewardship After scanning the headlines, obituaries, and world news sections, a wife tosses her Sunday newspaper into the wastebasket. Moments later, when her husband sees the discarded newspaper and inquires about the scores from last night’s ball game, she quickly pulls up The New York Times application on her smartphone to recite the information he is looking for. In another home, a young boy squeals with delight as he discovers Styrofoam peanuts were used to package the birthday gift that his grandmother had shipped to him. A group of teens toss their soda cans into the garbage after the high school football game. Scenes similar to these play out around the world every day, and un-necessary waste is being created. When creating the earth, God provided for human beings a beautiful dwelling place equipped with all the resources needed for survival. In Genesis 2:15, God’s intention for man to care for the earth is revealed when He puts Adam “…in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (NIV). The condition of the earth today and the declining availability of natural resources speaks of the careless ways of past and present generations in regards to the environment. In being a good steward of God’s creation, Christians bear the responsibility of working to reduce waste and educating others about the importance of environmental preservation. The Environmental Protection Agency defines waste as, “Any garbage or refuse, sludge from a wastewater treatment plant, water supply treatment plant, or air pollution control facility and other discarded material, including solid, liquid, semi-solid, or contained gaseous material resulting from industrial, commercial, mining, agricultural operations, and from community activities.” Waste comes in many forms and creates devastating turmoil within nature. It is noted in the 2014 Living Planet Report that the welfare of both human beings and wildlife are being threatened because of Earth not being able to refurbish natural resources as quickly as they are being consumed (http://www.footprintnetwork.org, 2014). Global warming is another concern that stems from waste. A statement given by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “projects an increase in the global temperature of 1.8 – 4 degrees C by the end of this century, which will lead to potentially massive consequences, especially to the most vulnerable, poor and disadvantaged people who contribute to climate change to a lesser extent,” and should be especially convicting of Christians (ecocycle.org, 2007). Even those who question the responsibility of caring for the environment acknowledge the Christian’s duty to care for one another. It is easy to see that it is not only the earth at stake, as if the earth alone is not reason enough to take action, but the welfare of wildlife and humankind are also being affected. In response to the declining state of the environment, there are several steps Christians can take to reduce waste. Recycling is a great place to start to cutting down on waste. Saving paper, plastics, electronics, and glass to take to a recycling center, reusing items when possible, not buying disposable items or individually packaged items, and composting are all common ways that people can recycle. Carpooling to reduce the fuel or using public transportation when possible cuts down on greenhouse gas emissions. It is necessary for Christians to make efforts within their homes and personal lives, as well as implement recycling policies within their businesses to make the largest impact. The next step would be for believers to work to inform and educate others (both fellow believers as well as non-believers) about the importance of waste reduction. It has been reported that each year, a savings of 406 megatons of carbon dioxide equivalent is possible through recycling and composting ninety percent of waste, and cutting out one percent. This would be comparable to closing twenty one percent of America’s power plants that are coal fired (Platt, Ciplet, Bailey, &Lombardi, 2008). Information such as this needs to be distributed in order for others to get involved in waste reduction efforts. Some have argued that the care of the earth is not a Christian’s responsibility. In his article, “Environmentalism: A Modern Idolatry,” Kevin Clausen contends that Christians and non-Christians alike are making an idol out of the environment and its care (1990). Clausen believes that environmentalist could be making false claims about the harm in pollution, deforestation, pesticides, and overpopulation, nor does he believe that global warming is even a problem. He exerts the idea that caring for the environment actually defies Christian culture (Clausen, 1990). Others believe that because God is all powerful and because His grace is bigger than any sin, and that in the end, God’s will always prevails, thus, the earth is at man’s disposal. This group of people believe that if the earth is destroyed, that being the all-powerful God that He is, He will grant another one (Wells, 2012). God surely is all-powerful, and His grace does surpass and sin that mankind can commit, giving both of this view some validity. In determining God’s intentions for the relationship between the earth and mankind, the Bible is the best reference, as it is indisputable. As stated earlier, Genesis 2:15 clarifies that God charged man to responsibly oversee the earth (NIV). Man, of course, can make an idol out of nature, as man can make an idol out of virtually anything. But the reality of man’s sinful nature does not give the Christian the authority to reject the Lord’s original intent for man to govern the land on the basis that some may, and even have idolized the environment. This should merely encourage believer’s to do so responsibly, which should be assumed in the first place. David declares in Psalm 24:1 that, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (NIV). It is not the right of mankind to destroy what belongs to the Lord. As far as the actuality of environmental issues, numerous studies have been performed by NASA and others that give explicit data, showing changes in the climate as well as links between the said changes and deforestation, pollution, and other variants (NASA, 2015). Caring for the environment is an act of obedience; it is being a good steward of the beautiful creation God supplied for mankind to indwell. 75,000 trees are used for the production of one Sunday edition of The New York Times (University of Colorado Environmental Center, n.d.). That number seems even bigger when considering how easily accessible the paperless version of the same publication. Present and future generations need to be educated and prepared to preserve and restore the condition of the earth. It is a believer’s duty to understand and make known to others the connection between Biblical obedience and caring for the Lord’s creation. Most of all, it is the Christian’s duty to themselves be pro-active in waste reduction.

References
Clausen, K. (1990). Environmentalism: A modern idolatry. Retrieved from http://www.reformed.org/webfiles/antithesis/index.html?mainframe=/webfiles/antithesis/ v1n2/ant_v1n2_environ.html
Global Footprint Network. (2014). Humanity’s demand on nature climbs as biodiversity suffers major decline. Retrieved from http://www.footprintnetwork.org/en/ index.php/GFN/page/living_planet_report2/
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. (2007). Climate change. (p.14) Retrieved from http://www.ecocycle.org/files/pdfs/Eco-CycleEnvironmentalFacts.pdf
NASA. (2015). Climate change: How do we know? Retrieved from http://climate.nasa.gov/evidence/ Platt, B., Ciplet, D., Bailey, K., Lombardi, E. (2008). Stop trashing the climate. (p. 1). Retrieved from http://compostingcouncil.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Stop-Trashing-the- Climate.pdf
University Of Colorado Environmental Center. (n.d.). Recycling Facts. Retrieved from http://www.colorado.edu/ecenter/recycling-facts
Wells, S. (2012). Let earth and heaven agree. (p. 3). Retrieved from http://divinityarchive.com/bitstream/handle/11258/5793/samuel-wells-let-earth-and- heaven-agree.pdf?sequence=1…...

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