I saw an Inconvenient Truth when it first came out in 2005. I was inspired then – but left feeling like I hadn’t heard anything new from when I was an environmental studies major at Baylor University.
At the Stewardship of the Earth luncheon today with Al Gore at the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant, I had a much stronger reaction – what I would term a response to the call to action, a renewing of my faith and my resolve that Creation Care is the appropriate response to the Gospel.
Gore told us that in Japanese, there are two characters for the word “crisis”: danger and opportunity. In the few years since the movie came out, the climate change has become a greater crisis.
We have the great opportunity, then, to do things better. Climate change is a moral and ethical issue. It is not a theory to debate philosophically.
I was an environmental studies major. I am an environmentalist. For two main reasons:
One) I believe that God created the heavens and the earth and said it was GOOD. And God created us to be stewards of the Creation.
Two) Stewardship of the earth, care of creation, means care of all creation: including those created in God’s OWN IMAGE.
This is what I was convicted of again through Al Gore’s presentation: Climate Change affects the poor and downtrodden the most significantly, and they are LEAST responsible for it.
If we are to love our neighbor, then we MUST be engaged in changing policies and attitudes towards the global climate. The world is waiting for us, the ONLY developed country not to join in the Kyoto Protocol, to be the world leader we claim to be. A new world compact on climate change is in the works, and the US can choose to be a partner to help reverse the impacts of global climate change. If you don’t think that policies on climate change matter, look at this picture of the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. You can see the complete devastation of deforestation in Haiti (where the per capita GDP is $713 and civil unrest due to poverty is rampant) on the left. On the right is the Dominican Republic where they have chosen to use their environmental resources as an economic asset, thus preserving their forests. This is an example of exposing the fallacy that protecting the environment and economic success are at odds (another theme Gore touched on).
Al Gore presented the scientific facts (you can look them up, watch the video, watch an Inconvenient Truth). But he also presented Biblical foundations and facts about the effect of climate change on humanity. Over 70% of the world gets its water supply from the 7 rivers whose source is the Himalayan glaciers. These are melting, changing the availability of water, creating alternate drought and flood events, and significantly impacting the ability of the poor of these areas to access water.
The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The environment is not a singular issue that we can choose to avoid if it doesn’t fit our particular ‘mission’. Creation care affects every single other aspect of our lives and our ministries. To ignore the Creation and the effects of humanity on it (and on the rest of humanity), I believe significantly hinders the Gospel.
This is a problem that is solvable- the money, the technology, the commitment. Well, mostly on the commitment. We need the political will- as Americans we are responsible for 30% of the CO2 emissions in the world, which is more than the rest of the world except for Europe combined. Since we are part of the problem, we CERTAINLY must be part of the solution. We need to respond to this call—to be stewards of the Creation, entrusted to us by the Creator.
This guest commentary was written by Alexis Cooper, Young Adult Coordinator, Texas Baptist Young Professional Network, BGCT Christian Life Commission