xml:space="preserve">

Our neighbor George, who has been studying the warming of the Earth recently, commented that he didn't feel most people, including religious people, take seriously how the creator, the creation, ourselves and our neighbors are in a "covenant relationship" — that is, they are all interconnected.

George makes a good point. If we accept the premise that "the earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it" (NRSV Psalm 19.1), then the creation and humans must work together to "glorify God." We must see God both in humans and in the creation. Remember that creation is not a static thing simply looking back several billion years. Rather, creation is dynamic because the God who created is still creating. We need to look at creation not from our viewpoint but from the viewpoint of the Creator.

Advertisement

What worries George, he continued, is that some people interpret the concept of human Earth "dominion" (Genesis 1.28, Psalm 8.4-5) as our right to subdue, exploit or even rape creation. We must begin to realize that the more we destroy the creation the more the creation will ultimately destroy us. That is beginning to happen even today. We often affirm God as our maker or creator in congregational worship while at the same time tragically participating in the slow but steady destruction of the Earth.

Would it help to see the Earth as a gift from a loving God? Biblically we are called to unwrap the gift and use it but not abuse it. Genesis records God as saying, "God saw everything that he had made and indeed it was very good" (1.31). According to Psalm 8, the Creator created humans as the ultimate act of creation and gave them dominion over the works of the Creator's hands. At the same time, this does not give us the right to have domination over the Earth, which God has created as a gift of love, through destruction.

Although respected scientists have affirmed the warming of the Earth, you don't have to even have a scientific background to see what is happening. Greenhouse gas emissions lead to rising temperatures. For example, in California and other Southwestern areas those rising temperatures have caused a mega-drought that will only get worse. The draining of aquifers and the loss of underground water complicates the problem. The danger of salmonella infection tends to increase as temperature gets warmer. Every year humans put billons of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Millions of children die every year from diseases that can be traced back to the environment. And the list goes on.

What complicates all of this is that, although signs of global warming are all around us, the effects of the change in climate are very gradual. This leads some to say that this is simply the Earth going through another warming trend. But if we buy into this argument we fail to take into consideration the destructive role humans have played over the past several hundred years. We no longer can simply stick our heads into the sand and pretend that it will all magically go away. For those who take their faith seriously, we should not live at the expense of God's creation — and yet that is happening.

We must continue to find a way to allow the Earth's resources to benefit humans without destroying either the resources or the humans. How can this be done? Power plants using fossil fuels produce the largest amount of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. We know this is harmful to the health of people. The Environmental Protection Agency has come up with a new Clean Power Plan to reduce more emissions. At the same time, concern has been raised that these new regulations will raise the cost of energy. With that increase, electricity rates might also rise, affecting low-income families, and there is the real possibility of low-wage jobs being cut. What do you think we should do?

Let the dialogue continue. I simply ask that you think on these things. By the way, I shared this concern with my neighbor George, and he said if you have grandchildren you already know what to do.

The Rev. Dr. Wm. Louis "Lou" Piel is pastor of Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Finksburg and can be reached at julo1@verizon.net.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement