Several days ago, on April 22nd, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Each year we designate a day to really heighten awareness of the environment and the world that we live in. In conjunction with this day, there are also several new television programs that have been on PBS that have helped create an increased awareness of what we face with climate change and the potential destruction of our world if we don’t do a better job of reducing our carbon footprint.
Although I have been conscious of the world around us, and have tried to be careful about trash, social responsibility and other timely matters, I have never been one of those folks who plans to live off the grid – and I have never bought an electric car or put up solar panels for energy.
I do enjoy watching the programs filmed in Alaska that tell the stories of the lifestyles of people who live completely off the land. They hunt, live off solar energy, make their own products to furnish their homes, fish, trap and build their homes to withstand the brutal winters they face in our northernmost state. But I never see myself adopting that sort of lifestyle.
I was, however, deeply impacted by some of the statistics that were quoted in one of the programs I watched. Sir David Attenborough, who was narrating the Climate Change documentary, noted that the surface temperature of the earth has risen 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit (1.5 degrees Centigrade) within the last 100 years and this increase has caused all kinds of issues that I hadn’t thought of. He went on to say that we could add another 2.7 degrees by 2050 if we aren’t careful and this increase could cause irreversible damage.
The melting of the polar ice caps has raised the sea level and not only that, but the higher temperature has also caused the water in the oceans to expand – resulting in higher shorelines and the erosion or elimination of significant land masses. In Louisiana, one community has lost 90% of the land mass that was present 50 years ago. Now, most of the land in the area is under water.
Our deforestation of the rainforests in South America has caused the carbon dioxide layer surrounding the earth to increase and has also caused the temperature to rise globally. Of course, it was suggested that renewable power sources, such as solar panels and wind turbines, are the wave of the future and will be cheaper than using atomic reactors to create electricity.
I see those wind turbines around the countryside but I never realized that one revolution of an offshore wind turbine generates enough energy to power a single home for a day. Currently, about 64% of parts of Great Britain depend on renewable energy.
I also never realized that coral reefs are dying due to warmer oceans and that even land animals are having a tough time adapting to the warming of our planet. Deserts are getting hotter and drier and the rate of change in our climate is happening faster than animals can cope with. Species will be forever extinct if this trend is not reversed. And I haven’t even addressed massive fires, flooding and other severe climatic events.
The good news is that there is still hope but things must change rather quickly – certainly things can’t stay the same or temperatures will accelerate at an ever increasing rate. I guess I never realized how fragile our planet is. But, thinking about all this, God’s creation is something that was created for us to steward and take care of. We haven’t done a very good job… but that’s not new news for most of us.
If we want to make sure that we leave a healthy planet to our children and grandchildren, we must do a better job with our planet. Our verse for tonight speaks to this very issue. God, our Creator, is referenced in regards to the earth countless times in the Scripture. We are told, in 1 Chronicles 16:30-31, “Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let them say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!”
My encouragement this evening is that God gave us a precious gift of the earth and He wants us to take care of it as good stewards. My prayer is that we will all be more aware of the fragile nature of God’s gift to us and that will do a better job taking care of the planet, the animals and all that we have been given dominion over. Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…