I used to marvel at how foolish an organism is cancer. It can’t seem to pace itself. Left to its own devices, it will greedily consume its host until the host dies, thereby causing the cancer’s own premature death.
Then, one day I had an epiphany. We’re like cancer. Unable to pace ourselves, we are greedily consuming our host organism (i.e. planet Earth) and getting dangerously close to killing ourselves in the process.
The difference is that cancer has an excuse: No brain.
Consider that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has issued one of its most sobering reports to date. The hundreds of scientists and scores of nations participating in the project paint an apocalyptic future of flooding, drought, disease and food shortages. In the face of such a crisis, one might expect people of faith to flock to the cause of protecting the environment. After all, the theological issue appears a simple one. “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. The world and all that dwell in it!” proclaims Psalm 24:1. The earth is on loan. God owns it, and we are God’s caretakers or “stewards,” according to the Bible.
Despite all that, and the fact that 90% of us say we believe in God, most Americans appear reluctant to begin making the sacrifices necessary to address global warming. Evangelical Christian leaders in particular seem to be dragging their heels. So, why the hesitation? Why aren’t more Christians trading their SUVs for hybrids, turning down the thermostat and writing letters to Congress?
First, our political loyalties get in the way. Evangelical Christians tend to vote Republican, and party leaders such as the president and vice president have been outspoken in their skepticism about the urgency of the global climate crisis.
Then, there’s money. In the short run at least, it simply costs more to go green. Hybrid cars, fluorescent bulbs and alternative energy sources don’t come cheap. Until substantial government incentives or market forces change that equation, many Americans will opt to save a buck rather than the environment.
There’s also the fact that for many Christians, the Bible appears contradictory on the subject of global warming. Didn’t Jesus say there would be wars and rumors of wars, famine and earthquakes before he could return? Isn’t that exactly what the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is predicting? For millions of Christians, the world’s downward spiral into political and ecological chaos may appear a necessary prerequisite to the second coming of Christ.