Although there are no direct references to climate change in the Bible, we do have ample references to the necessity for us to accord justice, respect and dignity to fellow citizens of planet Earth. In addition, the laws set out for Israel in the Old Testament were applicable to Israelites, foreigners and strangers. In other words, everyone within the jurisdiction of Israel was covered by the duty of care demanded by the laws and regulations.
The Bible demands the protection of the poor and the weak. Mistreating the poor is seen as an affront to God. Falsehood is denounced by the Bible and false climate “solutions” must fall under this category of evil. False climate “solutions” can be seen as the reprehensible use of false scales which the Bible describes as abominable and disgusting.
Micah 6:10-12 (NLT)
What shall I say about the homes of the wicked filled with treasures gained by cheating?
What about the disgusting practice of measuring out grain with dishonest measures?
11 How can I tolerate your merchants who use dishonest scales and weights? 12 The rich among you have become wealthy through extortion and violence. Your citizens are so used to lying that their tongues can no longer tell the truth.
Humanity’s destructive bent is clearly demonstrated in the many senseless wars nations generate and promote. The damage done by modern warfare unveils the savagery of modern man. Warfare by remote control, and through the use of drones, make wars appear like playing mere video games. Bursts of explosions mean nothing to those who merely sit in comfortable locations to push buttons. Lives are decimated and the environment gets thrashed.
The Scriptures demand that humankind exercise care for the environment even in times of war. Consider this Bible passage:
Deuteronomy 20:19 (NLT)
When you are attacking a town and the war drags on, you must not cut down the trees with your axes. You may eat the fruit, but do not cut down the trees. Are the trees your enemies, that you should attack them?
In Genesis 1:27 When man was created, God made both male and female underscoring the fact that we are made to have relationships. That connection goes beyond peoples to include the entire creation.
We are enjoined to love God and to love our neighbours. Our neighbours include everyone and indeed all creation. The Bible says that all creation cries for redemption and yet rather than allow nature to enjoy some respite we thrash everything around us as if there would be no tomorrow.
Humans were placed in the Garden and given the task to care for and to tend it. To be a stewards.
The command to have dominion over nature often cited from Genesis 1:28 if properly understood does not urge destructive extractivism. The Bible does not give to humans a dominion to destroy. It was one of care. In fact the word is translated as “govern” in one translation of the Bible.
We remind ourselves that we are made in the image of God. The Bible at several places describes God as a shepherd. Jesus Christ himself declared that he came to serve and not to be served (Philippians). If we are made in the image of God it is fair to expect that we would live and care for nature, for God’s creation.
The Interdependence of species in nature is so clear to see. This can be tracked to the fact that we were made from the earth. Is it not awesome that we breathe in what trees breathe out? The burning of fossil fuels puts too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As a mark of respect for Mother Earth and in humanity’s interest it is time to leave fossil fuels in the soil and immediately halt opening of new oil and gas wells. Fracking, tar sands and shale gas extraction must be halted. And we must be honest to accept that there is nothing like “clean coal.”
God created the universe bit by bit. He paused after each act to review what had just been made or done. Indeed, each step was followed by a review. Before God rested he made a final evaluation and declared that all was very good. If we should stop to evaluate how we have related with Mother Earth, what would be the verdict? Would we say that everything is very good? How would we judge the huge amounts of climate changing carbon being emitted daily into the atmosphere? Would we applaud the many resource wars ongoing at various scales in parts of the world today? Would we be proud to present the false solutions driven by the urge to profit from disaster under the cover of geopolitical relations governed by “might is right”?
The truth is that humankind has been a poor steward over the planet. We have made the earth ugly and inhospitable.
Our penchant for falsehood allows us to pass off climate conflicts as religious wars. It is time to allow Mother Earth have a sabbath rest. It is time for the children of the planet to rise up in dignity and solidarity and refuse to allow men use religious cover to pitch otherwise peaceful neighbours against each other. People of faith have a duty to speak truth to power. Oppression, destructive extraction, pollution and diverse environmental despoliation are all manifestation of humanity’s loss of memory and wisdom that we are part of, and not apart from, nature.