Whether you take the Creation Story literally, believe God created the Big Bang or have another theory, Genesis tells us that God created all that is. And one does not have to look far to realize the amazing intricacies and magnificence of nature as a confirmation of this.
The earth is full of the glory of God. It is given to us to see, to hear, to taste, to touch, to smell and to enjoy. Thus, when you see the glorious sunsets, it is not just a thing of beauty, it is the Lords way of seducing us or calling us to himself. Likewise, the cool breeze stirring the trees, the birds that we see coasting on the air and the music they bring to us. The color and taste of food is all about seduction; it is the Lord calling to us and is part of what it means for God to be one with us, Emmanuel. The more we recognizes the presence of the Lord via our senses, the greater is the context of the gospel understood.
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Gen 1:24)
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food…. everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so. (Gen 1:29-30)
All of it is ours, not only for our enjoyment but for our sustenance which means we need to maintain it to survive. This is something that we have increasingly neglected to do, either through ignorance or greed, until we are on the brink of world-wide food deprivation as you will see later in this article. And renewable energy alone isn’t going to solve the problem; in fact, it may create new problems as will be explained shortly.
What Have We Done to God’s Garden?
According to David Attenburrough in his film “A Life on Our Planet”, our impact is global. Our assault on the planet has come to alter the fundamentals of the living world.
- We are experiencing the fastest warming of the earth in the last 10,000 years. The oceans can’t absorb the excess heat caused by our activities. Sea ice in the Arctic has reduced by 40% in 40 years. Carbon that we’ve already put into the atmosphere will take decades to centuries to reduce. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution in 1750 we have put 1000 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Reducing emissions alone will do little to remove it.
- We’ve overfished 30% of fish stocks to critical levels.
- We cut down 15 billion trees each year.
- By damming, polluting, and over extracting rivers and lakes we’ve reduced the size of freshwater populations by over 80%.
- 1/2 of fertile land on earth is farmland, which typically eliminates biodiversity.
- 70% of birds on the planet our domestic birds – mostly chickens.
- 60% of the animals on earth we raise to eat.
- Since the 1950s our wild animal population has been more than cut in half. We replace the wild with the tame.
The planet is run by humans for humans – there is little left for the rest of the living world. We have nearly destroyed the nonhuman world. If we continue our current trajectory:
- The Amazon rainforest will become a dry savanna, resulting in a loss of species and the water that is contributed to the global water cycle. 60% of our rain come from the oceans, 40% from smaller inland water cycles. We are losing these microclimates.
- The Arctic will become ice free in the summer, therefore less of the sun’s energy will be reflected out to space. Without the reflection from the polar caps global warming will increase. In the North, frozen soils will thaw releasing methane, a greenhouse gas more potent than carbon dioxide, exacerbating climate change dramatically.
- As oceans heat and become more acidic, coral reefs will die and fish populations will crash.
- Global food production will enter a crisis as soils are overused. Pesticides are causing pollinating insects to disappear. According to the UN the world’s remaining topsoil will be gone within 60 years. So, in other words, we have 60 harvests left. As fertile farmland turns to dirt, the disappearing water evaporation produced by plants will cause weather to become more and more unpredictable.
- The earth will become 4C degrees (39F) warmer resulting in regions becoming uninhabitable. 2/3 of the earth is turning to dessert with 40,000,000 people every year being pushed off their land as a result. Poor land leads to poor people, increased flooding and droughts, mass migration across borders and into cities and ideal conditions for recruitment. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be 1 billion refugees due to soil desertification. This is the beginning of a 6th mass extinction.
The Important Role of Soil
Erosion is caused by plowing and tilling the soil. Historically, civilizations have died because they’ve overworked the land around them. In the 1930s the United States experienced the worst environmental disaster in history (the Dust Bowl), as 200 million acres of cropland was permanently damaged. President Franklin D Roosevelt started the soil conservation service, now part of the Department of Agriculture. The division is called the National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS).
As the NRCS teaches farmers, carbon is pulled out of the atmosphere by plants. 40% of that carbon goes to the roots which feed the microorganisms and goes into the soil where a universe of life exists. In every handful of soil there are more organisms than the number of people who were ever lived on earth. And this healthier soil holds and uses the greenhouse gases creating healthy plants without chemicals. With healthier plants you have healthier animals and humans. The plants also increase the rainfall cycles which creates a more consistent climate.
Our health and the health of our planet are connected. We humans are made up of 99% organisms. Taking care of organisms in soil, the source of our nourishment, is connected to human health. Toxic chemicals put on soil causes them to be almost devoid of microorganisms. Makes you wonder what our food is putting into our bodies. Since chemical agriculture ramped up in the 1970s there has been a worldwide loss of 1/3 of the earth’s topsoil. As soil is turned into dirt, carbon dioxide goes back to the atmosphere, especially in the spring when fields are tilled as evidenced by NASA photographs from space. Desertification is the result – when fertile land is turned into desert.
Some say we will never be able to remove the CO2 that we have already caused. But through drawdown agriculture, it is possible. Project Drawdown estimates that regenerative agricultural practices such as the NRCS teaches, could be practiced on up to 332 million hectares by 2050 (from 11.84 million hectares today), which would result in a reduction of up to 22.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide, with an enormous return of financial investments.
If we can achieve drawdown (pulling CO2 back into the soil through regeneration) by planting farms and trees without pesticides and nitrates we can grow more food per acre and expect the beginning of climate cooling in 20 years. And farmers can make more money without government subsidies.
What Else Can We Do to Restore God’s Garden?
We can restore biodiversity everywhere.
The world cannot function without a healthy ocean. it’s a critical ally in reducing carbon in the atmosphere and the more diversity the better it does that job. The ocean is important as a source of food. If we do fishing right, it will continue to be. Coral reefs are important for fish populations so they must be protected. No fishing zones over 1/3 of the world’s coasts will allow fish to increase and spillover to fishing zones thereby providing all the fish we will need.
As nations develop, people choose to have fewer children as can be seen in Japan during the second half of the 20th century. By raising people out of poverty, giving everyone access to health care and keeping girls in school longer, we can make the world-wide population peak sooner and at a lower level. This improves the global standard of living without increasing human impact on the earth.
We can reduce areas needed for farming by changing our diet. When we choose meat, we are demanding a huge expanse of space to raise the animals. If we had a plant-based diet, we would only need half of the land used today and we could increase the yield through education. The Netherlands have multiplied food production by 10 while using less water, fertilizer, and pesticides. They are now the world’s second largest exporter of food while using less land.
We can reverse the land grab. Forests are necessary for locking carbon and are centers for biodiversity. 100 years ago, Costa Rica consisted of 3/4 forest. In the 1980s logging reduce that to ¼. The government offered grants to plant native trees and it only took 25 years for forests to cover 1/2 of Costa Rica. Imagine if this were done on a global scale. Some say that the planet would absorb 2/3 of the CO2 that we have created by our activities to date.
We can phase out fossil fuels and move to solar, wind, geothermal and waterpower. Morocco now generates 40% of their power from renewable power plants – in the 1900s the country solely used oil and gas energy. They now have the world’s largest solar farm. With renewable energy we will never run out and cities will be quieter and cleaner. But there are some concerns.
Are Renewable Energy Sources the Best We Can Do?
Problems with renewable wind and solar energy include environmental issues related to the transmission lines running from the solar & turbine fields to the cities and the amount of land needed for the fields. Renewables have been resisted by conservation biologists concerned about the large birds, bats, and other animals. To build a solar farm you must clear whole areas of any animals. It is estimated that 6000 birds are killed every year over solar fields because their catch on fire.
Wind and solar energy can only provide electricity for 20- 30% of the year. The variability of solar and wind production will require a supplement of natural gas, which increases carbon emissions, or hydroelectric.
Solar and wind electricity is more expensive than nuclear as noted by the 4x increase in cost to California residents as compared to the rest of the US and Germany. France, on the other hand, uses 75% nuclear power, which is more reliable.
But are nuclear plants safe and what do we do with the waste? You may remember the nuclear power plant fiascos at Chernobyl and Japan. However, with technological improvements scientific studies that have been conducted over the past 40 years now say that nuclear energy is the safest. According to the WHO, 7 million people die each year from air pollution. Nuclear plants do not emit any pollution. Uranium fuel is energy dense and therefore more efficient and takes up less space. You don’t need much land for a nuclear plant. Solar energy fields require 17 times the space and 17 times the materials to generate the same power as a nuclear plant. According to Michael Shellenberger in his Ted Talk, the waste from nuclear power only fills a room the size of an auditorium.
Another concern is that when solar panels reach the end of their life it is expected that they will end up being shipped to poor countries as are expired electronics. There are toxic elements in the solar panels that will be difficult to get rid of.
What Can You Do?
- Compost to enrich the soil
- Plant trees
- Don’t overfish
- If you are a farmer, stop tilling / plowing the soil but use regenerative techniques instead
- Conserve biodiversity
- Don’t pollute water
- Reduce poverty and provide health care to reduce the population stress on the planet
- Convert to a plant-based diet
- Buy organically grown wherever possible (for the health of your body & planet)
Just choose 1 or 2 that you feel you can work toward and share this post with your friends so they can do the same. Together we can make a difference.
Nature is our biggest ally in the fight against global warming and food deprivation. If we take care of nature, it will take care of us. We need to live not apart from nature but to be a part of nature. This is about saving ourselves. God gave us all that we need to do so. It is up to us to be good stewards of those gifts.
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1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was chaos and waste, darkness was on the surface of the deep, and the Ruach Elohim was hovering upon the surface of the water.
3 Then God said, “Let there be light!” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good. So God distinguished the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness He called “night.” So there was evening and there was morning—one day.
6 Then God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of the water! Let it be for separating water from water.” 7 So God made the expanse and it separated the water that was below the expanse from the water that was over the expanse. And it happened so. 8 God called the expanse “sky.” So there was evening and there was morning—a second day. 9 Then God said, “Let the water below the sky be gathered to one place. Let the dry ground appear.” And it happened so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the collection of the water He called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.
11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so. 12 The land produced vegetation: plants bearing seed according to their kinds and trees bearing fruit with seed in it according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good. 13 And there was evening, and there was morning—the third day.
14 Then God said, “Let lights in the expanse of the sky be for separating the day from the night. They will be for signs and for seasons and for days and years. 15 They will be for lights in the expanse of the sky to shine upon the land.” And it happened so. 16 Then God made the two great lights—the greater light for dominion over the day, and the lesser light as well as the stars for dominion over the night. 17 God set them in the expanse of the sky to shine on the land 18 and to have dominion over the day and over the night and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good. 19 So there was evening and there was morning—a fourth day.
20 And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the vault of the sky.” 21 So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living thing with which the water teems and that moves about in it, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. 22 God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” 23 And there was evening, and there was morning—the fifth day.
24 And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. 25 God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.
26 Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
27 So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
29 Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. 30 And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
31 God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day. (Gen 1)
Honest, revealing, and urgent, DAVID ATTENBOROUGH: A LIFE ON OUR PLANET (2020) is a powerful first-hand account of humanity’s impact on nature and a message of hope for future generations. Created by award-winning natural history filmmakers Silverback Films and global conservation organization WWF. As of Dec 2020, this movie was available on Netflix. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11989890
Narrated and featuring Woody Harrelson, Kiss the Ground is an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals the first viable solution to our climate crisis. Kiss the Ground reveals that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. As of Dec 2020, this movie was available on Netflix. https://kissthegroundmovie.com
Why Renewables Can’t Save the Planet – (Ted Talk) by Michael Shellenberger https://youtu.be/N-yALPEpV4w