Sandra Ketcham in her List of 30 Environmental Concerns outlined thetop 5 public concerns which are the following: 1) contamination of drinking water, 2) water pollution, 3) soil contamination, 4) wildlife conservation, and 5) air pollution (Ketcham). Even though different authors can stress various problems according to the degrees of importance they attach to them, the above concerns appear quite serious. In general, environmental issues were of extreme importance in the twentieth century. In this century, there is a tendency to give them even more significance due to the fact that the world is experiencing multiple environmental problems that result from human economic and industrial activity. Should Christians be involved in resolving those issues? It certainly appears that they should since the Earth was given to people by God to be their dominion (Gen. 1:26) and Christians should exercise wise stewardship over it, which means they should take a good care of God’s gift to them. In this case, what their actions should be regarding the environment and its preservation or restoration? It seems worthwhile to approach this theme from the point of view of personal stewardship and individual actions that Christians should take regarding preservation or restoration of the environment.
Ways to Ensure Environment Protection
It seems practical to utilize the following means or ways that ensure protection of the environment: 1) usage of natural energy sources 2) rational usage of resources (like water, electricity, etc), 3) recycling, 4) reduction of harmful emissions, 5) development and amelioration of local areas, and 6) implementation of nature restoration/protection projects in poor and ecologically run-down areas or countries.
Usage of natural energy sources had gained its momentum by the end of the twentieth century. The term “natural energy sources” implies such energy sources as water, wind, solar energy, etc that can be used to provide clean and renewable electricity or energy which can be used for heating homes or other facilities. For example, wind turbines can be used to derive renewable electricity and solar panels are used to provide electricity and hot water (Natural Energy Sources).
Rational use of resources is another way of environment preservation. Consumption grew exponentially in the previous century. A part of it can be attributed to the growth of the global population. However, a significant share of consumption growth is the result of new mentality that has been actively promoted by large corporations striving to enlarge their markets. Excessive consumption leads to excessive production, which, in turn, results in broader usage of resources and energy.
In this paper, recycling can be regarded as a separate point even though it may fall under the category of rational use of resources. While rational use of resources leads to their preservation, recycling is the process of collecting and processing used materials and turning them into new products. It is basically giving the second life to materials that would otherwise be thrown away as trash.
Reduction of harmful emissions is immediately connected with recycling and rational use of resources since it keeps emissions as low as possible with the use of various techniques and devices. Individuals can contribute to reduction of harmful emissions if they use low emission cars and devices that prevent from releasing harmful emissions into the atmosphere.
Development and amelioration of local areas is basically conducted through cleaning campaigns when individuals or groups clean their local areas and plant trees in order to improve the environment.
At the same time, while carrying out activities to improve local areas, Christians can participate in international campaigns in order to implement nature restoration/protection projects in poor and ecologically run-down areas or countries. Some areas of Africa or India are so ecologically impoverished that they need significant contribution to change their condition. Christians can either donate or physically participate in those projects.
Backing of Warrants
Usage of natural energy sources is based on technologies that are based on the main sources of natural energy, which are the sun, water, wind, and earth. Out of them, water is considered the most diverse since it can be used in a number of ways. The waves of the sea and tides can be used for generation of electricity while rivers can be used to provide power with the help of hydroelectric dams. With the development of modern technologies that are available now individuals can use solar panels and wind generators on a daily basis, which will help to produce cheaper energy for home and office use and will reduce usage of nonrenewable resources for generation of electricity, which, in turn, will prevent from air and water pollution and also protect natural resources.
Reduction of consumption is a popular slogan these days, which, in fact, may be easily achieved through lesser use of such resources as water, electricity, gasoline, food and clothing (Qui, p. 4). Even though it is not appreciated by the overall public opinion, Christians should be practical in how much they consume. That means they can effectively reduce their spending without making significant changes in their life style. All the above resources and materials are obtained from natural resources and if everyone reduces his or her consumption that will lead to significant preservation of natural resources.
Recycling is a very important part of environment protection. It is actually a two-step activity. First of all, recycling means collecting used materials for processing and, secondly, it involves buying products made from recycled materials (Recycling Basics). For example, buying products made from recycled paper achieves at least two goals: it saves trees and pays for the use of recycling facilities, thus promoting development of new recycling technologies.
Reduction of harmful emissions is very vital for preventing greenhouse gas emissions that are believed to contribute to climate change. Each individual can personally make an input into fighting that process. Usage of latex paints or sustainable water solvent oil-based coatings results in zero or minimum harmful fumes release, while proper insulation of houses reduces the use of gas or electricity for heating (How to Reduce Your Greenhouse Gas Emissions).
Development and amelioration of local areas is a small but important contribution to the preservation of the environment. Government and NGO-sponsored efforts will not be discussed in this paper. That issue will be looked upon from the personal perspective. It is an individual’s option, at times, to decide whether he or she wants to live in an ecologically run-down area or they would like to make a difference in their community. An exemplar case of such an effort was made in Virgina Beach, Virginia, when MountTrashmorePark was established in the place of a former land fill (MountTrashmorePark). While that was a large-scale project, smaller goals can be achieved locally when joint efforts of several people can make a difference in an area.
Lastly, Christian can help to implement nature restoration/protection projects in poor and ecologically run-down areas or countries. Drilling water wells in Africa or setting up small recycling plants in India will help to fight poverty and drought in the first case and will contribute to the elimination of waste and creation of vacancies in the second option. While making a significant input into improving environmental condition, Christians can show the love of God to people in developing countries through participation in such projects.
Counter-arguments and Rebuttal
The theme of Christian participation in activities regarding the environment and its preservation or restoration is a subject of many disputes. Some say that the Earth is doomed to destruction and there is no use in participating in such projects. However, it says in Psalm 24 that the “earth is the Lord’s”, which means that God gave it to us to care for it and we should be good stewards of the Lord’s possession.
Environmentalism often falls into the trap of naturalistic and pantheistic ethics that it is not based on the reality of God as Creator (Bohlin, 1992). Thus, some throw the baby out with the bath water saying that any Christian participation in the environment preservation is unbiblical. We should remember though that God judges those who misuse the land (Isa 5:8-10) and He expects us to be in the right relationship with the creation though which He can be seen (Rom 1:19-20).
As seen from the above, the Earth was given to people by God to be their dominion (Gen. 1:26) and Christians should exercise wise stewardship over it, which means they should take a good care of God’s gift to them. In this paper, environmentalism was described from the point of view of personal stewardship and individual actions that Christians should take regarding the preservation or restoration of the environment. Six means or ways that ensure protection of the environment were reviewed that are the following: 1) natural energy sources 2) rational usage of resources (like water, electricity, etc), 3) recycling, 4) reduction of harmful emissions, 5) development and amelioration of local areas, and 6) implementation of nature restoration/protection projects in poor and ecologically run-down areas or countries. As based on those means of environment protection, significant changes can be made in our society and worldwide if individual Christians take actions to preserve nature.