Saturday, April 19, 2008

Environmentalism

C. Marie Byars has an interesting post on Faux Environmentalism.

First, a disclaimer: My income comes from the petroleum industry, but I try not to let that affect my environmental views, either direction. Remember also that in this blog I'm not speaking for my employer. I want to be wise concerning the environment and faithful to God.

I think some politicians want to use environmentalism as an excuse for stronger government.

Still, there are simple things we can do that probably make a difference. Here are some...
1. Live closer to where we work, or vice-versa.
2. Never use charcoal lighter fluid. A metal fire-starter ring with crumpled newspaper works just as well.
3. Drive a vehicle with higher-than-average gas mileage.
4. Eat less meat. I've seen it claimed that the production of meat produces more ozone-depletion than does transportation. Whether or not that's true, we'd almost certainly be healthier and gentler on the environment if we ate less meat.
5. Turn off incandescent lights when not in use.
6. Avoid traveling to Tahiti to attend environmental conferences. (Yes, it's been done.)
7. Recycle a little more of what we use.
8. Let grass clippings stay on the lawn for fertilizer, if the lawn is of a type that will tolerate that.
9. Plant more trees than we cut down. Near where I live, they are currently clear-cutting large amounts of the native forest and replacing them with subdivisions with names like "Arbor Trails." Such a practice is scandalous. I think it should be illegal.
10. Replace each car's air filter at least once a year.
11. Drive gently, avoiding sudden speed changes.
12. Stop being a slave to fashion in clothing.

Here are some environmental ideas that I think have dubious value:
1. Restricting yourself to locally-grown food. This week our newspaper mentioned an inn with a 5-star restaurant that serves locally-grown food; they can arrange for you to arrive by helicopter, if you wish.
2. No longer making Bibles with oil-based covers; using leather, bonded leather and other recyclable materials instead. (Am I the only one who wonders whether it actually takes more oil to make the leather cover? What about greenhouse gas production from the two types? Are old Bible covers really what's clogging up our landfills?)
3. Buying carbon credits, brokered by the company you own, to offset the carbon footprint of your mansion.
4. Pushing for the US to use ethanol from corn instead of gasoline. One problem with the ethanol is the large amount of groundwater that's being pumped to produce the corn. The groundwater is just as scarce a resource as is the oil. Better ideas: Pushing for fuel economy, for public transportation, for car-pooling or for better electric cars.
5. Ripping out all of the asbestos in old schools and burying it, instead of merely sealing it off with some sort of coating.

I thinking about the environment, let's keep truth in mind:
--The Lord calls us to be stewards. A steward is neither to waste things nor to keep them from their proper use.
--People are sinful. Unsaved radical environmentalists are just as sinful as are unsaved radical polluters. We can expect people on all sides to be dishonest and selfish.
--We must not pretend that we need 100% certainty before taking action on an issue. We don't want to be like the tobacco companies which denied for decades that there was any link between smoking and cancer.
--Our religion is to be Jesus, not the environment.

"Whether then you eat or you drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God."
--1 Corinthians 10:31, NASB

3 comments:

Joyce said...

Excellent post, Jim! I couldn't agree with you more. I have chosen to engage in blogger communication with some folks that are pretty radical in an effort to be salt and light, and I think I have had some success, but there is an aweful lot of disinformation occurring on both sides. I like your balanced approach-it's very refreshing.

C. Marie Byars said...

Thanks for linking me! What an honor. BTW, I also like your list of modern superstitions. The flip side of them could be labeled "The Moderate Christian Manifesto."

P.S. If you like to read the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins, a 19th century English Jesuit nature poetry, some works give an early foundation for Christian envririonmentalism, although there were, of course, no real "earth movements" at that time. Earth Day is coming up.

Jim Swindle said...

Thank you, Joyce and Marie, for your encouraging words.

Marie, I haven't read Hopkins lately, but have really enjoyed his poetry in the past. I memorized "Pied Beauty" years ago and remember silently quoting it to myself while looking out a plane window at the passing fields. On looking it up just now, I realized I'd forgotten some lines during the years since. Thanks for the reminder.