The oceans are warming. We have known this for some time. The oceans are warming, and like other aspects of global warming, this is bound to lead to disaster for the world. Not only are there new types of heat waves threatening the lives of the ocean’s inhabitants, destroying ecosystems within the ocean, there is also the constant threat of melting ice and cataclysmic storms to come.
The birds are disappearing. Within fifty years, the North American bird population has been reduced by a third.
Everywhere we turn, there are more and more “canaries in a coal mine” in regards the harm humanity has caused to the environment. Greta Thunberg is right: this is all wrong, she should not have to be in front of us showing us what is going on right in front of our noses. We have long neglected our responsibility to the world, and as a result, the future of humanity is at stake.
Those who would argue we should be concerned about babies instead of the environment need only be told that we are worried about babies. Destroy the world, and those babies will die at our own hands. We are culpable for what we do. We have a responsibility to the world. The destroyers of the earth will face the consequences of their actions (cf. Rev. 11:18), and those who support and defend the destroyers of the earth with all kinds of gaslighting will find they join in the condemnation of those whom they helped defend.
Greta Thunberg said to the leaders of the world, and those who support their earth-destroying polices, “How dare you!” How dare they, indeed. Moreover, how dare any so-called Christian neglect their duty to the earth. How dare they ignore their responsibility to God, protecting his creation. “The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein” (Ps. 24:1 RSV). How dare so-called Christians denounce Greta Thunberg, environmental scientists, and the prophetic leaders of the churches speaking out to defend the Lord’s good earth and all of its inhabitants. Will they, like Balaam, require an ass to speak to them? Then they should go out into nature and listen and they will hear the cries of the animals as they face mass extinction. How dare so-called Christians belittle creation and yet act so holy and pious as they ridicule those who act on God’s behalf!
Pope Francis has urged politicians to take this serious. Patriarch Bartholomew, in his Encyclical For the Feast of Indiction and the First Day of the Ecclesiastical Year and the Day of Environmental Protection (2019), likewise continued to emphasize the importance of protecting the environment as a Christian duty:
Care for the natural environment is not an added activity, but an essential expression of church life. It does not have a secular, but rather a purely ecclesiastical character. It is a “liturgical ministry.” All of the initiatives and activities of the Church are “applied ecclesiology.” In this sense, theological ecology does not merely refer to the development of an ecological awareness or the response to ecological problems on the basis of the principles of Christian anthropology and cosmology. On the contrary, it involves the renewal of the whole creation in Christ, just as this is realized and experienced in the Holy Eucharist, which is an image and foretaste of the eschatological fullness of the Divine Economy in the doxological wholeness and luminous splendor of the heavenly kingdom.
It is a Christian concern. It is a human concern. It is our responsibility, not only because we are capable of acting as stewards of the earth, but also because we are the ones who have caused the ecological crisis which lies before us today. “If you break it, you pay for it. “We have broken the environment. We have caused undue strain and harm to the world’s ecosystems. The effects of climate change are not theoretical, but before us today.
How dare we do anything but repent of our sins against the Lord, which include our destruction of the earth. How dare we ridicule those who speak eloquently of the necessity to do all we can do to fix the problem which lies before us. How dare we treat it all as a joke, or as something which can be put off into the future.
The future is here. The world is heating up. Death is around us. And it’s all our fault.
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