How Will The Earth Be Restored?
From Tomorrow's World, first published in 2002. Here are a few highlights from a longer article:
A REAL CRISIS!
An environmental crisis of global proportions is threatening the continued existence of life on this earth. New laws, new technologies and international treaties will not solve the problem. While governments dither, mankind is running out of precious time to make the necessary changes. Experts estimate that, if present trends continue, we have only 30 to 50 years before major areas of the world could become uninhabitable!
Sadly, the true cause of our environmental crisis is either ignored or unrecognized, and the real solutions are overlooked. We need to understand why this global environmental crisis has developed, how it will be resolved, and the role we can play in restoring the earth.
THE FUNDAMENTAL CAUSE
To solve any problem, we must identify and address the cause. Overpopulation, overgrazing, overfishing, soil erosion, deforestation, pollution, habitat destruction and extinctions all contribute to the eco-crisis. But the real cause is much more fundamental, involving our value system and our attitudes toward the natural world--the creation. Attitudes and actions stem from our values, which are largely determined by religion and our philosophy of life.
God instructed mankind to "dress and keep" the environment (Genesis 2:15, KJV). These words carry the connotation of "working and cultivating" or "serving and preserving" the environment. Human beings are given the awesome responsibility of being wise managers and careful stewards of God's creation. They are to rule as God would rule, according to His instructions. Moses admonished the kings of Israel not to greedily amass possessions for themselves, but spend time studying and learning how to apply the laws of God (Deuteronomy 17:14-20). Jesus told His disciples that anyone who aspired to a position of leadership must first learn how to serve others (Matthew 20:25-28). But what guidelines does God provide in His Word that would enable human rulers to serve and to wisely develop the creation?
The first task that God gave to Adam, in the context of dressing and keeping the garden, was to name the animals (Genesis 2:19). To be a wise manager or steward, Adam was required to conduct an environmental inventory of his new domain. As he talked with God about the different plants and animals, Adam would come to understand that God created different habitats for different creatures (Psalm 104:5-26), and that God designed the earth to function according to definite laws and cycles (see Proverbs 3:19; Ecclesiastes 1:5-7). To manage the earth wisely we must understand, and learn to live in harmony with, the physical laws that God designed to sustain life on this earth.
Scripture provides basic guidelines revealing how human beings should manage the earth's resources and function in harmony with its ecological laws. The Bible promotes the wise use and conservation of forest resources (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). God's instructions on wildlife management permit us to harvest animal populations but not ruinously exploit these renewable biologic resources (Deuteronomy 22:6-7). Animals entrusted to human care were to be treated humanely (Deuteronomy 22:4; 25:4; Luke 14:5). This would discourage the cruel caging of birds and animals that occurs in many factory farm operations today. Biodegradable waste was to be disposed of in a sanitary manner, in harmony with natural cycles of decomposition (Deuteronomy 23:12-14). This would prevent polluting the environment and the spread of disease. To harvest timber, fish and wildlife populations above their capacity to replace themselves--or to use up non-renewable resources and thus deprive future generations the use of that resource--is to break the spirit of the commandment: "Thou shall not steal" (Exodus 20:15). Agricultural lands were to be rested every seven years to help restore fertility (Leviticus 25:1-4). Human settlements were not to be crowded and unsanitary (Isaiah 5:8), but were to allow space for gardens (Micah 4:4) and contact with the natural world (Genesis 2:15) to provide enjoyment and inspiration (Psalm 23:1-2). Parents were not to have more children than they could support (1 Timothy 5:8) or adequately train (Proverbs 22:6).