The GeoChristian

The Earth. Christianity. They go together.

Earth Day 2008 — Stewardship of the Environment

This item was originally posted in December 2006. In honor of Earth Day, it is now part of my blog recycling program. Because I have new readers of The GeoChristian, I will occasionally go back and re-use some of my best blog entries.

The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy has produced a document called The Chicago Statement on Biblical Application. Article XVI of this statement is about the environment:

Article XVI: Stewardship of the Environment

We affirm that God created the physical environment for His own glory and for the good of His human creatures.
We affirm that God deputized humanity to govern the creation.
We affirm that mankind has more value than the rest of creation.
We affirm that mankind’s dominion over the earth imposes a responsibility to protect and tend its life and resources.
We affirm that Christians should embrace responsible scientific investigation and its application in technology.
We affirm that stewardship of the Lord’s earth includes the productive use of its resources which must always be replenished as far as possible.
We affirm that avoidable pollution of the earth, air, water, or space is irresponsible.

We deny that the cosmos is valueless apart from mankind.
We deny that the biblical view authorizes or encourages wasteful exploitation of nature.
We deny that Christians should embrace the countercultural repudiation of science or the mistaken belief that science is the hope of mankind.
We deny that individuals or societies should exploit the universe’s resources for their own advantage at the expense of other people and societies.
We deny that a materialistic worldview can provide an adequate basis for recognizing environmental values.

I heartily endorse this kind of thinking. It states the high value of creation without minimizing the importance of humans. Many in the environmentalist movement deny or minimize the value of humans. May we in the Christian community not go to the other extreme, only giving lip service to the value of the creation.

Grace and Peace

The Chicago Statement on Biblical Application is found at the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals website.

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Blog Recycling, Environment | Leave a comment

Earth Day 2008 — Christian Environmentalism

This item was originally posted for Earth Day, 2006 (Earth Day is held on April 22nd). It is now part of my blog recycling program. Because I have more people reading The GeoChristian now than I did then, I will occasionally go back and re-use some of my favorite blog entries.

We all seem to like nature–we teach our children to throw their trash in trash cans and send them to summer camp in the mountains or woods–but beyond this, Christian response to environmental issues is varied. I’ll try to give some additional thoughts about the environment as the week progresses.

A good internet article summarizing a Christian perspective on the environment is Christian Environmentalism by Dr. Ray Bohlin of Probe Ministries. Here are some quotes from the article:

What we fail to realize is that Christians have a sacred responsibility to the earth and the creatures within it. The earth is being affected by humans in an unprecedented manner, and we do not know what the short or long term effects will be.

But while pantheism elevates nature, it simultaneously degrades man and will ultimately degrade nature as well.

A true Christian environmental ethic differs from the naturalistic and pantheistic ethics in that it is based on the reality of God as Creator and man as his image-bearer and steward. God is the Creator of nature, not part of nature.

Nature has value in and of itself because God created it.

But a responsibility goes along with bearing the image of God. In its proper sense, man’s rule and dominion over the earth is that of a steward or a caretaker, not a reckless exploiter. Man is not sovereign over the lower orders of creation. Ownership is in the hands of the Lord.

An effective steward understands that which he oversees, and science can help us discover the intricacies of nature. Technology puts the creation to man’s use, but unnecessary waste and pollution degrades it and spoils the creation’s ability to give glorify to its creator. I think it is helpful to realize that we are to exercise dominion over nature not as though we are entitled to exploit it but as something borrowed or held in trust.

The source of our ecological crisis lies in man’s fallen nature and the abuse of his dominion.

Our often uncontrolled greed and haste have led to the deterioration of the environment.

We have spoken out loudly against the materialism of science as expressed in the issues of abortion, human dignity, evolution, and genetic engineering, but have shown ourselves to be little more than materialists in our technological orientation towards nature.

By failing to fulfill our responsibilities to the earth, we are losing a great evangelistic opportunity. Many in our society are seeking an improved environment, yet they think that most Christians don’t care about ecological issues and that most churches offer no opportunity for involvement.

Grace and Peace

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Blog Recycling, Environment | Leave a comment

Earth Day 2008

Earth Day is coming on April 22nd. Here’s a quote to get us thinking Biblically about our stewardship of the Earth:

“There is one ultimate owner in the universe, God. All others are trustees.” –John Piper, Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ, p. 89

Grace and Peace

April 18, 2008 Posted by | Environment, Quotes | Leave a comment

The heavens declare the glory of God

Today’s Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Click on the picture to go to the site. This little version does not do the picture justice. I think it is one of the best astronomy landscapes that has appeared on APOD in all its years.

The APOD description:

This sky is protected. Yesterday marked the 50 year anniversary of the first lighting ordinance ever enacted, which restricted searchlight advertisements from sweeping the night skies above Flagstaff, Arizona, USA. Flagstaff now enjoys the status of being the first International Dark Sky City, and maintains a lighting code that limits lights from polluting this majestic nighttime view. The current dark skies over Flagstaff not only enable local astronomers to decode the universe but allow local sky enthusiasts to see and enjoy a tapestry contemplated previously by every human generation. The above image, pointing just east of north, was taken two weeks ago at 3 am from Fort Valley, only 10 kilometers from central Flagstaff. Visible in the above spectacular panorama are the San Francisco Peaks caped by a lenticular cloud. Far in the distance, the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy arcs diagonally from the lower left to the upper right, highlighted by the constellations of Cassiopeia, Cepheus, and Cygnus. On the far right, the North America Nebula is visible just under the very bright star Deneb.

Here in Bucharest, Romania, I enjoy a relatively dark sky for an urban area. The light pollution here is much less than it is in a comparably-sized city in the U.S., such as St. Louis. I can go outside in my neighborhood and actually pick out constellations. But the night sky on moonless nights in remote parts of the western U.S. is absolutely astounding, and the people of Flagstaff have done well to preserve this darkness.

David experienced this on a regular basis, and wrote about it in Psalm 19:1-4 (NIV)

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they display knowledge.
There is no speech or language
where their voice is not heard.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

Grace and Peace

Photo credit: Dan & Cindy Duriscoe

April 16, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | Leave a comment

Moon of fear

From yesterday’s Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Phobos: Doomed Moon of Mars

This moon is doomed. Mars, the red planet named for the Roman god of war, has two tiny moons, Phobos and Deimos, whose names are derived from the Greek for Fear and Panic. These martian moons may well be captured asteroids originating in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter or perhaps from even more distant reaches of the Solar System. The larger moon, Phobos, is indeed seen to be a cratered, asteroid-like object in this stunning color image from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, recorded at a resolution of about seven meters per pixel. But Phobos orbits so close to Mars – about 5,800 kilometers above the surface compared to 400,000 kilometers for our Moon – that gravitational tidal forces are dragging it down. In 100 million years or so Phobos will likely be shattered by stress caused by the relentless tidal forces, the debris forming a decaying ring around Mars.

At the APOD site, you can click on the image to zoom in to an incredible level of detail.

Grace and Peace

April 15, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy | Leave a comment

What scientists were really saying about “global cooling” in the 1970s

I remember hearing it too, back in the 1970s: “We’re heading into another ice age.”

Today we hear: “Why should we believe the climate scientists when they predict global warming? Back in the 1970s, they predicted the Earth’s climate was going to get much colder.”

But was “global cooling” really the consensus back in the 70s? The RealClimate blog reports:

During the period we analyzed, climate science was very different from what you see today. There was far less integration among the various sub-disciplines that make up the enterprise. Remote sensing, integrated global data collection and modeling were all in their infancy. But our analysis nevertheless showed clear trends in the focus and conclusions the researchers were making. Between 1965 and 1979 we found (see table 1 for details):

  • 7 articles predicting cooling
  • 44 predicting warming
  • 20 that were neutral

In other words, during the 1970s, when some would have you believe scientists were predicting a coming ice age, they were doing no such thing. The dominant view, even then, was that increasing levels of greenhouse gases were likely to dominate any changes we might see in climate on human time scales.

This was also reported in USA Today: Study debunks ‘global cooling’ concern of ’70s.

Grace and Peace

April 12, 2008 Posted by | Climate Change | Leave a comment

Christ-less Christianity

If I could pass on just one thing about Christianity and the gospel to my children, students at BCA, and church, it would be this: The gospel is all about Jesus Christ and what he has done for us in his incarnation, life, death and resurrection; not about what we do for him. You wouldn’t always know this, however, by reading many of the best-sellers in Christian bookstores, or by listening to the self-help sermons that are preached in many churches.

Michael Spencer — the Internet Monk — writes about this in his post No Jesus Needed:

Recently I listened to a sermon. Preached by a Christian, a Baptist, a minister at a church, a graduate of a Christian school training ministers to serve and communicate Jesus.

This preacher gave a message that he had worked hard to prepare; a message he had presented before. A message he deeply believed in.

It was a message well organized, passionately delivered and completely sincere. It was a message with an application about having a purpose in living that many people need to hear.

So why am I writing about that sermon? Did it change my life?

I’m writing about that sermon because it was a perfect illustration of Christless preaching.

There was not a single mention of Jesus. Not once. Not in any way. Nowhere.

It was as if Jesus had never been born. It was as if Jesus never existed.

Read the rest at the Internet Monk.

Grace and Peace

April 12, 2008 Posted by | Christianity | Leave a comment

Green Gasoline

The burning of petroleum (and other fossil fuels) is a primary contributor to the increase of CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere. Burning of plant material, on the other hand, does not increase the concentration of CO2, because the carbon in the plant came from the atmosphere in the first place, through the process of photosynthesis. If we could use plants to fuel our cars and factories, we would greatly reduce the amount of CO2 that we produce. This has been the impetus for using biodiesel and corn- or soy-derived ethanol as fuels.

Ethanol production hasn’t proven to be as environmentally-friendly as proponents had hoped, and researchers are looking for other plant-derived gasoline alternatives.

From the National Science Foundation:

Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees, But Gasoline Might

Researchers make breakthrough in creating gasoline from plant matter, with almost no carbon footprint

Researchers have made a breakthrough in the development of “green gasoline,” a liquid identical to standard gasoline yet created from sustainable biomass sources like switchgrass and poplar trees.

While it may be five to 10 years before green gasoline arrives at the pump or finds its way into a fighter jet, these breakthroughs have bypassed significant hurdles to bringing green gasoline biofuels to market.

“It is likely that the future consumer will not even know that they are putting biofuels into their car,” said Huber. “Biofuels in the future will most likely be similar in chemical composition to gasoline and diesel fuel used today. The challenge for chemical engineers is to efficiently produce liquid fuels from biomass while fitting into the existing infrastructure today.”

“Green gasoline is an attractive alternative to bioethanol since it can be used in existing engines and does not incur the 30 percent gas mileage penalty of ethanol-based flex fuel,” said John Regalbuto, who directs the Catalysis and Biocatalysis Program at NSF and supported this research.

“In theory it requires much less energy to make than ethanol, giving it a smaller carbon footprint and making it cheaper to produce,” Regalbuto said. “Making it from cellulose sources such as switchgrass or poplar trees grown as energy crops, or forest or agricultural residues such as wood chips or corn stover, solves the lifecycle greenhouse gas problem that has recently surfaced with corn ethanol and soy biodiesel.”

Beyond academic laboratories, both small businesses and Fortune 500 petroleum refiners are pursuing green gasoline. Companies are designing ways to hybridize their existing refineries to enable petroleum products including fuels, textiles, and plastics to be made from either crude oil or biomass and the military community has shown strong interest in making jet fuel and diesel from the same sources.

Grace and Peace

Thanks to: Geology.com News

April 9, 2008 Posted by | Climate Change, Energy, Environment, Geology | Leave a comment

Geology of the Moon

From the Wikipedia Picture of the Day for April 4th:

This false-color mosaic showing compositional variations in the geology of the Moon was constructed from a series of 53 images taken through three spectral filters by the imaging system of the Galileo spacecraft. Bright pinkish areas are highlands materials, such as those surrounding the oval lava-filled Mare Crisium impact basin toward the bottom. Blue to orange shades indicate volcanic lava flows. To the left of Crisium, the dark blue Mare Tranquillitatis is richer in titanium than the green and orange maria above it. Thin mineral-rich soils associated with relatively recent impacts are represented by light blue colors. The monochrome band on the right edge shows the unretouched surface of the moon.

Grace and Peace

April 7, 2008 Posted by | Astronomy, Geology | Leave a comment

Kilauea eruption images

Kilauea, one of five shield volcanoes on the island of Hawaii, has been erupting continuously since 1983. Its eruption during the past month (March 2008) included the first explosive eruption at Kilauea since 1924. The USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory offers spectacular images:

kilauea1.jpg
Halemaumau crater, at the summit of Kilauea

kilauea2.jpg
Lava streams into the ocean, making the island of Hawaii just a little bit bigger.

kilauea3.jpg
A recent solidified cascade of lava over the old sea cliff.

kilauea4.jpg
Large skylight on a lava tube. The lava is flowing to the left, and small bubbles and other detail can be seen on the surface of the lava stream. The dark spots are bits of cooled lava crust being blown into the skylight by the helicopter.

kilauea5.jpg
An active aa flow covers a recent pahoehoe flow.

kilauea6.jpg
View of pahoehoe lava field.

The captions are modified from the HVO web site.

Pahoehoe and aa, of course, are my two favorite Hawaiian geological terms. Pahoehoe (puh-ho-ee-ho-ee) lava flows are smooth, and aa (ah-ah) lava flows have a sharp, jumbled surface. If you walk on an aa flow barefoot, you’ll say, “Ah! Ah!”

Grace and Peace

April 1, 2008 Posted by | Geology | 2 Comments