Compassionate environmentalism vs. plunder the Earth

This item was originally posted in November 2007. I have added it to my blog recycling program. Because I have new readers of The GeoChristian, I will occasionally go back and re-use some of my favorite blog entries.

There is a growing awareness among Evangelicals of the importance of environmental issues. There are good Biblical arguments for the importance of taking care of the creation as part of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and loving our neighbor as ourselves. Increasingly, this is true among politically conservative Evangelicals; it is no longer just our more politically liberal brothers and sisters in Christ who see that being good stewards of the environment is part of the call to discipleship.

Marvin Olasky has an article on World Magazine’s web site called “Compassionate Environmentalism.” Here are some quotes:

While older evangelicals tend to emphasize the problems of gay marriage, many younger evangelicals concentrate more on poverty-fighting and environmental issues – and that’s fine. But what happens when evangelicals understand that helping the poor and aggressively fighting global warming are at loggerheads? 
I first became aware of the divide between concern for the poor and radical environmentalism in Austin a decade ago. The city went all out to protect a species of cave spiders but scrimped on police protection in poorer sections – and one result was that a deaf woman died in a gang shooting near my home. Sure, in theory we can protect both cave spiders and humans, but in reality needs and wants compete for a limited pool of money.

“Creation care” is important. God calls us to be stewards and gardeners, caring for oxen in the ditch and relishing lilies. But the Bible also teaches that human beings, created in God’s image, are the most valuable resource on earth.

My hope and prayer is that those who see the importance of environmental issues will be able to rise above “left vs. right” to find solutions to environmental problems that are good for the Earth, good for the poor, and good for the economy.

However, some conservatives just don’t get it. Here is a comment added by a reader of Olasky’s post:

When I walk out my front-door, the only environmental problems I see are crab-grass. Pass the herbicide please.

The Bulldoze-the-Everglades-and-Kill-the-Whales side of conservatism is no more Biblical than the Worship-the-Earth-Goddess-and-Hug-a-Tree side of the environmentalist movement.

Grace and Peace

2 thoughts on “Compassionate environmentalism vs. plunder the Earth

  1. Matt Strid

    Preach it Brother!

    I am bothered by the debate always being defined by its extremes. And then when “conservatives” decide they want to be environmentally conscious they do things like ethenol which decreases corn supply (a global food staple) and increases food costs as demand is ever increasing thereby making life even harder on the poor. But hey, its cleaner than burning fossil fuels, right?

    We need to stop and THINK, not just react.


  2. Species ending? It’s our call

    By Frank Keegan
    Relax general. Cheer up. Things shall get worse, but they could get better. The choice is ours.

    Hearing a vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff utter the words “species ending” about our near future should be enough to wake us all.

    Gen. James E. Cartwright uttered the phrase recently during the inaugural Johns Hopkins University Leaders + Legends lecture. He spoke on “Leading Organizational Change to Meet New Challenges.”

    What challenges? Financial crises, climate change, weapons of mass destruction widely and readily available to rogue states and lunatic groups. Is that all? No.

    “Competition (for scarce world resources) inevitably will lead to conflict,” Cartwright said. “Are we at a tipping point? Yes. Will we have control? No.”

    Generals are interested because when leaders of state, commerce and church mess up, armed forces have to clean up.

    Cartwright’s love and admiration for the men and women who fight for us if things go wrong is palpable. Figuring out when and where the next conflict breaks out, and how best to combat it, is what generals are supposed to do.

    Now they also try to figure out why, and ways to prevent it. For example, a 2004 Department of Defense study determined global warming is the No. 1 threat to the security of the United States. How can that be if there is no such thing?

    Just because history proves we turn upon ourselves when stressed with a ferocity unequaled by any other species, is there any reason to think this time will be different?

    Nope, according to Cartwright. The stress level is rising, fast. Along with heating things up, we inflict upon ourselves an increasing host of things — from radioactive isotopes to organic chemicals to new and emerging diseases — never before endured by humans.

    Family by family, friend by friend we now begin to see the price we pay for our toxic past. We have not seen the worst of it. Our despoiling of our narrow ecological niche leaves us little room for survival.

    We are learning the real price of living it up instead of eating bread from the sweat of our brow. We arrogantly believe “the laws of Nature and Nature’s God” beseeched in our Declaration of Independence somehow do not apply to us.

    Environmentalists weep about saving Earth when actually our planet is not at risk. We are. Other species come and go. Why not us?

    Don’t worry about biodiversity. While exterminating thousands of species, we create opportunities for others. Cockroaches and rats are doing very well. Doing even better are myriad bacteria and viruses. For example, we’ve created perfect environments for growth and spread of staphylococcus and influenza, and the willfully ignorant and criminal negligence of our political and spiritual leaders helped HIV propagate around the globe in less than a decade. Thanks.

    Sure, if we ceased all carbon dioxide emissions now it would take only 100,000 years to return to pre-industrial levels.

    And those new substances — we cannot even count them all — we poison the born and unborn with will continue to kill us for millennia, especially if we use them as weapons.

    But we and we alone hold the power to begin undoing what we have done. The hard fact is environmental responsibility is good business, creating jobs, adding real value and paying long-term dividends.

    Environmental atrocities are bad business, merely deferring costs that accrue and compound — costs we cannot refuse to pay. Our ecological deficit is orders of magnitude larger than our fiscal debts, though both grow from our same inherent flaws.

    We can pay down both at the same time if we have the wisdom and will to take control.

    If we do we can thrive and prosper. If we don’t, Gen. Cartwright is correct. We’re doomed.

    Frank Keegan is editor of The Baltimore Examiner. Reach him at


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