Here are a couple quotes:
I frequently get asked how we, as Christians, choose between caring for the poor and caring for creation, as if we have to choose one or the other. As often as I have been asked that question, it still catches me by surprise because my own concern for the earth first grew out of a concern for the poor.
As someone told me recently, creation care seems like a cause for bored middle-class Americans who want to have chickens in their backyard, whereas the poor don’t have the luxury of worrying about their environment. The idea is that environmental issues are primarily aesthetic and fall pretty high up on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
However, if you live in a world in which water comes in plastic bottles and food comes from the supermarket, it is easy to see the environment as purely decorative. In the US, we have been able to use our material wealth to purchase several layers of insulation from the earth. Therefore, I believe we have much to learn from our brothers and sisters in rural communities throughout the world. They recognize that there is a direct connection between environmental quality and the most basic of needs: food, water and air.
We quickly learned that the problem was not one of ignorance, but rather a lack of opportunity. I have had more than one poor, illiterate farmer give me an elegant description of how a watershed works. But, as I was told recently in Haiti, they also have a saying that translates to “Either this tree must die or I must die in its place.” Nonetheless, they are aware of the long-term stakes and would do more to care for the environment if they had the opportunity.
Thus, helping to create opportunity – serving the poor – helps to serve the environment and helping to restore the environment serves the poor. Both activities serve the Creator. We need not make a choice between the poor and the earth.
Grace and Peace
A four minute video on world wealth and health that is a more interesting presentation of statistics than the norm:
The video ends on an optimistic note: everything is getting better and better, even for those down at the bottom. I would be more cautious: while life expectancy has improved for all but the poorest of the poor, there are still a billion people down at the bottom who have been left behind. And there is no guarantee that the trend will continue, as development runs into the walls of energy and water shortages, and with the ever-present risk of conflict, disease, and general human folly.
HT: Don R
This graph, along with many others, is available in an interactive format at gapminderworld.org. For example, the GDP per capita/life expectancy graph from the 200 Countries video can be stopped or run backwards, and you can point to individual dots to see what country is represented. For example, I followed the “South Africa” dot and watched it move from 61 years life expectancy in the mid-1980s to 50 years at present (a result largely of the ongoing AIDS crisis).
The X and Y axes of the chart can be changed to all sorts of things related to health, population, economics, education, the environment, and others. For example, here is a graph showing the relationship between adult female literacy rates and child mortality rates. The graph shows that Chad has the lowest adult female literacy rate (21%) and the highest infant mortality rate (209 child deaths per 1000 births).
Data can also be portrayed as a map. This map can run showing population changes from 1555 to 2030:
Grace and Peace