GeoScriptures — Proverbs 21:20 — Sustainability

“In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has.”  — Proverbs 21:20 (NIV 1984)

This proverb condemns the fool who consumes all he has with no regard for the future.

As a Christian who believes that it is as much a sin to be a poor steward of the Earth as it is to be a poor steward of anything else God has given us, I see this wisdom from Solomon as being highly relevant in our age of consumption, greed, and inherent limitations in the world in which God has placed us.

Our society uses many natural resources—energy resources, water, air, soil, forests, fisheries—in a way that violates Proverbs 21:20. One can point to local examples where this is not the case, such as the increase of forested acres in the eastern United States or the cleaner air that exists as a result of the Clean Air Act, but overall these instances are the exception rather than the rule.

Proverbs 21:20 could be used as part of a Biblical case for the sustainable use of natural resources. All “sustainability” means, in terms of ecology, is that we use the resources God has given us in the creation in a way that ensures that we do not devour all we have. It means that we do not live just for today or for ourselves, but for tomorrow and those who will follow after us.

The alternative to sustainability is unsustainability. If we consume all we have, then what future generations will be left with won’t be sufficient to feed and power a world whose human population is predicted to peak at roughly ten billion around the mid-21st century.

Grace and Peace

Toilet or telephone?

If you could choose between having a cell phone, and having a toilet in or near your home, which would you choose? I think I could live without the cell phone.

From Yahoo News/Associated Press: India: Land of many cell phones, fewer toilets.

MUMBAI, India – The Mumbai slum of Rafiq Nagar has no clean water for its shacks made of ripped tarp and bamboo. No garbage pickup along the rocky, pocked earth that serves as a road. No power except from haphazard cables strung overhead illegally.

And not a single toilet or latrine for its 10,000 people.

Yet nearly every destitute family in the slum has a cell phone. Some have three.

The article describes the extreme poverty in the slums of Mumbai. Many don’t have the basics of life: adequate food, clean water, sanitation, health care.

But they have cell phones. They are dependent on an undependable government for the basics of life, so live in destitution. But cell phones are cheap and available.

Pray. Be thankful for what you have. Give generously.

Grace and Peace

World groundwater resources map

From UNESCO: Groundwater Resources of the World

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From the UNESCO press release:

Despite its strategic importance, no global inventory of this resource had been compiled to date. Since 2000, UNESCO’s International Hydrological Programme (IHP) has been participating in the establishment of a groundwater database. It is now presenting a detailed map of transboundary aquifers – available online – showing the delineations of aquifers that are shared by at least two countries. It also provides information about the quality of their water and rate of replenishment. So far, the inventory comprises 273 shared aquifers: 68 are on the American continent, 38 in Africa, 65 in eastern Europe, 90 in western Europe and 12 in Asia.

The aquifers, which contain 100 times the volume of fresh water that is to be found on the Earth’s surface, already supply a sizeable proportion of our needs.

Although aquifer systems exist in all continents, not all of them are renewable. For example, those in north Africa and the Arabian peninsula were formed more than 10,000 years ago when the climate was more humid and are no longer replenished. In some regions, even if the aquifers are renewable – being fed on a regular basis by rainfall – they are in some cases endangered by over-exploitation or pollution. In the small islands and coastal zones of the Mediterranean, populations often use groundwater more rapidly than it is replenished.

HT: The Map Room

Grace and peace