Saturday, September 9, 2017

Reasonable "Creation Care"

One last blast to the extreme environmental movement regarding making the earth into an idol, then some positive words about the subject of "Creation Care", a term I do not like but will use because it seems to be what reasonable Christians are settling on.

Perhaps the most distressing part of the environmental movement is the attempt to silence their critics. Oddly, this also a very religious thing as well. Those who are called "Climate Change Deniers" are actually being run out of universities and called anti-science by those who hold extreme views. (Do not think that only extremists believe in what they say. They have convinced politicians and others that they are right.) Some have even called for the prosecution of those who put forth an alternative view. Is this how science supposed to work? Hardly. This is little different from charges of heresy in times past. The Climate Change "heretics" must be punished!

So, am I suggesting, as the extremists would say, that we want to pollute until we ruin everything. Not at all. My attitude, I think, is very practical. If you own your own home and you want a nice environment, then you will keep it clean. If you do not keep it clean, then you will live in filth. I recall my grandmother, a very diligent cleaner. She said that in the old days if you did not keep your house clean you were inviting disease into your home. Today, we have products which prevent a lot of that so one does not have to clean as thoroughly sometimes, or as often. Still, she had a good point. The cleaner it is, the healthier it is.

The same thing is true in our neighborhoods, cities, states and the nation as a whole. We can work to keep things clean, at first at a local level. We have a wildlife refuge near where we live and many volunteer to make it a better environment for us all. I applaud that. We all want a nice place for ourselves and for the flora and fauna that live there.

But then we also must understand that if we are to have a prosperous economy we are going to have to do some polluting. "Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much revenue comes by the strength of the ox." (Proverbs 14:14) This seems to be a little known scripture. God is saying that though oxen (their means of agricultural production) create a mess, it is better to have them so that we can prosper. And, of course, we have to clean up after them.

There is a tradeoff between productivity and pollution. The previous administration made a "war on coal". This greatly affected the economy of Appalachia which relies on coal for jobs and electricity. They wanted to shut down the coal plants, which are very cheap to run, but which pollute more than other kinds of power plants. The problem is that this disproportionately hurts the poor. First, the coal miners lose their jobs. Then, the price of electricity goes way up. So the effect is that the poorest region in the country becomes poorer still. Should it not be the decision of the people who live there whether or not they want cheaper electricity or less pollution? Why should politicians and bureaucrats in Washington make that decision?

Often, well-meaning politicians who care about the environment make foolish decisions that end up hurting people, especially the poor, and do nothing to help the environment. Germany recently decided to do away with the more polluting plants and replace them with environmentally "better" options like solar and wind. But at the same time, they got nervous about nuclear power (which is very clean and cheap to run) because of the nuclear plant in Japan that was hit by a tsunami. So they shut down those as well. They then had to ramp up the polluting plants again, but a higher cost. So, the net effect has been a doubling of electricity prices without any benefit to the environment. Who is hurt the most by this? The poor, of course. They cannot afford higher electricity rates. (Does Germany get a lot of tsunamis? I don't think so.)

So, the bottom line is this: let's be careful shutting things down thinking that we will be saving the planet or something, and remember who may be hurt by our good intentions. We always have to weigh the costs and benefits of any action we take. It is usually the poor who suffer from well-meaning people who care about our environment. This includes especially Christians who see it as our duty to take care of God's creation. I believe that the poor are a higher priority for us. (And please do not be fooled by the rhetoric by the extreme environmentalists to the effect that it is the poor who will be hurt the worst by climate change. That is easily refuted.)

So I am going to finish this series by recommending a website run by Christians who care both about the poor and about the environment. It is . They are not just critics of the environmental extremists and their views on the climate. They offer good perspectives on current environmental issues and are constantly aware of what happen to the poor when environmentalists suggest extreme or unwise measures to solve problems that may or may not exist. So, check it out. It is very enlightening.

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