Caring for the environment


Recently, there was a report on a little timber town that was facing extinction. It developed into the usual argument. On the one hand there were the alternate life-stylers who had moved from the city into the valley, purchased their five acres of bushland, cleared it, put in their veggie garden, set up their goat herd, built their timber house and stocked it with timber furniture and were now agitating for the rest of bushland to be turned into a National Park. On the other hand, there were the townies who felt that it was their right to exploit every piece of timber that grew in the valley, all for the golden buck.

Night after night we hear the same story repeated ad nauseam. There are those who would turn our country into one giant mine and destroy the environment in the process. That the grass, the herbs, the shrubs and the trees give life to humanity seems of little consequence. Not only do they provide the source of all life, but they are, as yet, an untapped medicine chest for humanity. We know little of the healing powers of the bush. But then at the other extreme there are those who would turn our country into one giant National Park. We have the bush presented to us as though it were divine, god like, and of greater importance than humanity itself. "To hell with humanity", seems to be the cry, "I'm OK, pull the ladder up." Issues of food and shelter seem of little importance in the face of the crime of chopping down a single tree.

Most developed countries have lost large slabs of their forests and soils. When we see pictures of the Bible lands, it is hard to realize that those rock strewn hills were once covered with dense forests, that the sandy valleys were once fertile flood planes. Four thousand years of human occupation has devastated Palestine. What are we doing to our land? Why does the farmer overgraze? Why do we have to chop down every tree on our block of land just to build a house?

So what's the answer? Close-up all the forests and import all our timber? Don't allow further subdivision of land for housing, especially near my house? Ban people from National parks and blow up all development near them?

"The earth is the Lord's, and everything in it." We need to remember who owns the place. It's not ours to wreck up. The old "shoot it if it moves and chop it down if it doesn't" is not quiet the right approach. This place is on loan to us. The other side of the coin is that it is ours to manage for the good of all humanity for all time. "I give you everything" God says, "subdue it, rule over " it, "work it and take care of it." So, the world is our garden, created for our pleasure and survival, all we need do is tend it - manage it to the glory of God.