Earth: Caring and Sharing
There's an interesting New York Times article here about the disparity between the consumption habits of the developing world and those of the developed world. Perhaps you'd find it hard to believe, but the reality is that Western Europe, North America, Japan, and Australia consume more of the earths resources per capita by a factor of 32, compared to the consumption habits of the developing world.
When we look at rioting in Kenya, or attacks on oil rigs in Nigeria, it's perhaps a bit easy to become self-righteous, assuming that the anger stems from some sort of flaw in systems or governments, some sort of corruption. Maybe. But maybe it's a least partly true that places like these have grown weary of us consuming 32 times more than they do. Can't we help them rise up a bit to attain to lifestyles that result in access to clean water, education, basic medical care, and healthy food? And if it's incumbent on the developed world to simplify things a bit in order that this might happen, can't we cut back a little - living a little bit greener and simpler?
This seems to me to be a faith issue because as Adam's offspring we're invited to fulfill the charge given him to tend the land and care for it. Draining the oceans of fish, clearing the forests of trees, harvesting species to extinction, and supporting systems that uphold the vast inequities globally of lifestyle don't seem to be the best ways of fulfilling the charge given Adam. To the contrary, these realities indicate the extent to which the fall has tainted our ability to rule the earth well.
The path forward must begin with resource stewardship. You can consider this matter personally if you'd like by assessing your own carbon footprint here. My own conviction is that Christians ought to be at the forefront of these kinds of policy matters and discussions, but the reality is that too often the church ignores these matters. The reasons are sometimes theological (rooted in a dualism that renders all things physical meaningless) and sometimes political (as the church weds herself to political parties that seek to sustain and uphold the factor of 32 as some sort of divine right of Americans). But please, let's get beyond these things and begin to creatively consider how best to simplify our lives. Perhaps we'll find that buying more locally, cooking more real food, walking or biking more, and turning a few lights out will result in not only a smaller footprint, but a more joy filled lifestyle.