Why the church can’t afford to ignore the environmental crisis.
By Gideon Heugh
We should be grieving. We should be weeping and wailing and shouting at the heavens.
How long, O Lord – how long will you do nothing while mankind lays waste to your creation?
God’s answer, of course, is how long will you do nothing?
A UN report on the health of the natural world, released on Monday, has laid bare the terrifying extent to which we’re destroying creation. We are currently in the midst of a mass extinction on a scale not seen since the dinosaurs were wiped out.
The headlines from the report make grim reading:
- One million species are at risk of extinction
- Three quarters of all land on Earth has been damaged by human activity
- Up to 400 million tonnes of heavy metals, solvents and toxic sludge are dumped into the waters of the world every year
But why should we care about nature when there are people suffering?
Because if we harm nature, we harm ourselves.
One third of all crop production on Earth relies on pollinators such as bees and other insects. Nearly eight hundred million people currently don’t have enough food to eat – if insect populations continue to decline, that number will skyrocket.
Furthermore, the report shows that 300 million people are being put at risk of flooding due to the loss of coral reefs and mangrove forests.
The clearing of rainforests releases huge amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, as well as reducing the Earth’s ability to absorb them – accelerating climate change. The loss of these habitats often displaces vulnerable indigenous communities.