Magazine article The Christian Century

Scorched Earth

Magazine article The Christian Century

Scorched Earth

Article excerpt

HOW IS IT POSSIBLE to read the first chapter of the Bible and not be an environmentalist? The stunning and unique affirmations of Genesis 1 point to a creation that is good, one that reflects the being and will of God. The first and primary human moral obligation is to take care of the place. How can people who believe that the Bible is or contains the word of God ignore this directive?

In the U.S., it is a particularly dicey time for those concerned about the environment given the fractured political atmosphere and the absence of rational discourse in the primary election campaign. Sandra Steingraber presses to revive the conversation. In an interview (p. 22), she discusses the environmental crisis we are in and puts it in ethical context. She invokes one of my personal heroes, Presbyterian minister and newspaper publisher Elijah Lovejoy, who opposed slavery and was killed in a proslavery riot in the 1830s.

Steingraber calls President Obama's recent override of EPA protections against smog pollution the worst decision the administration has made. Smog leads to ozone, she reminds us, and "ozone kills people--elders and infants disproportionately." The dilemma is that our economy has become dependent on ruinously destructive practices. Steingraber calls our dependency on fossil fuels a "homicidal abomination."

So why aren't we talking about this? Why have global warming and environmental concerns disappeared from the political agendas of both parties? In the October 16 New York Times, reporter Elisabeth Rosenthal observed that as recently as the 2008 presidential election, both candidates John McCain and Barack Obama warned about human-influenced global warming and publicly supported legislation to curb emissions. …

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