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1998-2012. Use it for archive

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CEL sometimes gets asked questions by school pupils:-

Why do Christian Ecology Link care about the environment?

"Can you please tell me why Christian Ecology Link care about the environment because your website doesn't state it clearly.

I am doing a project on your work for school and need to know why you care?" H.

CEL's Web Editor (attempts to) replies:-

"God so loved the World that he gave his only son ..." John Ch3 v 16

"God made the world ...and saw that it was good" Genesis Ch.1

36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40

If you are writing an article or project answer in October 2010 and want to be topical, why not include mention of:

Dear H.

Christian Ecology Link is made up of its members, nearly all of whom are Christians.

Many joined CEL because they feel it is a Christian Responsibility to "care for the environment". They want to support and encourage other people, and to get encouragement and help from others who feel this.

There is A) one reason why people of all faiths and none care for the environment, and there are B) three reasons why Christians in for the environment in particular.

A) The one reason why nearly everyone cares for the environment
is because it has value: many types of value (money, agricultural, beauty, spiritual, heritage etc) - These values are shown in the table much lower down

B) The three reasons why Christians in particular care for the environment
are 1, to please God, 2, because the bible tells us to and 3. The church - all the main denominations - now recommend us to. These three reasons in more detail:-

1.  Christians want to do "good things" because they want to please God.

 Looking after the environment is "a good thing". (a just, loving, responsible thing. (Why is it a good thing? - see table lower down) .

2.   There are texts in the bible which say, both directly, and indirectly that we should look after the environment.

3. The main church denominations recommend we look after the environment, and I'll deal with some examples here:--

  • 3a. The fifth mark of mission is (simplified) "to treasure the environment" In 1984 the Anglican Consultative Council wrote four "Marks of Mission" (Helpful statements about what the church should be doing). A fifth was added in 1990. Churches (even non-Anglican ones) often refer to these when they make plans about what they should be doing.

    The fifth mark of mission is (simplified) "to treasure the environment" and in full: "To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life on earth.

    Members of CEL sometimes remind their churches about this when they are trying to encourage their churches to do green things

  • 3b. The Methodist Church has produced a booklet Hope in God's Future about climate change.

  • 3c. The Catholic Church launched an environmental justice paper on 8 Aug 2002 - Costing only £1-30 and with a beautiful cover (in 2002 at least), "The Call of Creation" aims to lay out Catholic Teaching on care for the environment and has been produced by the International Affairs Dept of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales.


1. Why it is a "Good thing" (whatever your faith or none) to care for the environment?:

People care for the environment because it has value to them :

  1. 1. Value:- money value; science value; food value- For lots of examples, see the box below
  2. Beauty and spiritual value. e.g. People enjoy climbing mountains; some are religiously inspired when in beautiful places. People in hospitals who have a view of trees or a garden often get better quicker than if they have no view. Some people find it easier to worship God in beautiful places. Having trees outside your house can increase the property value by 5%.
  3. Heritage to our grandchildren It is our heritage from our parents - but it is the heritage of our grandchildren - so we should not destroy it
  4. People get satisfaction from looking after the environment. (gardening, litter picking, farming, recording wild plants and animals)

So why do people allow the environment to get destroyed?

  1. Love for their families They think that they themselves and their family are more important than their grand children or future generations. e.g. People drive cars a lot to visit sick relatives or fly to visit relatives in Australia, in spite of knowing that it causes global warming. They use peat in the garden so their family can enjoy looking at their flowers - yet the UK peat bogs - a valuable wildlife habitat (and carbon store) - are being destroyed. They give their families eat excessive amounts of meat to eat - even though they know that the rainforest is being cut down to grow soya to feed UK cattle.
  2. Love for themselves (Selfishness) They think that their own enjoyment is more important. e.g. They enjoy eating meat, and driving cars.
  3. They mostly just don't think.
  4. Laziness:- They are too lazy to write protest letters to the government asking them to make more land nature reserves and marine nature reserves
  5. Lack of knowledge:- Some people don't understand that the environment is getting destroyed. But publicity about this is improving.
  6. Poverty, powerlessness:- Many people are so poor, or live in such bad situations, or are so powerless, they just do what they have to do to stay alive, regardless of their effect on the environment.
  7. Complexity:- Sometimes it is difficult to work out which is the most important part of the environment "to save". The environment is complex.
  8. More? Perhaps you can suggest more reasons?

More on why the environment is valuable:-

  1. Species extinctions:- Once a species has become extinct people will not be able to see it again.
  2. It is valuable money-wise. Because tropical forests and the fish in the sea are "free" people think they can use them up - but it costs millions - billions of pounds to get them back again.

    An important famous banker called Pavan Sukhdev is currently working for the United Nations. They have produced a report called TEEB which they will give to governments this October to show how important biodiversity is. (Biodiversity is the variety of life - genes, species ecosystems - our life support sytems).

    They have done studies and show that if we spend £1 to save nature the financial benefit will be £10 and in some cases the financial benefit will be £60 or £100.

    Another unpublished report by the UK consultants Trucost say that the combined cost of damage to the environment by the world's 3,000 biggest companies was $2.2 trillion in 2008. That is $2,200,000,000,000 or £1.400,000,000,000

  3. The environment provides services for us - e.g. the trees in the forest and the algae (seaweeds and micro-seaweeds) in the sea take carbon dioxide out of the air and make oxygen for us to breathe.

Here are some examples of vital services

  1. Without wild flowers the bees cannot live and we need bees to pollinate our crops (e.g. apples)
  2. Without soil we cannot grow crops - much of our soil is getting washed away into rivers and the sea
  3. Climate change:-With too much carbon dioxide (and methane and other special gases) in the air the temperature may rise too much and then the sea level will rise and flood our lowland areas and cities in the world.
  4. Wild varieties of crops:- If we loose all the wild and traditional varieties of wheat (and and rice and maize etc) we will no longer have a stock of genetic material from which to breed better varieties of wheat. Humans get almost 2/3 of their food energy (calories) from just these three cereal crops.
    For example:
    A wheat disease is now (in 2010) threatening world food stocks It is caused by a fungus called a Rust fungus (Scientific name: Puccinia graminis) . Scientists would like to be able to breed a new variety of wheat that is resistant to it, but it would be helpful if they could find a wild/traditional variety that is resistant to it. Farmers, especially in the Mediterranean and in the Middle East used to have lots of varieties of wheat and they kept these varieties going because they planted next years crop from their own seeds. But now most farmers just have to buy a few varieties of seeds from Multinational companies, and they have lost many of the wild/traditional varieties.
  5. Overfishing the sea. So the price of fish and chips will go up (even more!!). They used to fish for herring in the sea near Glasgow 60 years ago but now there are hardly any herring left there because they fished them all out. They did not leave enough big fish to breed. They built bigger and bigger fishing ships and had bigger and bigger nets. Now the small boats have machines which scrape along the sea bed to collect all the shrimps and scallops - but they are damaging all the sea bed so that all the other creatures cannot live there. The only places where the sea bed is not damaged is around the bases of Oil Rigs where the fishing boats cannot go ..

    We hope our government and other government will make some marine reserves -"No Go" areas where the fishermen will not damage the ocean bed.

Why do Christians care about the environment?

(This is my answer)

1.   Christians want to do "good things" because they want to please God.

Christians love other people and they love the world (nature) that God has made because He made it. Christians try to live their lives the way that they think God would like them to live. So they want future generations to be able to enjoy the beautiful world that God has created. They don't want future generations to live in a world that is spoiled and that has lost most of its wild species (Can you give more examples how it might be spoiled?)

We are accountable to God as to how we use our world.
Some Christians are concerned about how God will judge us when we die, or how God is judging us now. Spoiling the environment is a sin.

2.   There are texts in the bible which say, both directly, and indirectly that we should look after the environment.

"God made the world ...and saw that it was good" Genesis Ch.1

Therefore if God thinks the world is good, we too should look after it

"The Earth is the Lord's" Psalm 24 v1,

Therefore, we should look after it

"God so loved the World that he gave his only son ..." John Ch3 v 16

If God loved the world enough to send his son then we should look after it.

God said "Have dominion over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air." Genesis 1 v 28

Have dominion over means "rule over", "be responsible for" It does not mean destroy and kill and get rid of. " . We choose governments and MPs to "Rule" over us and organise our country - we don't expect our rulers to destroy everything.

With our increasingly big machines and ships and vast use of energy we are starting to rule the fish and the birds- but we must be good rulers.

Jesus's Commandments:-

36 "Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?" 37 Jesus replied: " 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments." Matthew 22:36-40

Our neighbour can be taken to include:-

People who will live in the world in 50 years time
Animals and Plants that cannot speak up for themselves
Poor people who are getting ill because they have to do dangerous things when growing cops for us: - e.g. use insecticides to grow cotton for us to wear, or bananas for us to eat, or flowers for us to put in vases.

Here are some links to websites which give lots of these verses (more links coming soon )

I thank one has to be careful to read the verses "in context" (i.e. think about who they were written for and why.)- because there are also other verses in the bible which appear to be against the environment / animals and plants.

I hope this is helpful.

And I hope you have opportunity to go and play outside where there is grass and trees, and go for walks in the countryside and to support Wildlife organisations.

Judith Allinson. Web Editor




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