Green Christians     Issue 43: Summer 2000

Green Christians is the main publication of Christian Ecology Link and exists to debate environmental matters in a Christian context. Please feel free to contribute articles, opinions and letters to the Editor .
    To obtain a copy of this summer's issue at a bargain rate, see the end of this page.



Scientists agree that water is remarkable stuff. The familiar sight of ice cubes floating in a glass demonstrates one of the most extraordinary natural phenomena: whilst most materials sink as they solidify when cooled, water expands as it freezes, and that is why it floats. This property enables life to continue below the ice in very cold weather. Water is also the biggest component of all living beings; our dependence on it is a fundemental as that on the air we breathe.

We react emotionally to water: it soothes us in the bubbling of streams and in the crashing of waves. We rejoice at long-awaited rain or despair as floods ruin our homes. Water is the backdrop of our existence, and with the imagery of the wellspring being used to describe God the Source of all life, it is hardly surprising that water is given so much significance in the Bible and in Christian liturgies.

Yet we do not treat it well. We have for centuries used the sea as a dump for waste we could not, or saw no reason to, manage otherwise; we have altered the biological balance of lakes and seas by over-fishing, and we have mismanaged inland resources of drinking water to suit our greed. We take water so much for granted that we fail to recognise its fundamental importance. Many people, never even drink pure water, only sugary or alcoholic drinks, and this removes us still further from it as a source of life.

Oceans cover around two thirds of the planetís surface area. They are less well understood than land, yet they hold the key to our weather and, most importantly, to the mechanism of global warming. What we do know confirms the importance of the biology of oceans to our global wellbeing, as as Roger Lankester explains. We see that they demonstrate, more than any other natural habitat, the Gaian principle that life on earth can continue without humans, but we humans must manage them better if we ourselves are to survive.

Water is the means by which global warming will gather pace via the great ocean pumps, and the means by which it will make itself felt with increasingly unpredictable rainfall patterns. These are already experienced in many poorer countries such as India, as Nicholas Grey reports. Corruption, the lure of rich, lifestyles, and an eschewing of ancient wisdom militate against sensible management of scarce water resources.

There are many signs that the will is there to improve matters. In Britain the Marine Stewardship Council exists to promote sustainable fishing; countries of the North Sea are trying to eliminate toxic chemical entering the sea. But more could still be done. The suggestion has been made (by whom?) that oceans should be the subject of an international treaty similar to the Montreal Protocol on ozone and the Kyoto global warming treaty. This would not be fail-safe but it would certainly give us a sense of the oceans to the proper importance of water. We need to work with nature, not against it: let us indeed look higher.

Copies of Green Christians 40 and Green Christians 40a and Green Christians 41, 42 and 43 can be obtained from Christian Ecology Link, 6, Bond Street, Lancaster, LA1 3ER, UK. For a trial copy of Green Christians (for people in the UK) please specify which issue is required and send an A4 size SAE and include four first-class stamps to cover costs - a bargain when the cover price is £1.50!

Contents of Green Christians 40 Summer 1999
Contents of Green Christians 40a Autumn 1999

Contents of Green Christians 41 Winter 1999/2000
Contents of Green Christians 42 Spring 2000
Contents of Green Christians 43 Summer 2000
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