Green Christians     Issue 44: Winter 2000/2001

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 winter's issue at a bargain rate, see the end of this page.


     Christianity and the population debate donít mix well. Many Christians would probably prefer not to discuss it, and the commitment of some denominations to the sanctity of human life means that the valuing of each human life must prevail over bare statistics about overall numbers. Yet statistics can be telling: it took only 12 years for the world population to climb from 5 billion, 1987, to 6 billion in 1999 (1). Can we cope with such rapid increase if it continues?

       Overpopulation is a social issue with serious environmental implications. In this edition of Green Christians, we have been unashamedly green - the planet faces the possibility of overcrowding: what are we to do? Increased human numbers lead to increased consumption of ever scarcer resources, with all the environmental consequences this entials. John Guillebaud, in the first article, draws an elegant parallel with poverty, while Anne Thompson, later, emphasises the importance of womenís health and education. We also touch on the question of refugees to this country, many of whom may be motivated to travel by overcrowding or poverty caused by environmental destruction. Human migration will probably increase as global warming takes hold, and we cannot divorce the people from the planet in which they live.

       The effects of overcrowding could perhaps be mitigated for a time by improved land distribution, with more equitable spreading of resources, or by devoting more land to crops for direct human consumption rather than feeding to animals which is more wasteful. But even with this, most environmentalists will argue that we must also actively take steps to limit our numbers. How this is achieved, and how it is to be fitted into our faith, is the subtext of our thinking in this issue.

       Humans are surprisingly subject to their biological natures. While we may not be aware of overcrowding on a personal level, yet there is in Western society an increased acceptance of marital breakdown, of the decision of individuals or couples to remain childless, of same-sex relationships and, whatever the churches may think, of abortion. Much this tends unconsciously towards a limiting of human numbers. Some thinkers even like to advance apocalyptic conjectures about our future: a species that is seriously overcrowded is more prey to disease and infighting, and this may already be happening to us.

       However, statistics or no, we are nevertheless a redeemed people. It is Christian thinking, among other influences, that has led to a cherishing of individual lives that goes beyond any estimation of their apparent usefulness or worth. This is not survival of the fittest, but life for all: in Jesus Christ the Darwinian concept of evolution is transcended and we are loved as we are. Can we translate Christís love into responsibility for the future of the world? Can we, for the sake of those who will populate the planet long after we are gone, take care to live lightly, that they may live too?

       (1) The Independent, 23/9/99.

Agree? Disagree? The Editor would like to hear from you: write to Stephanie Boucher at

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! Write to Christian Ecology Link, 6, Bond Street, Lancaster, LA1 3ER, UK.

Contents of Green Christians 44 Winter 2000/2001
Contents of Green Christians 43 Summer 2000
Contents of Green Christians 42 Spring 2000
Contents of Green Christians 41 Winter 1999/2000
Contents of Green Christians 40a Autumn 1999

Contents of Green Christians 40 Summer 1999

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