It's Not Easy Being Green

How's a Christian to respond to the hot-button issue of the environment?

You could say my grandma was eco-friendly. Decades before caring about the environment was in vogue, she set her thermostat low and pulled on a sweater. She reused glass jars and tin cans for canning, baking, and crafts. She patched old clothes. When those became threadbare, she recycled the material to make rugs and potholders.

Yet if Grandma were alive today, she'd be perplexed by Al Gore PSAs, Prius-driving celebrities making "green" living trendy, and "eco-anxiety"—a new mental disorder characterized by intense fear about the dangers of global warming. Grandma probably never imagined commonsense simplicity (today called "conservation") would become a hot-button issue.

Taking Sides

The debate over environmentalism—specifically, global warming—has intensified over the past few years. Some Christian leaders assert the Bible mandates us to take responsibility for "Creation care"; others state that when God granted humans dominion over the earth, he gave us the right to use it. Many Christians express opinions that fall somewhere in between.

Two groups of evangelicals have been feuding over this issue for the past two years. They've held press conferences, released public statements, and sent letters to top government officials. This battle even drew extensive news coverage, including a PBS special report, "Is God Green?"

Both sides support their claims with climate experts and research data. The Evangelical Climate Initiative (ECI), whose members include Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life; Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals; Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine; and Bill Hybels, senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, believes human activities cause climate changes. An advocate of immediate carbon-emissions reduction, the ECI is asking U.S. leaders to pass laws requiring businesses to reduce emissions, and encouraging churches and individuals to purchase energy-efficient appliances and vehicles. Essentially it's saying, Be proactive. Measures taken today will lessen the potentially devastating effects of global warming in the future.

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May 25

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