Global warming has been a hot topic in recent months. Politicians have grafted the subject into their political platforms; scientists’ warnings are penetrating more minds; the mainstream media are paying the subject a lot of attention. But with all this coverage, the issue has become highly contested and highly politicized.
Though many politicians are no doubt genuinely concerned, how many are simply using this subject as a political weapon to maim the opposition? Many scientists firmly believe global warming is hurting our environment; other scientists don’t. How serious is the problem? Politics clouds the issue so much that answering this question has become incredibly difficult.
But there is clarity buried in the confusion about global warming and its impact on the environment if we are prepared to set aside politics. Firstly, there is no denying that planet-wide environmental degradation is occurring and is a serious concern. Secondly, as we will show, global warming is not the root cause of this degradation. Rather, global warming is a component of a more dire issue.
Effects of Environmental Degradation
The extent of global environmental degradation today is evidenced by the barrage of natural catastrophes occurring around the world.
Look at Europe. This past summer, Britain and much of continental Europe were wracked with devastatingly hot and dry conditions that ruined large swaths of cropland. British gardeners were warned in September that the English country garden will be a memory of the past within 20 years. In Italy, melting glaciers mean that skiers will soon have to climb beyond 2,000 meters to find snow. Even as far north as Greenland, temperatures got so warm that barley began to grow in the normally ice-clad nation—an occurrence not seen since the Middle Ages.
Farther south, in the Mediterranean Sea, water temperatures warmed to the point where swarms of jellyfish plagued tourists along the coast of Spain. In the famous water city of Venice, rising water levels are spurring urgent meetings on how to prevent the city from drowning. Such meetings are also being held by worried engineers in the Netherlands.
Similar problems plagued Africa, already the poorest continent on Earth. As the Independent reported, “Natural disasters, extreme weather, floods and droughts have always been common in southern Africa, but the severity of the wet and dry periods is intensifying with disastrous results” (Sept. 15, 2006). Massive droughts in the Horn of Africa in the past year killed much of the region’s wildlife and disrupted the migration patterns of animals and birds.
In Kenya, soaring temperatures and drought conditions drove herdsmen to war over the few surviving cattle. On the other hand, extreme drought in Ethiopia was broken by torrential rain and devastating flooding that caused river banks to overflow, drowning more than 800 people.
North America also suffered. “In Alaska there has been millions of dollars of damage to buildings and roads caused by melting permafrost. The region has been blighted by the world’s largest outbreak of spruce bark beetles, normally confined to warmer climes. Rising sea levels have forced the relocation of Inuit villages, and polar bears have been drowning because of shrinking sea ice. The caribou population is in steep decline due to earlier spring and the west is suffering one of the worst droughts for 500 years” (ibid.).
For much of the summer, more than 60 percent of the United States suffered from drought or abnormally dry conditions. Other areas had devastating floods that caused millions of dollars in damage. In Hawaii, the island’s famous coral reefs are being destroyed by large-scale bleaching.
South America is walking the same path. “Last year, the largest river in the world [the Amazon] was reduced to a trickle by an unprecedented drought. This year sand banks have already appeared in the deltas of the Amazon and fears are rising that a drought cycle that was previously measured in multiples of decades may now be an annual event” (ibid.). Unusually dry conditions are disturbing the fragile ecosystem of the Amazon forest, driving animals and plants to extinction and ruining the health of the forest known as the lungs of the Earth.
“In the Peruvian Andes the alpacas that have for centuries provided indigenous farmers with a means of survival have died in cold snaps where temperatures plummeted to -30 _c. In the summer, melted glaciers revealed rock faces burnt red by their first contact with direct sunlight” (ibid.).
Then there is Australasia. Large sections of Australia’s traditionally productive agricultural regions are drying up. Farmers are being forced to buy water and truck it to their farms. The drought is rampant from one end of the nation to the other. In some states, it is the worst in decades; in others, such as Western Australia, it is the worst on record.
In New Zealand, floods, snowstorms and harsh weather caused millions of dollars in damage this past winter.
Then there is Asia, where climate change is notably evident. Rivers in Afghanistan have dried up. Crops in India have failed so consistently that farmers are committing suicide. Potentially the worst damage is occurring in the Himalayas, where glaciers are melting. “Several glacier lakes have already burst in Nepal and Bhutan. The disappearance of the glaciers could dry up major rivers as far away as China, India and Vietnam” (ibid.).
It is impossible to deny that serious and alarming environmental crises are impacting every corner of the Earth. Weather disasters and their resulting crises are killing hundreds of thousands, even millions of people, and wreaking billions of dollars’ worth of damage.
Contrary to popular belief, however, global warming is not the fundamental cause of all these environmental crises.
Rejection of Law
The issue of global warming is blinding the media, scientists and politicians to the real cause of our environmental and agricultural catastrophes. Though global warming is producing environmental disaster, it is not the primary and fundamental cause of these problems.
The root cause of global environmental disasters lies in mankind’s flagrant rejection of the physical laws governing environmental and agricultural management. Added to this, the weather and environmental curses besieging our globe are a result of mankind’s widespread disobedience to God’s spiritual law.
Our planet, together with all of its physical components and processes, is governed by physical laws. Weather patterns, animal reproduction, agriculture, forests, oceans—all these are governed by physical laws, the laws of chemistry, physics, biology and so on.
These laws were designed by God when He created Earth.
God is the mastermind behind the successful and healthy operation of this planet. He is the author of its physical laws. The Apostle Paul taught that God’s creative abilities are evident in the magnificent and intricate physical creation that is Earth (Romans 1:19-20). Environmental blessings and success come from obedience and a willingness to live within and respect the physical laws that govern our planet.
The basis of these laws is outlined in God’s instruction manual for operating His creation. In the Bible God provides specific environmental laws such as how to care for fruit trees, when to plant crops, when to rest the land, even laws designed to protect nesting birds. There are laws about property and land rights. Added to these laws about managing the environment and agriculture are laws about economics. God revealed a definite and practical economic system.
The overriding principle these laws are based upon is the principle of give. For 6,000 years, in relation to the environment, as in all other areas, mankind has operated on the principle of get. Whether he is stripping the soil of its fertility through monoculture, chemical use and wrong farming practices, the deforestation of huge swaths of land, or churning out into the environment vast quantities of pollutants, man has abused his environment in order to produce more—to get more—all the while neglecting to take care of it. Greed has led man to destroy the environment God gave him to dress and to keep.
Mankind today thinks it can get away with ecological law-breaking. Rapid technological development and intellectual advancement have caused men to believe they can break physical laws without penalty. We have been breaking the laws that govern the environment and agriculture for so long that we think there are no penalties—but there are. It has taken years, even hundreds of years, but mankind’s history of raping the environment and abusing the physical laws that govern its stable and healthy existence is catching up with us.
That’s what these global environmental crises are: the results of our law-breaking.
Beyond suffering the consequences for our poor environmental and agricultural management and rejection of the physical laws that govern this Earth, the environmental catastrophes plaguing mankind are also curses brought upon us for our individual and national sins. It is a godly principle that men are blessed for obedience and cursed for disobedience (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28). Read these chapters and see the environmental and agricultural destruction that God specifically tells us are curses for disobedience. Devastated crops and infertile land are curses for disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:16-18). Debilitating temperatures and rampant drought are also curses (verses 23-24).
The root cause of the widespread environmental devastation overtaking this planet is not global warming. The root cause is mankind’s widespread rejection of the physical laws governing the Earth, and of the spiritual law of God. Therefore, the fundamental solution to our natural disasters does not lie in managing carbon dioxide emissions or driving our cars less. The solution to these crises lies in mankind respecting the physical laws that govern this planet—and, far more importantly, repenting before God and embracing the spiritual laws designed by God to bring health and happiness into our lives.
For a scriptural study on how to implement that solution in your own life, order a free copy of our booklet Repentance Toward God.