Shortly after creating man and woman in His image, God issued his first commandments. “And God blessed them and God said unto them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth’” (Genesis 1:28 KJV). We have done well regarding the first: by most estimates global population topped 7.7 billion this year. But we are failing miserably at the second. Smog often obscures the mountains near Denver. The air is frequently unbreathable in Beijing. Evidence for global warming continues to mount.
On Friday last week thousands of youth world-wide skipped school and went to the streets to protest climate change. Australia led the way with protestors urging their country to take major steps to curtail greenhouse emissions. Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and liquefied natural gas. Thousands of youth marched past number 10 Downing Street in London to draw attention to the issue. More than 500 events were planned in Germany, including a mass demonstration at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. Across the United States students skipped school to demonstrate in all 50 states. The largest was held in New York, led by 15-year-old Swedish student Greta Thunberg who refused to fly from Sweden to New York, taking a zero-emissions yacht instead.
With the recent 50 year anniversary of the Moon landing we have been inspired again by the Apollo 8 photo of the earth rising above the stark landscape of the moon against the black backdrop of space. That image captured the unique essence of our planet. While there may be habitable zones around stars light years away, there is no observable planet in the universe like Earth.
The secret to our existence is the thin layer of atmosphere protecting the surface from the vacuum of space. It absorbs ultraviolet solar radiation, regulates temperature extremes between day and night and provides the means for water to be distributed across the dry land. Seventy-five percent of the atmosphere lies with 6.8 miles of the earth’s surface. It is this layer that sustains our life. It can only absorb so much pollution before it malfunctions and Earth becomes uninhabitable for all animal and plant life, including man.
David wrote, “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, And also the ]beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas” (Psalm 8:3-8).
God has placed in our hands all the beauty of creation that reflects His glory. He has ordained that humankind should have the awesome authority and responsibility of safeguarding, protecting and nourishing all that He has made on the earth. We must not fail in this divine charge God has given us.