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07 March 2016

Protecting the planet - privilege or pressure?

Protecting the planet - privilege or pressure?

By James, a year 9 pupil at Thames Christian College

Sadly, global warming is real. By that I mean there is too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, causing an effect on our climate. We can see that ice is melting worldwide, and that the number of Adélie Penguins has decreased dramatically, from 32,000 to 11,000 breeding pairs. If this warming continues, hurricanes and other storms are likely to become stronger, diseases such as malaria will spread and fresh water will become less available.

Growing up, I've always had some sort of idea about global warming. It's never frightened me as such, but more made me think that there's just not that much we can do to help. I first heard about it when I was about six, when my music teacher told us to switch off lights if you are not using them to save the polar bears. The use of electricity contributes massively to global warming and light pollution, mainly resulting in a warmer earth and artificially coloured sky. I believe now that global warming is an issue and it is important to prevent it.

However, it's not as severe as some people say. There is only 0.04 per cent of carbon dioxide in the entire atmosphere. This is only a 0.01 per cent rise from the 0.03 per cent there was previously, although this is still an increase of a third. This means the world is not immediately going to come to an end or become flooded because of global warming. The main problem seems to be what the world would be like if it continues long enough.

What does the Bible say about our relationship with our environment? Many Christians believe that because God created the world, it's up to us to look after it. Even though global warming is a very recent problem, the Bible does talk about the state of the world. It says that the earth's main rhythms will stay the same: "While the earth remains, seed time and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease." (Genesis 8:22)

When I was asked if I resented previous generations for leaving the planet like this, it made me realise that we wouldn't be where are now without the Industrial Revolution and our advances in technology. It seems almost impossible for any nation to develop as a modern country and create prosperity without products that contribute to global warming. Now however, because of our advances, we have discovered alternative energy sources that big developing countries such as China are beginning to use alongside traditional forms of energy. Despite this, many people resent the Industrial Revolution and think it was just a time of dirt and pollution, where coal was burnt and the streets filled with soot. We need to take into account that many great inventions were thought of then, and we sometimes fail to realise that we burn even more fossil fuels now, despite knowing the risk of global warming. In our materialistic society we consume more, using more plastic bags and other materials that are bad for the environment.

Just recently, before Christmas, a series of heavy rainfall led to extreme flooding in the UK. This was only one of many floodings throughout the last 10 years. In the summer floods of 2007, 48,461 homes were flooded. In 2014, we had the wettest January since 1766. In the most recent floods, around 16,000 houses were flooded. There are many factors that can cause flooding and many think global warming plays a major part in this. The question is: by how much? According to The Guardian newspaper, researchers at Oxford University and the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute calculated that man-made climate change was partly responsible for storm Desmond's torrential rain. If global warming is the cause, the flood statistics make me realise that global warming is not just something that involves people in other countries and in some other time, but it affects us here and now.

The government acted by putting up safety measures; the flood defences had protected over 20,000 houses. They sent the army to help protect homes and people, by putting up sandbags and flood defences. Aside from the government though, what can we do? We can help by fundraising or donating to charities, such as National Flood Forum, that help communities to prepare or recover from floodings.

It's too late to change what has happened in the past, but now we know of the risk of global warming, we shouldn't procrastinate or leave things to others, but instead start doing small things that will improve our pollution and emitted fuel rates. Future research and education may provide a solution, but in the meantime we shouldn't just wait. There are many ways of helping the environment, even the most simple things like recycling, taking public transport instead of a car or even better, walk or cycle to work. Eating less red meat also significantly helps, as cows take up valuable space that could be used for crops, and the methane produced has devastating results for the atmosphere. Picking up litter can help and campaigning against animal trafficking will also help our wildlife. We could also campaign and raise awareness of global warming and how everyone can help.

Is this a pressure or privilege?  "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good." (Genesis 1:31). Sometimes we get so caught up in what might happen and what will happen if we can't prevent global warming, or trying to save the world, that we forget how beautiful this world is and how privileged we are to live in it. Trying to make the world a better place is a challenge, but we are also privileged to look after God's world and help the future generations. There is an opportunity for change and how much of an honour would it be to make this world better? Philippians 2:15 says: "That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world". Finally, remember to be thankful. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

Read more about evangelical views on the environment and articles on ethical consuming in the March/April edition of idea magazine, by clicking the link here

Find out more about Thames Christian College here: www.thameschristiancollege.org.uk.