It was 1968 and everybody was scared anyway. Sons and brothers were dying in rice paddies in an unpopular war, kids were hopped up on weed, LSD and heroin, cities were ablaze, national guard troops were sweeping across university campuses with rifles leveled, and the background music to it all seemed bewildering to anybody over 30. A generation gloomily hummed Barry McQuire’s Eve of Destruction as it marched toward the cliff’s edge.
Into this powder keg of alarm Stanford scientist Paul Ehlich tossed his bestseller The Population Bomb. In apocalyptic tones he predicted that hundreds of millions of the world’s people would die of starvation in the 1970’s and ’80’s. Not a call to action, the author wrote that this WOULD happen “…in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.” 2 million readers bought the book and worried.
The rationale seemed solid. How could food production possibly keep up with the world’s exploding population? It had doubled from 2 billion to 4 billion in a single generation, and seemed set to do so again. Ehlich proposed radical solutions like starving any country that refused to implement population controls. He claimed most scientists shared his fatalistic predictions.
He wasn’t even close.
42 years later with the world’s population approaching 7 billion, food production in both developed and developing countries has far outstripped population growth. The main obstacle to producing enough food is not the birth rate Ehrlich worried about, but political chaos.
The current discussion about global warming (sorry, climate change) has some similar markings: all the scientists agree, the specter is certain doom, it will be a worldwide cataclysm unless we take radical, immediate, and enormously expensive action–which will inevitably hurt the poorest in the world.
I don’t begin to have the scientific intelligence or vocabulary to debate the merits of scientific convictions that have become relatively uniform in the last 35 years. But as a Christian I look at everything through the lens of Scripture. Skeptics of the Bible will dismiss my point of view. But my words are mainly for Christians who believe the Book is God’s revelation–and therefore accurate about whatever it mentions. It tells us all sorts of things about faith–even faith about the future of climate change.
All the scientists–even the ones frustrated by the alarmism–admit the climate’s changed. What they dispute is that humans are mostly to blame because of carbon emissions from fossil fuels. And they dispute that it will lead the world to ruin unless we do something drastic; Kyoto and Cap & Trade legislation come to mind. They suggest our weather changes are normal and cyclical and will not result in a world-destroying–or even radically altering, calamity.
On Sunday I’ll be preaching from Revelation 8 about God’s first 4 trumpet judgments which are massive, nearly global environmental calamities unleashed not long before Jesus returns; loosed on what appears to be a rather normal, prosperous earth with lush greenery and fruit trees–not an earth inundated by the consequences of global warming (sorry, climate change).
But it is 2 Peter 3:7 that specifically rejects the notion that man can do something cataclysmic to this planet while God looks on helplessly: …the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. “Reserved” and “kept”. In other words, people cannot so damage the planet that they thwart God’s future plans.
Yes, we are still stewards of the earth and should take care of it like Adam was supposed to. But abject fear is not warranted for the Christian who believes the Bible. God has a future plan, is still in control, and has no intentions of permitting His handiwork to derail that plan. It’s “reserved”, it’s “kept”.