Sunday, November 11, 2007

Caring for God’s Creation

    There is a BBC production that I highly recommend called “Planet Earth.” My library has it and I’ve been watching it a lot lately. It is a 5-DVD series, four of which teach about various ecosystems (shallow seas, plains, jungles, deep ocean, etc.), and the fifth giving analysis and commentary. I’ve only seen two DVDs so far, but I’m hooked. 
     The video footage is simply stunning, revealing places and organisms I’ve never seen before. My kids sit and watch because of the beautiful shots of amazing animals. I also enjoy the narration, which is informative, interesting, and in a pleasant voice. I feel like I’m taking a biology class, but this time I like it!
      My overwhelming feelings at the end of each episode are 1) WOW at God’s creation – the beauty, complexity, and interdependence, and 2) shame of how humanity (myself included) has plowed ahead with our industrialization and insatiable desires even though we are disrupting and endangering the very ecosystems that sustain us.
      I’m not an extreme environmentalist, and I certainly don’t value nature just for nature’s sake (though it’s tempting after watching these videos!). I care about people and ache deeply at the living conditions of much of the world. But we are all intertwined. My habits and lifestyle as an American affect people in developing countries. Their industries affect the environment. And when the environment suffers, all of us suffer. 
      In addition to the BBC series, I’m reading two books called “Lives Per Gallon” (by Terry Tamminen) and “When the Rivers Run Dry” (by Fred Pearce) which discuss the consequences of “petroleum addiction” and water over-use respectively. I’ve only read a chapter or two in each, but it’s enough to make me concerned and anxious to change if I can. Steve and I are cutting back on our car travel and increasing our recycling efforts, and I plan to look for more ways soon as I read these books. 
      One concept that was new to me was “virtual water,” which means the water it takes to produce the crops that make the food and goods we import and export. For example, it takes “130 gallons of water to grow a pound of wheat, 250-650 gallons to grow a pound of rice, and 3000 gallons to grow the feed for enough cow to make a quarter-pound hamburger” (Pearce 3-4). It’s easy to think that water will always be with us, especially when we live in places where we have running water. But it’s not true. 
       Pearce’s second chapter describes the Rio Grande river as essentially drying up from El Paso to a place where a Mexican river feeds into it. And the rest of his book will describe other river emergencies, as well as the depletion of underground water sources. I’d always thought of water conservation before in terms of reducing my home use, but now I’ll think more in terms of what I eat and buy, and how much water it took a farmer to produce that for me. 
      It’s something to think about… watch the videos so you get inspired about creation, and then read the challenging books so you get concerned enough to do something!


Ali said...

Is this the one you're talking about?

Lisa Blyth Gertz said...

I went to Oprah's site and found a description of Planet Earth TV series by Discovery Channel and BBC. I have since spoken with a friend from church, who criticized the show because it's "too evolution-based," but as I tend to lean more towards a symbolic 7-day creation, I guess it didn't bother me so much. FYI.

ErinOrtlund said...

Interesting! Keep posting about this as you learn more--I feel like there are changes we can make too.