What could be more natural than to love our planet? Of course, there are selfish people who think only of their immediate convenience by littering and abusing resources, but from the beginning of creation, the Lord had given a task to Adam that is part of our human constitution: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gn.2:15) So, the Lord created us to be ecological by balancing the needs of humanity and the environment.
It is also natural for us to cultivate, to make living things grow, but modern society has become detached from agrarian life. Urbanites may have potted plants and a pet, but we now buy our produce in the store and throw away the packaging. Still, we generally try to avoid waste and to be conservative with the gifts of God. Aware that exploitation is disruptive, we forbid it by law.
Environmentalism has been pondered for centuries, but when I was born, the term was hardly used. Since then, it has grown in importance at a rapid pace because people are increasingly worried about pollution and scarcity. Now, students in college major in this field because jobs in it abound.
We certainly need to conserve our resources and recycle some of them, but do environmentalists go too far sometimes? Every cardinal virtue is between excess and defect. Moderation is righteous, but occasionally radicals, claiming to be the prophets of justice, have convinced governments to fill books with regulations constricting the use of natural resources. You may or may not feel constricted yourself, yet many industries do. Sometimes minerals, plants and animals are protected at the unfair expense of humanity. Some activists even care less about the unborn than whales or trees. The worst extremists go so far as to promote contraception to restore the ecological balance by reducing the human population!
Green puritans are people so obsessed by the environment that they are self-righteous hypocrites not unlike some Pharisees in the Bible. They take the joy out of life as much as the English Puritans took the joy out of Christianity in the 17th century. They are so determined to save the planet that they forget about souls. They are so concerned about nature that they forget the supernatural power of God. They are severe with themselves and others, not appreciating divine providence and grace. When dubious things are treated as absolutely necessary, tyranny results. Hence, Green Puritans conduct witch hunts and trials like those at Salem, becoming quite hostile and threatening to anyone who does not accept their proselytizing and abide by their ecological gospel.
Green Puritans generally worship health, so they condemn tobacco and perhaps even alcoholic beverages as well. Even temperate use is considered to be a “sin” to be taxed at higher rates. Moreover, the list of commonly used “goods” that have been denounced continues to grow, changing modern culture. For example, some vegans condemn those who eat meat because they feel that animals are people too! Do they condemn God, then, who commanded the eating of lambs? Do they condemn Jesus Who spoke about slaughtering the fattened calf for a feast?
May God bless those dedicated to eating exotic things, but if they try to convince me that I am not eating rightly, that too is an injustice. Personally, I am fond of simple American food. In my opinion, a starch is either potatoes, pasta or rice. I could not care less about quinoa, farro, yucca or polenta. If I want whole grain, I eat a bowl of cereal, but I will not spoil a fine piece of fish or meat with something that tastes like roughage thrown to hogs. To get nutrients, they can drink kale smoothies, but I find that vitamin pills are much easier to swallow and far more potent. Besides, organic foods scare me because they lack the good chemicals and preservatives that processed foods contain.
Plastics as we know it only appeared in the world when I was a child. I grew up with glass bottles and wooden toys, but now we are surprised about fees for plastic bags at the grocery store or regulations forbidding straws! Even handy Styrofoam coffee cups are being replaced with biodegradable paper cups that burn your fingers. We do our best to manage things, but may God save us from the horde that nags us to separate aluminum, paper and plastic, after washing each item before discarding it in the proper bin.
Back in the day when all light bulbs were incandescent, many were left on 24 hours per day in large buildings, but now that we have bulbs that use a fraction of that energy, we may find ourselves groping in the darkness. Besides, driving a car that burns gasoline leaves a so-called “carbon footprint” that is supposedly too big.
Indeed, we are told that fossil fuels are ruining the atmosphere and that it will change the climate. Some go so far as to predict an apocalyptic end of Mother Earth! A basic course in geology is enough to know, however, that climate is cyclical, going from warm times to glacial periods every few thousand years. So, there is no need to be alarmed.
Ultimately, saving the planet is a futile occupation because God has already told us that the world is doomed. (1Cor.7:31; 1Jn.2:17; Rv.21:1) Earth will pass away. Astronomers tell us that it is inevitable in millions of years, but even if it happens soon due to an asteroid or nuclear war, we still do not have the right to trash the planet in the meantime.
Don’t get me wrong: we should all be ecological and respect the environment, but can we please exercise a bit of moderation and bring joy back into life, using the gifts of God with peace in our hearts? After all, the planet exists for humanity, not humanity for the planet.