Social Justice and the Politcs of Global Warming.

Recently, I had a very interesting conversation with George, a fellow alumni and friend from my days at the College of Charleston. George and I lost contact after graduation from COC, but thanks to the wonders of Facebook, we have started conversing again.  For me at least, the experience has been enlightening.  Back in the day, George and I had a very similar vision of the world.  Back then I was a social, political, personal and theological conservative.    I thought homosexuality was a sin akin to addiction, I consistently voted for Republicans, I didn’t date interracially (under threat of being disowned by the family), and I knew that certain people (the unsaved, those of different faiths, and Sinners)  were definitely going to hell in a hand-basket.

Things have changed considerably in the intervening 18 years.  Hopefully, I have gained more wisdom, humility,and forgiveness.  Though I am not longer a conservative, I do not consider myself to be a radical liberal, either.   I like the term “moderate independent.”   I have a love affair with guns and the first and second amendment rights, a great skepticism of government programs supported by big business, and a desire to live my life unfettered by excessive taxes or regulation.   At the same time, I see a need for the a strong government and a strong military. I also think we need the government to create bounds to contain the negative excesses of greed, power, and prejudices.   Basically, I am every politicians dream because I am a swing voter who VOTES.   I am also every politicians nightmare, because I read voraciously, and I participate in politics by writing to my representatives, working with political and lobbying groups, and by putting my money and my votes where my mouth is.   I also judge the effectiveness and responsiveness of my elected officials.  If I don’t like what I see, I start looking for a new representative.

George, bless his sweet soul, does not  appeared to  have mellowed with age, at least not in the same fashion as I have. If anything, I get the impression he has gotten more radicalized as he has gotten older.  The difference in our world views and opinions has created a challenging space for our renewed friendship.  Many of our political discussions have ended with us agreeing to disagree.

Case in point, George and I had a long, online conversation about the science behind the global warming debate. George is firmly convinced that all of the science surrounding  global warming is false. He is convinced that there is a great conspiracy falsifying the science surrounding the global warming debate by the powerful and elite.  Those in power and those who want to be in power are using the environment and the melting icecaps to create laws  and institutions which remove or reduce the freedoms of the average person while allowing the rich and elite to continuing business as usual.    The plethora of scientific research showing the negative impact of humans on the environment is  a lie according to this point of view.   We humans are incapable of radically altering the environment to that extent, and the environmental changes we are seeing are normal, natural global changes.  His is an intriguing position, but I cannot agree with him.

Though I can site numerous scientific papers, journal articles, books, documentary films and the like to back up my position, the basis of my opinion is not the scientific studies of others. My opinion is based on my own day to day experiences living in the country, growing foods and animals and my belief that God calls us to be stewards of the world and of creation.   Like many people with a close connection with the land, I experience on a daily basis the impact that humanity has upon the land.  I can see the changes that my presence has wrought on the small 12 acre plot of land upon which I live.   I see plants and animals live and die, changes in soil composition and erosion, and changes in the migration of animals. Little choices I make, like choosing to feed the feral cat, have huge impacts (ie, and exploding population of cats until we trapped and “fixed” all of the cats).  We make a difference.  Though some of the changes I cause may be temporary (trees will grow back), some are not (the eroded soil will not come back up the hill).  As a steward of this land, it is my responsibility to care for the land and do what I can to mitigate the negative impacts of my presence upon this land.

The stewardship of the land is a microcosm of the stewardship of the world.  What we do does make a difference.   Whether the raising temperature of the world is a natural process or not, we humans are accelerating the process.  If there is something I can do as an individual or as a memeber of soicety to midigate the negative impact I am have on the environment, then I will do what I can to help.  This translates into growing as much as my own food as I am able, buying food from sustainable, local sources, heating w/ sustainable sources (wood and solar), and supporting local business when I am able.   I also support legislation which supports and develops new, sustainable energy sources, particularly those which do not use food or petroleum sources. I also fight legislation or government programs (like NAIS)  which attack or limit the rights or opportunities of small sustainable farmers while supporting huge agribusinesses which are some of the worst polluters of our state and land. I cannot guarantee that my individual efforts will have much of an effect, but with enough individual’s efforts, radical changes can occur.

George may think my efforts are destined to be wasted.   He may be right, who knows?  I kind of hope he is.  You see, if he is right and we do nothing, it will not be the end of the world.  However, If I am right, and we do nothing, then the world as we know it will literally cease to exist.  As I explained to George,  I figure I’m taking the conservative route and hedging my bets.  Our efforts will not destroy the world or civilization, but we just might save it.

So, the question becomes,  what are you doing to be a good steward of your world and God’s creation?

~ by sideseat on December 30, 2009.

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