Thursday, April 19, 2007

On Kindness and Saving The Earth

Everyone is talking about what happened at Virginia Tech. All I will say is that it is a mistake to characterize Cho as "a madman" or "crazy" as some have done. To do so keeps us from asking the right questions.

I may comment about what happened in the future but not now. People are in a state of shock and grief. It is not the time for analysis nor a time to demonize Cho, but a time to pray for those who have lost their loved ones. Ultimately, this event calls us to be real in our lives, and to be as kind to each other - including strangers - as humanly possible.
What doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy god? Micah 6:8


I have written before on the need for Christians to spearhead a movement of environmental activism. Sadly, that need is more urgent than previously thought.

It appears that, in regard to global warming, the release of methane into our atmosphere is the big "sleeper" threat that has not been publicized.

Scientists have documented that methane has been "pushing up" under the ocean, as the ocean has warmed, creating pockets - underground volcanoes if you will - and they bode ill for our future.

The reason for the concern is because, as the seas warm and the gas expands, those underground extrusions must eventually burst releasing methane into the atmosphere.

What does this portend?

"A warning of" what this could mean "occurred in 1986 when lake Nyos in Cameroon 'burped' an amount of gases killing 1800 people, following a much smaller scale disaster on neighbouring lake Monoun two years earlier, which killed 37 people.

While carbon dioxide has been fingered as the main culprit, there seems to have been a "fiery" component to the eruption indicating possible presence of combustible methane: "Skin discoloration found on some victims were tentatively interpreted as burns, but this diagnosis is still controversial. Witnesses on topographic highs report a loud noise originating from the lake and, in the case of lake Nyos, flashes of light visible over the lake".

Worse, Greenland's glacier is melting faster than it was thought "like a bathtub with holes drilled into its bottom." This means global warming could be happening far faster than people realize. If so, the release of methane may be inevitable because much methane is stored in permafrost and, as more permafrost melts, more methane will be released.

As John Acheson writes:

"How likely is it that humans will cause methane burps by burning fossil fuels? No one knows. But it is somewhere between possible and likely at this point, and it becomes more likely with each passing year that we fail to act.

So forget rising sea levels, melting ice caps, more intense storms, more floods, destruction of habitats and the extinction of polar bears. Forget warnings that global warming might turn some of the world's major agricultural areas into deserts and increase the range of tropical diseases, even though this is the stuff we're pretty sure will happen."

Once triggered, this cycle could result in runaway global warming the likes of which even the most pessimistic doomsayers aren't talking about.

The granddaddy of these catastrophes occurred 251 million years ago, at the end of the Permian period, when a series of methane burps came close to wiping out all life on Earth.

More than 94 percent of the marine species present in the fossil record disappeared suddenly as oxygen levels plummeted and life teetered on the verge of extinction. Over the ensuing 500,000 years, a few species struggled to gain a foothold in the hostile environment. It took 20 million to 30 million years for even rudimentary coral reefs to re-establish themselves and for forests to regrow. In some areas, it took more than 100 million years for ecosystems to reach their former healthy diversity.

As news media continue to focus all attention on the death of the 31 Virginia Tech students - even as hundreds continue to die daily in Iraq - a disaster of vast proportions is preparing to unfold. I still think we might avert it. But we have very little time.

This past winter I stopped eating meat. Besides the suffering that goes on in slaughterhouses - which far surpasses the brutality of the Canadian seal hunt - the environmental impact of raising animals for food was the "straw that broke the camel's back" in making meat utterly unappetizing to me. By going vegetarian 36 fewer animals - give or take - will die a year, but more than that, there is the decrease in the greenhouse gases that are generated by raising animals for food.

I really don't think Global Warming is going to shorten my life, although I may be wrong about that. But the idea of virtually all life on earth being wiped out - along with the best of what humans can be - is monstrous.

We give expression to God here on earth. To destroy ourselves - out of neglect, ignorance or apathy - is a slap in the face of our Creator.

Instead, we must all do everything we can to save the planet, save the animals and save each other, for in doing so, we glorify God.

You have a wonderful brain and a wonderful mind. Your heart is big and bold. Pray to God today and ask for guidance on how you can best serve the causes of preserving the earth and spreading kindness.

For inspiration, see how one man is encouraging people to generate their own electricity for household uses while, simultaneously, improving their health.

If only Cho had stopped focusing on his resentments. If only he had opened to God, opened to love and been able to forgive any slights he received. Imagine if he had turned his great power to be destructive into a great intention to do good.

Let his failure be a lesson to us all to dig deeper, try harder and turn to God to help us become more loving and more helpful, no matter how lonely or abandoned we have felt, or what has happened to us in the past.

If we open to the truth, we will find out that we are not alone.
In him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:38

Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace. Job 22:21

Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me. John 16:32

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalms 46:10

Labels: , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Counters
Site Counters