I read an article last week on NPR about a small nation call Kiribati, which is made up of 33 tiny islands, scattered across an area more than twice the size of Alaska. This nation is in danger of being engulfed by the rising Pacific Ocean that surrounds it. The tides have already started to shift, often ruining crops and personal property belonging to residents located fairly far inland. There is no clear evidence that this sea-level rise has anything to do with climate change, however, Kiribati illustrates the hardships that will arise, especially for coastal cities and island nations, as sea levels do rise over the next century due to climate change.
However, this article caught my eye for another reason related to how faith can play a role in our reaction to hard situations. There is a contingency in Kiribati who say they “are torn between what they hear from scientists and what they read in the Bible.” One man said he believes in the biblical account of Noah's ark. In that story, after G-d devastates the world with a flood, he makes a covenant with Noah that he will never send another.” Another man stated that "saying we're going to be under the water, that I don't believe, because people belong to God, and God is not so silly to allow people to perish just like that." The president of the nation, in which only 23 people stated they did not attend church our of 90,000 residents in the recent census, said that he understood this skepticism based on faith, however, “ the facts are there in front of us. The sea level rise is going to put us underwater, much earlier perhaps than we all anticipated."
I am relaying this story because it is very easy for us to look at all of the environmental issues in our world and simply state “it is in G-d’s hands.” It is true that in the story of Noah, G-d made a covenant not to send another flood. However, these environmental problems are not being sent by G-d. The environmental crisis that continues to gain momentum was created by humans, and judging from our history, G-d does not intervene to stop human made catastrophes. The situations in which G-d was thought to have performed a miracle required initiative by human beings. Moses had to have the confidence to go back to Egypt and face Ramses for G-d to enact the 10 plague; It took Nachson ben Aminadav walking into the Red Sea up to his nose for the waters to part; and certainly the victories experience by Jewish forces, from the Maccabees to the IDF in battles that appeared hopeless, took the initiative of men and women with great courage and tenacity, whether or not G-d played a role,
G-d does not act alone. However, we have seen the miracle of our natural world’s ability to recover when human beings take action. We have witnessed in our lifetime humans take action to help heal the ozone hole over the Antarctic. Humans have been responsible for reviving a dwindling species by enacting laws for protection and aiding the creatures in repopulation efforts. At the most simple level all of us have had a plant that we had neglected in our home which seemed to be shriveled and lifeless but with a little water, care, and time the plant is sprouting new leaves.
Although it may be hard to accept for many people, G-d will not be coming to the rescue. G-d is not going to switch our society from a reliance on dirty to coal to renewable energy, and G-d will not stop companies from pouring mercury and other poisonous chemicals into our water systems. G-d will not step in front of a logger’s chainsaw in the rainforest and G-d will not stop global temperatures or sea levels from rising. However, if we as human beings decide to take meaningful actions on these issue, G-d may become our partner in making what seems impossible become a reality….like so many times before.
See Full Article From NPR Here: http://www.npr.org/2011/02/16/133650679/climate-change-and-faith-collide-in-kiribati