Monday, November 24, 2008

The Environment

I try not to get too worked up over politics, for the most part, because most policy decisions are reversible. That doesn't mean I don't enjoy talking policy, debating ideas, and getting offended for a while, but in the end tax policies can be readjusted, infrastructure can be modified, relationships with other countries can be tweaked, and the people's relationship with its government can be mended. Just now I am feeling pretty good about our ability to change course with a new President Obama at the helm.

There are, however, certain decisions that are not reversible. I am thinking about actions such as wars and casualties of war and the death penalty. These are actions that, once done, can't be taken back. Another big one, in my mind, is how we treat the environment. Once a species is lost, it can't be recreated (unless we find dinosaur DNA in an amber-entombed mosquito, in which case all bets are off). Once a habitat is lost it takes generations upon generations to reappear. Once a person gets cancer or some other terrible disease from our pollution, we can't take it back.

One of the driving forces to the modern environmental movement is this photo:

This is photo is entitled "Earthrise" and was snapped by astronaut William Anders from lunar orbit on December 24, 1968 during the Apollo 8 mission. For the first time in human history we were able to see the Earth completely, as a whole. Look at the photo and what do you see? Many people, for the first time, saw an egg-shell thin atmosphere, its smallness in the immensity of space, and how everything is intimately interconnected. It is no surprise that while orbiting the moon the crew of Apollo 8 read the creation story from Genesis to a live TV audience.

Here is the final verse from the creation story in Moses, chapter 2:
31 And I, God, saw everything that I had made, and, behold, all things which I had made were very good; and the evening and the morning were the sixth day.
This impresses on me the need for our religion and our country to take a leading role in the vigorous protection of the Earth, and to not let a species or a habitat be destroyed without a serious effort to preserve it for ourselves and our children. There are lots of good social policy reasons to protect the environment, which I will undoubtedly chronicle to our faithful droves of readers in the future, but the most persuasive arguments to me are those based on something deeper like faith and beauty and a connection to the Earth and a belief that the Earth is sacred and worth protecting.

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