Commentary

The Earth is the Lord’s. Pass it on.

Europeans are far ahead of Americans when it comes to saving the planet

I’m dreaming of a Green New Year. I don’t mean spring in February, although we may see that soon enough. My wish is that as Lutherans and Americans we will resolve in 2007 to take our environmental crisis as seriously as Europeans do.
Earth is in danger. This is the message I heard and felt daily while visiting England in fall 2006. Our imperiled planet in general and global warming in particular were constant concerns in daily headlines and the evening news.

Not being a scientist, I won’t outline the facts of global warming and escalating climate change, but I encourage Metro Lutheran readers to look for them. I did grasp the economic warning Britons were hearing. Industrialized nations should raise taxes now, dedicating at least one percent of their national budgets to halting global warming. Otherwise our children’s generation will risk spending 20% of their wealth on the world’s distressed environment, creating economic havoc.

The Guardian newspaper solicited nominations for a weekly list of the top ten anti-Green products. Number one was the plug-in so-called “air freshener,” which pollutes indoor atmosphere while wasting electricity.

Viewers of the British Broadcasting Corporation’s 10:00 nightly news were reminded to turn off lights, as well as unplug computers, coffee makers and other appliances that consume energy simply being on standby. England’s progress in curbing energy consumption was compared with that of Germany, France and other nations of western Europe.

I came home to what seemed like another planet. The election campaign was ending, and some candidates were still advocating lower taxes. Others, to their credit, spoke of renewable energy sources. Few were putting the environment first. I noticed that while Britons and other Europeans are trying to decrease their use of Earth’s resources, Americans count on finding alternative means of living as comfortably as ever.

Britain was enjoying a late fall, with green leaves lingering on the trees into November. Ordinary people on the street, aware of global warming, were saying, “It’s eerie, isn’t it?” In contrast, one Twin Cities TV meteorologist ingenuously greeted our warm Thanksgiving with “Count your blessings!”

Bishop Jon Anderson, of the ELCA’s Southwestern Minnesota Synod, and other religious leaders have begun reminding us that climate change is a faith issue. God the Creator appointed us stewards of a fresh planet with white mountain crests, blue waters, green valleys, rich soil, minerals, and plentiful varieties of life. Jesus asks us to live simply and to share with those who have less. It’s a gift to be simple — a gift that we should make for the sake of our faith and our Earth.

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Christenson is a staff writer for Metro Lutheran newspaper.