Rising Leader Series: Week 33 - Environmental Sustainability
Updated: Aug 13
Astronauts speak with awe of their first view of Earth from outer space. From afar, there it hovers: our solitary Earth, hanging in space at just the right distance from the sun, with just the right atmosphere to sustain life. What a spinning miracle it is. From the perspective of space, how insignificant our fevered squabbles must seem; how appalling our carelessness.
With astronaut eyes, who would not be struck to the heart by Earth’s beauty and fragility? Our connectedness is so obvious from space. And then we look closer… closer… closer. We see machines at work, tree-stripping the Amazon. We see billions of us, carbon-soiling the skies– fish-scouring the seas– coal-gashing our mountains. Day by day we slash and tear at the web of our connectedness. And we call it progress.
My wife and I recycle. I’ve ordered an electric car. But are we careful in our use of plastics? Have we done enough work to minimize energy use in our home? No– not yet. We need to do more. I suspect this might be true with you as well. In every community, most every household can make a greater difference in advancing the sustainability of our planet. But it’s also true that the actions of individual households will just scratch the surface. The most impactful actions humanity must take need to unfold on a massive scale. To decommission fossil fuels, we must spin up vast new global energy sources (such as nuclear fusion). To clear the air, we must construct global-scale networks of carbon-sucking machines. To promote sustainability, we must reshape the laws that regulate all national economies in the world. And then to support the millions of people dislocated by these actions, we will need to mobilize transitional retraining and support. It will require a level of sustained sacrifice and collaboration never before seen in the history of humanity.
Everything and everyone is connected– with love interwoven. God endowed us with our Earth, brimming with beauty and bounty. He gave us dominion over it. But for centuries we have abused God’s gift. And now He pleads with His people to wake up and rise up. “Come to the aid of your Mother Earth– no matter the cost, nor how long it takes,” God calls. He speaks to leaders just like you. Scientist, banker, investor, entrepreneur, pastor, legislator, diplomat: the fate of your children’s children’s children is in your hands. The moment is now. Will you rise?
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said:
“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan… The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost… As Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense... No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.”
Here’s what he did not say:
“Yesterday, December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan… As Commander in Chief I have ordered our Army and Navy to respond with small and partial measures. I am not at all confident we will win– in fact, we probably won’t. In the end, perhaps it will be best to kick the can down the road and let the next generation deal with it. We’ll all be gone before it really matters.”
Truth hurts. If we don’t cap the rise in temperatures and the corresponding rise in oceanic acidity within 25 years, most coral reefs in the seas will die, becoming vast gray underwater cemeteries. Drought grips the West as we dither; we are frozen in indecision as 120-degree days pan-fry New Delhi and eighty-degree days bake Alaska. Glaciers melt. Seas rise towards levels that threaten every coastal city and town in the US and around the world. Want to see an elephant? Do it now. They’re critically endangered.
Climate change. Loss of biodiversity. Pollution. Land and sea degradation. Our planet needs you, good leader, to rise up— now. There’s still time to act, but there’s no time to waste. Great work must be done at epic scale and significant cost, which requires great global will. All of us need to do so much more, more quickly. And so, good leader. As you stand on the podium before your country and the world, the ghost of FDR has a question for you. Which speech will you give?
“So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’”-- Genesis 1: 27-28
Ask not what your planet can do for you, but what you can do for your planet.
Yours in sustaining faith,
P.S.: Prayer study and action– this is the Christian path to a purpose-filled life.
EVENING PRAYERS FOR EARTH AND US
Lord, remnant forest canopy please keep
In Greenland, save the final sheets of ice
African elephants: seed and breed them free
Queensland’s coral: reverse hot sacrifice
Turn Southwest’s tap, to stream at widow’s wish
Settle the seas that smash too high on shore
Sprinkle oceans with new swarm-schools of fish
Spark stratagems to soil the skies no more
Lord, help us save beauty of broken Earth
And so honor our children’s children’s cries
For You, O God, gave us a purposed birth;
Your call resounds in silent plea to rise
Lord, shake us out of apathetic gaze
May we rise strong in action-woven praise
Previous Week's Letters: