This World Environment Day our theme is “Air Pollution”. Research shows that more people now die from Air pollution than from HIV and Malaria put together. i
Beijing, China which is the host country for World Environment day only saw 195 “blue sky days” in 2017 ii. They place huge TV screens in public spaces on smoggy days so that people can see a fake blue sky, otherwise they become too depressed.
Nine out of ten people globally breathe polluted air, and there were 7 million premature deaths last year to air pollution.
In Genesis 3, as a result of the Fall, the Earth is cursed and cannot reach its full potential. Humans also inherit corrupt attitudes and impact negatively on the Earth and the whole web of life. (Gen 3:17-19). God then offers us the covenant of nature (Gen 9:11-17), a covenant between God and all of creation, symbolized by the rainbow in the sky. As with any covenant of promise, it requires obedience. The rainbow offers a message of hope and inspiration, God is with us and the earth will be renewed. Any exploitation of nature is an attack on God as well as a violation of the humans made in the image of God. With our theme of air pollution, we need to ask ourselves, what happens when we are using so many fossil fuels that we cannot even see the rainbow due to smog!
The rainbow and the throne of God
Psalm 19 reminds us that all heavens declare the glory of God. God speaks to us through the wonders of the sunrise and sunset, through the glories of the sky and nature. In the Early Church they often talked of the “two books of God’: the book of Nature and the written book of Scriptures. What happens to us as the human race and to our children when we are cut off from nature due to air pollution? When we can only experience nature on our TV or cell phone screens? We will lose the sense of the awesomeness of God.
What does the Bible mean when it talks about the Earth passing away and a new heaven and Earth? Are we to give up on this planet? Some Christians believe that we should not worry about climate change and environmental degradation. These are all signs of the end times. Christians will be taken away from this planet at the Rapture. Upon winning that battle of Armageddon, Christ will send all unbelievers into the pits of hellfire, re-green the planet, and reign on earth in peace with His followers for a millennium. Why care about the earth when the droughts, floods, and pestilence brought by ecological collapse are signs of the Apocalypse foretold in the Bible? Why care about global climate change when you and yours will be rescued in the Rapture?
And yet we are misreading the Bible. When the Scriptures talk of a “new” earth, there are two words for “new” in Greek: Neos and Kainos. For example if I smash my car completely and my car is written off, I get a brand new car from the insurance – that is “neos”. If my rusty old car is panel beaten, and given a new engine, that is “renewed” or “kainos” Not brand new, but renewed and restored, redeemed, upcycled. We have no Planet B!
We must work for a renewed Creation, by caring for creation in everything that we do and respecting that which God has given us all as our home.
(Taken from “When you no longer see the Rainbow, World Environment Day 2019 , #beat Air Pollution).