Can we sustain the gift of God’s earth?
By By Bob Martin, The Alabama Scene
Nancy and I just returned from a weekend spent at Gulf Shores with our youngest son Jeremy, his wife Anthea, and grandson Austin, 18 months. The weather was great…overcast, a bit of rain and a high of about 87 at mid-day.
The water was also perfect…no pale electric pink moon jellyfish, sea nettles or Portuguese men-of-war… and Austin loved it, even with the splashing waves. As I sat on the beach and watched his dad coaxing him into the water, I could see the always-looming oil and gas rigs south of Mobile Bay.
I realize we must strike a balance between protecting the earth, a task given to civilization by God, and the needs and desires of human beings. But I am concerned that the balance has shifted away from God’s concern about sustainability on earth, which means living within the bounds of planetary capacities with both present and future generations in mind. God’s covenant is with all of us “for all future generations” (Genesis 9:8-17). I believe God’s concern for sustainability forces us to be responsible for both the everlasting results of our individual lifestyles and governmental policies.
As I watched our youngest grandchild splashing in the waves on West Beach my thoughts drifted to the future. Would his children and grandchildren be able to sit at this same spot on earth and enjoy God’s gift to all mankind? That is the question all should ponder.
I’m worried that possibility may be in jeopardy.
Why, you might ask?
On the I-65 section of our drive to and from Gulf Shores I set the car’s speed at 76 mph. I estimate I passed perhaps 10 vehicles. Most of the other traffic sped past.
I had thought that as gasoline approached $4-a-gallon folks would slow down. In May Mastercard reported that U. S. gasoline demand had fallen nearly 6 percent the first week of that month, when compared to that same week a year earlier. In another study it was reported that California gasoline sales fell 4.5 percent in January, 2008, compared to January, 2007.
Boy was I wrong, I thought, as the big SUV’s and trucks zipped by at well over 80 mph. But if these statistics are true, the recent roll-back in retail gas prices (I bought regular at $3.44 in Montgomery before heading south last Friday), has certainly added weight back to those feet on the pedals. Perhaps the only way we can reduce the carbon footprint of oil useis for the price of gasoline to hit $10 per gallon. I believe we can safely wager that the big oil companies and the Middle East oil sheiks won’t let that happen.
Even if gasoline consumption has been reduced in the past year, it will take more time to figure out whether a rebound in the economy will wipe out fuel savings. Increasing the price of gasoline undoubtedly has had something to do with falling consumption because filling up the tank has become a real burden for many people.
But in economic slowdowns in the past gasoline consumption has fallen only to surge again. Gasoline consumption dropped during the recessions of 1975, 1980 and 1990 and then resumed its climb. We seem to never learn.
A sting may be the least jellyfish worry
Then, while lounging on Alabama’s white sandy beaches, I read an alarming article in the Mobile newspaper.
Press-Register reporter Ryan Dezember, writes that local researchers on the coast say that there has been an increase in instances of dangerous marine life, including the Portuguese man-of-war, sea nettles and jellyfish over past years.
Scientists, Dezember writes, say the reasons for the increases include rising ocean temperatures, increased nutrients and phytoplankton growth, over fishing of jellyfish predators, depleted oxygen levels and the addition of manmade breeding grounds like oil and gas platforms, piers and reefs.
What they are really saying is if the surge in the jellyfish population continues it means a potential sickness for the world’s oceans. A recent report by the National Science Foundation says that human caused stresses, including global warming and over fishing are creating jellyfish surpluses in many tourist destinations and productive fisheries. Orange Beach Coastal Resources Director Phillip West told the Press-Register that this has been an exceptional year for them along Alabama’s coast.
Perhaps it is time for us to heed God’s directives on things other than how he created this universe. No matter its origins, it’s up to us and future generations to maintain it. And time is running short for my grandchildren and yours.
Bob Martin is editor and publisher of The Montgomery Independent. E-mail him at: firstname.lastname@example.org