Any normal, thinking human being would be concerned about what is happening to our environment. Christians have an additional reason.
You don’t, as they say, have to be a rocket scientist or even a believer – you could be an atheist – to see something that sticks out like a sore thumb: That if we, for instance, deplete the fish in the seas by reckless consumption, then quite obviously we will have had it with regard to that particular resource.
Genesis in the Bible declares that human beings have been created in the image of God and are bidden to have dominion over the rest of creation. Made in the imago dei, they are thus God’s representatives, and so must hold this dominion not ruthlessly, aggressively exploitatively, but as God would hold dominion, caringly, lovingly and compassionately.
There is a very intimate connection between us humans and the rest of creation. It is mystical and real. So when Adam and Eve muck up their lives through disobeying God, it has devastating consequences for the rest of creation – the ground which up to then had produced crops for the benefit of humans, now spews forth weeds. This is an imaginative way of saying that Creation has been damaged because human beings have been damaged. It is now red in tooth and claw.
We dismiss these stories as just fables at our own peril. Much of Hurricane Katrina was due to human conduct, global warming, cutting down vegetation that would have provided some protection from the raging waves.
For believers, concern for the environment is a religious obligation, especially because the material world is potentially transfigurable, and is the locus of theophany, through which the divine manifests itself because God in the Incarnation became a human being of flesh and blood.
We need the material because God communicates the very life of God through material, mundane things in the sacraments: bread, water, oil, wine. So we stand before creation, the environment, with reverence, for it will not be annihilated. It, too, will be redeemed, has been redeemed, for there will be a new heaven and a new earth.
So we must handle the environment with care, with reverence, tenderly.Or we are doomed.