Assorted, Economics, Science - Environmental Stewardship
Manure into mattresses – we can "create" resources
Economist Julian Simon's key insight is that man's creativity – his brainpower – is a resource that creates other resources. So while some view a rising population as a threat to limited resources ("We're going to run out of oil!") Simon viewed a growing population as a growing resource base. Our brains, when properly applied, could in a reflection of God's own creativity, turn nothing (or next to it) into quite something. For example, when copper – a key element in our phone lines – started getting very expensive, this motivated some smart chaps to develop a much cheaper alternative: sand! That's what our telephone lines are today:
Sand (silicon) + Human Creativity = Fiber optic cablesMaking sand into something is amazing enough, but a much more impressive example of "resource creation" is the way some farmers have turned poop into bedding (or if you prefer alliteration, manure into mattresses). It is quite a story! Rising prices prompts creative thinking Down where I live, in the Northern Washington/Southern BC area, some dairy farmers used to use sawdust as a cheap bedding material for their cows. The cows could sleep in it, poop on it, and the farmer could then come along, clean it out, and put a new layer down. Sawdust clumped together, making it easy to scoop away, but perhaps its most attractive quality was its cheapness. Sawdust used to be viewed as a waste product from the lumber industry – they couldn't give it away and would even bury it. But then creative farmers created a market for this castoff. Or to put it in more mathematical terms:
Sawdust + Human Creativity = Cow beddingSome time later, other creative folks started to see more ways that sawdust could be used, including as fuel. Because it originated as a lumber waste product it was cheaper than many other fuel options. So some greenhouses owners figured out a way to use it to heat their buildings, and started to outbid the farmers. This result was this waste product – nothing more than garbage before human brainpower got involved – had so increased in value that farmers could no longer afford it. They needed to find a cheaper option for their bedding! And then it happened. Some ingenious dairy farmer, probably sitting out on his tractor staring out across his manure lagoon, started thinking about the possibilities in all this poop. The result was a separation system that used the undigested fibers found in cow manure. This is fed into a rotating drying drum, where high heat kills the germs, and the output is fibrous bedding material for the farmer's cows.
Poop + Human Creativity = Cow beddingManure has been turned into mattresses! Conclusion Julian Simon was an atheist, so he didn't understand why we have this capacity – why we have a mysterious, awesome ability to use our brains to create something out of nothing. But Simon did recognize Man was more than his mouth; he understood that Man wasn't best understood as a consumer of scarce resources, but that instead Man has an ability (and Christians would add, a calling) to be a producer of plenty. So, in this limited way, Simon has a more accurate understanding of Man than any of his critics. So where does our creative capacity come from? It is a reflection of God's creative Genius. We can't create ex nihilo – out of nothing – like God does, but when we take what was once useless, and put it to productive use, we show ourselves to be His image-bearers.
Science - Environmental Stewardship
Environmental Extremism: a one-world view
Christians know there is another Earth coming **** No intelligent and dedicated Christian wants to dispute the idea that we ought to be judicious ab...
Science - Environmental Stewardship, Theology
Global warming crisis? A brief biblical case for skepticism
Science - Environmental Stewardship
Environmentalism and marriage?
When I first wrote about a marriage/environmentalism connection ten years ago, there was no need to clarify what I wasn't trying to say. But today it seems only prudent to note that while some people are now pretending to "marry" bits of natures – maybe a tree, or the earth, or as happened with one university group, the ocean – that's not what we are talking about here. There is a marriage/environmentalism connection to be found in the Bible. While it takes some digging to find, understanding this connections helps us understand what God wants from our stewardship of the Earth. We find this linkage in Genesis 2:5b. Young’s Literal Translation of the Bible renders the text a little differently than most other versions. Rather than being told there was no man to till, tend or work the earth, Young reads, “…and a man there was not to serve the earth” (emphasis mine). Serve the earth? This doesn’t seem to make sense when you consider that only one chapter earlier man was told to have dominion over the earth (Genesis 1:28-30). Still, Young’s translation is a legitimate one – the Hebrew word here that is translated as “serve” is translated the same way throughout the rest of the Bible. So how then do we make sense of this call to have dominion, and this verse that tells us we serve the earth? In Exploring the Heritage of John Calvin, Clarence J. Vos makes the point that having authority does not preclude serving. Marriage is an example of this. A husband is given authority over his wife but must love her like his own body, and must love her as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:21-33). He is given authority but must use that authority to build up his wife and family. This idea of "serving authority" makes sense in nature as well. It is our job to rule it, and our responsibility to take care of it as well. This "serving authority" sets Christian environmentalists apart from our secular counterparts who certainly wish to serve nature, but don’t believe Man should have dominion over it....
Science - Environmental Stewardship
The Poor: why we can't let the Global Warming debate be over
It’s been 25 years now since Vice President Al Gore famously declared “Only an insignificant fraction of scientists deny the Global Warming crisis. The time for debate is over.” Is it different now? We’re still being told the time for talking is done, and yet “warming” has become disputable enough to necessitate a rebranding – now it’s the “Climate Change” debate that’s over. This is a brilliant rhetorical move in so far as climate change is indisputable – as Heraclitus declared, the one constant in life is change. Despite what we’re being told there is still a lot to discuss. Think it’s a given that we should spend trillions to slow global warming? It’s nowhere near that simple, as E. Calvin Beisner* pointed out in an article last May – there are an “enormous range of opinions among scholars about: • how each of the thousands of subsystems of the climate system will respond to rising atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. • how much warming will come from the added CO2. • how much harm and benefit will come from that warming. • how much benefit will come from the fertilizing effect of rising CO2 on almost all plants. • how to balance those harms and benefits against the benefits of the energy derived from fossil fuels; and • what would be the costs and benefits of efforts to reduce CO2 emissions by substituting other energy sources for fossil fuels” He continued: Earth’s climate system is one of the most complex natural systems ever studied. It consists of thousands of subsystems — feedback mechanisms — most of which we still don’t understand. We don’t know how strong they are or in some cases even whether they increase or decrease warming or the balance of benefits and harms from it. Providing energy to everyone is one of the most complex activities ever undertaken. The cost of reducing fossil fuel use — which now delivers about 85% of all energy in the world — is scores of trillions of dollars that could be used otherwise with far more benefit. This brings us to a key point for Christians to consider: how are the poor being impacted? We have to speak up for them, because they seem to be forgotten in all of this. To underscore just how important it is that we speak up for them, let's remember what happened the last time the United Nations wanted to solve a world crisis. Starting in 1969 the United Nations Population Fund warned the world about the dangers of overpopulation - we were going to run out of food, out of space, and out of resources! As a result of this fear-mongering, millions of children around the world were aborted. In China many mothers were forced to do it, due to China's one-child policy, but in the West it was sometimes a terribly misdirected sense of nobility that drove women to abort, rather than bring another child into a world they were told was crowded to capacity. Except it wasn't, and isn't. Overpopulation was a myth. That's obvious today, as countries like China, Japan, Russia, are already dealing with a different type of population crisis – they have shrinking populations, leaving an increasing number of old people, and fewer and fewer young people to care for them. Even western nations like Germany, Canada, and the United States may start to decline in the not too distant future. This was the crisis that never was. Millions were killed for no reason at all. And Christians should have seen through it from the start. How could we have known? Because God tells us children are a blessing (Ps. 127:3) but overpopulation proponents treated them as more like a curse. When it comes to Climate Change, God gives us clear guidance in His Word once again. No matter what you think of Global Warming – no matter what degree you think it is, or is not, happening – the one thing all Christians can agree on is that we must not oppress the poor (Prov. 14:31). So when we craft climate change policies then we need to ask, how will the world's poorest deal with the rising energy costs, and the rising food costs that come with them? If we help the planet, but hurt the poor, is that a good tradeoff? It's nice to talk about renewable energy, but that's remains expensive and intermittent. How might the poor in Africa, or Asia, or South America be helped if they had access to cheap, reliable fossil fuels? And if we're going to spend trillions to fight carbon emissions, shouldn't we consider what might offer us a better return on that money? How many lives could be saved if we spent those trillions another way? How many millions could be saved with access to clean drinking water? Or a cure for malaria? Or access to housing? Or by the employment opportunities created by natural resource development? We're being told the debate is over but for the sake of the world’s poorest we can't let it be. * E. Calvin Beisner will be the feature speaker for Reformed Perspective's 2017 Spring Tour "The Grass is Greener." He is the author of books on economics, the Trinity, the Psalms, as well as environmental policy, and he is the spokesman for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation....
Science - Environmental Stewardship
FREE MOVIE: Blue
Documentary 2014 / 58 minutes Rating: 7/10 Blue is about an alternative – a Christian alternative – to the Green movement. Whereas the secular environmental movement too often sees man as a problem for the Earth, the Blue movement would start with the biblical understanding that Man is the pinnacle of God’s creation, and has been entrusted with the stewardship of the Earth. While the Green movement wants us to just leave things alone, the Blue movement knows that God has told us to take an active role in protecting and developing the Earth. The strength of the film is King’s unabashedly one-sided, presentation: 100% of the film is spent talking to like-minded Christians, politicians and scientists, including some pretty big names like E. Calvin Beisner, Lord Christopher Monckton and Vishal Mangal Wadi. And because this is the side we hear so little about from the mainstream media, this film can serve as a good counter-balance. But the weakness of the film is this same one-sided presentation. I doubt that someone watching this who was already sympathetic to the Green movement would watch this any change their mind. I think it would be more likely that they would think King’s uninterrupted bashing of the Green movement must be unfair, and couldn’t possibly be a fair representation of them. The environmental movement is actually as bad as King portrays but because he never lets the Greens speak for themselves, it is understandable that a skeptical listener wouldn’t just take King’s word for it. The presentation is good, and as documentaries go, it is quite entertaining. That’s another way of saying, if you like documentaries, you’ll like this one, but if you don’t like documentaries, this one isn’t likely to make you change your mind. Overall I’d say it is a great one for Christians, to help us better understand the difference between biblical stewardship and the environmentalist approach, but it probably isn’t a good one to give to your environmentalist friends. You can watch the whole movie for free online. Check it out below. ...