Apr 8

Arnie Wierengaby Rev. Arnie Wierenga

When I was about 6 or 7 years old, I remember my older brother talking about logging and how we could not keep cutting down trees because there were not enough of them. As a child I was puzzled by what he was saying because my known world was of rolling hills completely covered by trees.

Sometimes our world can be too small to fully appreciate a problem. I think Australians are the highest users of water per person in the western world which is an odd thing because we live on the driest continent. We have been able to waste a lot of water while our population has been low, but with population pressure and the bite of drought, our world view has had to grow.

The memory from childhood about logging was triggered because I have been thinking about the Earth Hour event (see http://www.earthour.org/) that was held on Saturday night (29th March). As an act of care and responsibility towards our planet, people were asked to turn their lights off for one hour at 8pm. We did this in our home, and were astonished to view only faint glimmers of the odd TV set around us as neighbours of all types joined in. At the manse we turned off just about everything we could – computers, fridge and freezer, microwave – and enjoyed the ambience of candle-light.

What difference can one hour make though? It is tempting to think that Earth Hour will not really make a difference. It was estimated that half the people of Perth turned their lights off and yet it only reduced power consumption by 3%. Who are we kidding if we reduce power usage by 3% for one hour of one year?

While these things are true enough in themselves, this is similar to when I was a child and saw lots of trees – the view is too small. For a start, if half the residents of Perth or any other city are turning off their lights, then it made a difference there and then, albeit for a short time. A 3% saving on power usage is still a considerable saving. But there is more to value here as well. In our house as I turned off the refrigerator, I began to think about what was in there that needed to be kept cold and how much power is actually consumed by this major appliance. (An estimate in Earth Garden magazine suggests that it would take a person pedaling at maximum speed for 20 hours per day to keep a fridge running – and this is not sustainable!) I began thinking about simple things that make a difference – like making sure the door is closed unless absolutely necessary, and making sure the door seals work properly to keep the cold air inside. I’ve also discovered that my computer has a ‘sleep’ mode. Now with the press of a single button it almost completely turns off, but will come back to life in just 10 seconds. It is also quite easy to put on a jumper or thick socks rather than run a heater – things that make quite a difference in the long run.

It is worth caring about these things, because our Scriptures remind us of a creator who has lovingly crafted this earth full of resources as a gift to humans, other creatures and all of creation. As we see trees cut down in an unsustainable fashion and feel the heat of a globe sweltering under greenhouse gases, we can no longer believe there is any justification from Genesis to ‘subdue’ the earth. This has never been an adequate translation of the Hebrew in any case. More correctly we are to be stewards of the earth. And if this planet is a gift to us from God, then it only makes sense to care for it, rather than destroy it with greed or carelessness.

Earth Hour is a wonderful initiative because it brings mindfulness to caring for our planet. If we are truly to be stewards of creation, then we need to pay attention to what is happening with it. It is through our mindfulness that we can take small steps that truly make a difference. I give thanks to God for the gift of creation that sustains and nurtures us, and I give thanks for all who are willing to be better stewards as an act of faith.

leave a reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.