Category: Environment

Ringling Bros., elephants and serving as creation’s stewards

The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus was a regular part of my childhood. I don’t remember feeling too strongly about the use of elephants in the show either way. To be honest, I was more into the tigers (although the elephants certainly ranked higher than the clowns). Things look differently through adult eyes, however, which is how I’ve experienced the Ringling Bros. circus in recent years.…  [more]

Is climate engineering good creation care?

You may spend much of your days in a climate-controlled environment where the touch of a button or the turn of a dial will adjust the temperature. Could you imagine having such a thermostat for Earth’s climate? The planet is getting too warm, so let’s just dial back the temperature. Climate engineering – also referred to as geoengineering, climate intervention or climate hacking - is an attempt to…  [more]

Why every Christian should care about nuclear disarmament

The Cold War ended decades ago, but since then the global conversation on nuclear weapons has been heating up. Yet the issue of nuclear arms is so complex and its stakes so high that most ordinary citizens are at a loss to formulate reasonably informed opinions. In fact, few outside a small number of specialists are knowledgeable about the topic. This is why the Nuclear Threat Initiative sponsored the attendance of…  [more]

Human composting: ashes to ashes, dust to dust?

A discussion on green burial recently led a friend to send me a news item on human composting. That’s not composting by humans. It’s composting of humans (or, to be more specific, of human remains). A Seattle organization is proposing what they call the Urban Death Project. (They might want to give a little more thought to the name.) It’s a facility designed to decompose human remains, much like a…  [more]

Wiring the wild: animal exploitation or creation care?

While on a recent trip to India’s Periyar Tiger Reserve, my wife and I were told by our guides that approximately 48 tigers lived in or near the preserve, although sightings are quite rare. How then did they arrive at the number 48? Trail cameras snap motion-activated photos of the cats during their nighttime prowls. We’re getting used to being perpetually on-camera in the human realm. Now we’re…  [more]

Is civilization natural? A Christian answer

In a recent piece for NPR’s Cosmos & Culture blog, Adam Frank poses this question: is civilization natural? As Frank ponders the global effects of modern cities, he asks whether we need to reconceptualize standard dichotomies, such as city/country, built environment/wilderness and culture/nature. He notes that we commonly map key values onto this distinction as well, either exalting civilization as holding…  [more]

A theology of billboards

Three years ago my family moved to Austin, Texas. Our very first spring we got a front row seat to the effects of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, a legacy of former first lady Lady Bird Johnson. In a place known for heat and drought, springtime in Texas kicks off a wildflower parade up and down the state’s medians and roadways. Johnson’s concern about the increasing number of billboards crowding…  [more]

Planting pines, praying for peace

When someone mentioned the benefits of white pines recently at an ecological design course I was taking in California, my ears perked up. I’d just coordinated the purchase of 100 white pine seedlings before I departed home, to be planted along the road at the retreat center where I work, joining other white pines as a barrier against noise and visual clutter. With limited time to research anything…  [more]

Burnt offerings and incinerated ivory

Hong Kong is in the midst of incinerating 29.6 tons of confiscated ivory, a process that could take a year or more, according to National Geographic. The move is part of a global attitude shift toward the killing of animals for their tusks and also, it seems, a striking parallel for confession, repentance and Biblical burnt offerings. As the National Geographic story explains, Hong Kong is both a consumer of ivory…  [more]

Chimps are people too?

If there’s one thing we take for granted, it’s that we know what a person is. Persons are persons, and no need to apologize for the tautology, or for the feeling of redundancy that accompanies the phrase “human person.” Really? Human persons? Are there any other kinds? But the law does funny things to common definitions. We’ve already had our cage rattled with respect to the legal…  [more]

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