I wonder if you are one of the more than 13 million viewers transfixed by the new BBC natural history series ‘Blue Planet II’?
If you’ve been watching, perhaps, like me, you have experienced some mixed emotions. The beauty and complexity of creation has filled me awe. It speaks volumes about the character of the one who spoke it into being; as Paul wrote to the Romans, ‘since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made’. (1:20)
And then we are confronted with what we, God’s stewards, have done to this world. ‘The sea is his, for he made it,’ proclaims the psalmist (95:5). And we have filled it with plastic.
A 2015 study in the journal Science reported that 8 million metric tons of plastic finds its way into the world’s oceans every year. The camera crews filming for ‘Blue Planet’ found sweet wrappers, bottles, bags, and toys everywhere they went, no matter how remote. Executive producer James Honeyborne told BBC Newsbeat, ‘Some scientists think that entanglement in marine plastic is the most significant welfare threat of human origin in the ocean. In some cases it can also be a conservation threat to entire populations.’
What are we to do with this information? One option not open to us is turning off the TV and forgetting about it. The Bible is clear that God loves and cares passionately about the welfare of his entire creation. As Peter Harris, co-founder of A Rocha says, ‘Our work and worship and witness will be incomplete until our responsibility to conserve the glorious, God-given diversity of earth’s creatures becomes second nature.’
A simple first step might be to commit to reducing our use of plastic. There are plenty of reusable coffee cups and water bottles available to buy. We can take cloth bags with us when we go grocery shopping. We can avoid pre-packaged fruit and veg. These things might seem like minor tweaks, but the shameful giant garbage patches in our oceans are made up of individual pieces of plastic of the kind we use thoughtlessly every day. And nothing we do in a spirit of worship, however small, is insignificant in the eyes of God.
Jo is an author, speaker, and editor of the Bible Society’s Lyfe Journal. Her latest book is Home: the quest to belong (Hodder & Stoughton).
This year’s John Stott London Lecture, on ‘Climate and Faith in the Public Arena’, by Professor Katharine Hayhoe, can be viewed here: Climate and Faith in the Public Arena.