Images of Sudan staggering on painful legs brought tears to my eyes. At the sight of his painful, oozing sores the tears flowed down my cheeks. And when Sudan was finally euthanised to the obvious distress of his carers, I had to mop my chin and blow my nose. What made Sudan’s death more tragic was the fact that he was the last male northern white rhino – in the world – to die. The species was effectively extinct. And then, wonderfully, the veterinarians who attended Sudan’s last moments withdrew his DNA. And with this DNA will be able to resurrect the species. Good news from bad. But I have to wonder: when this magnificent creature once again browses the grasslands of Kenya (or elsewhere) will it be as relentlessly hunted as before? After all, man’s greed and concomitant need is something that has yet to be addressed.
What I saw?
I had been watching Sudan’s story in the form of a documentary called Kifaru (kifaru is the Swahili for rhinoceros) which was screened at the 2019 Durban International Film Festival in July. Another festival documentary that highlighted both the greed and the need of man was Mossville: When Great Trees Fall. Briefly, Mossville: When Great Trees Fall is the story of how Sasol established a refinery in the American town of Mossville. How Sasol’s gigantic, emissions-producing setup chased people from their homes, and gave them in return very little in compensation and a whole host of social and health problems. Sasol and other large companies continue seemingly unabated.
These and other documentaries show how humans are fuelled by both greed and need. And by consequence how climate change is also fuelled by both greed and need. Greed because man has hunted the southern black rhinoceros to extinction. Greed because man’s insatiable desire for ‘progress’ has seriously changed our climate. But also need because the world is full of people who have to make a living. Who need food, transport and safe housing.
Solutions? Or more despair?
These documentaries are distressing to watch. And messages about climate change that are coming thick and fast are also distressing. Bad news indeed. Glimmers of hope glow when scientists speak of climate change solutions in the form of renewable energy sources (see Climate Change: The Facts BBC Earth, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p076w7g5). But these messages are confusing. Visit Renewable Energy is a Scam and see possible drawbacks of renewables. The speaker in this video is pro-nuclear as an alternate source of energy.
Views of Germany’s Rhine River and Mainz. Germany is committed to denuclearisation within the next decade
What can Christians do?
- Stop throwing away
One climate change solution posed in the BBC programme stands out for me. Stem our throwaway culture. This solution I think addresses – at least ideologically – one half of the world’s greed, the other half’s need, and what both greed and its concomitant need have done to accelerate climate change.
- Care for what we do have
An excerpt from The Lorax by Dr Seuss says: Now that you’re here, the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear, UNLESS someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.
This children’s book by Dr Seuss promotes care for the environment
Natalie Mayer’s article at https://comeaway.co.za/2019/04/01/4-reasons-why-christians-need-to-be-green/ gives four helpful reasons why Christians should respond to the environment with an attitude of care, not of destruction. The thought of being able to do something helps to alleviate some of the distress we feel at the enormity of this problem.
- Trust in a Sovereign God
I told a Christian friend how hopeless and helpless I felt about climate change. And she reminded me that God is sovereign even over climate change and over man’s greed. God is a God who keeps his promises past, present and future. In GENESIS 3:15 God said:
“I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.”
He kept that promise thousands of years later when he sent Jesus to earth to die and rise to life to give us entry into his kingdom. He will remain faithful for what is to come.
And that sovereign, faithful God is also one who cares for man’s needs. He sees. He knows. And he invites us to think of him as our rock, our fortress, our deliverer and our stronghold.
PSALM 18: 2 says:
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
A version of this article originally appeared on www.afeastoftales.co.za