We do not intend in this essay to dismiss completely the idea that the physical activity of mankind can have widespread negative effects on the physical world. It is well known that nitrogen oxides and sulfur dioxide released from the burning of hydrocarbons caused the phenomenon of acid rain, which took a heavy toll on forests, architecture, and so on. And that the use of certain pesticides has devastating effects on our key pollinators like bees and butterflies.
Neither, however, should anyone accept the idea that a harmless compound like carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere from a car tailpipe or a power plant is causing every serious weather disaster nowadays (catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, CAGW, per Jeff Sadow) – from hurricanes to ice storms to heat waves, etc. Especially when CO2 is a known plant fertilizer, and when there is new doubt about the ability of CO2 in the atmosphere to cause heating of the earth (the greenhouse gas effect).
What we do want to focus on is another kind of catastrophic man-made climate change that no one seems to be talking about – the kind that arises because of our rejection of God’s covenant of love. The Holy Prophet Moses warns us,
15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. 16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. 17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading-trough. 18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock. 19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out. 20 “The LORD will send upon you curses, confusion, and frustration, in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly, on account of the evil of your doings, because you have forsaken me. 21 The LORD will make the pestilence cleave to you until he has consumed you off the land which you are entering to take possession of it. 22 The LORD will smite you with consumption, and with fever, inflammation, and fiery heat, and with drought, and with blasting, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish. 23 And the heavens over your head shall be brass, and the earth under you shall be iron. 24 The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down upon you until you are destroyed (Deuteronomy 28:15-24).
Examples of this abound in the Holy Scriptures. What was the cause of the Great Flood in Genesis or of the 3 ½ years of drought under the Holy Prophet Elijah? What will be the cause of the devastating plagues described in the Book of Revelation? Mankind’s rebellion against God.
And now that we are seeing more droughts, plagues, etc., we are doing everything we can NOT to acknowledge our flight from God as the cause, but trying instead to pin the blame on something else, anything else, but that. Thus, new cults like CAGW, for example, are created.
No institution is safe from this effort to diminish the All-Holy Trinity and enlarge some other deity (CAGW, LGBT rights, CRT, evolution, communism, and so on). The public schools are an essential part of the indoctrination effort; it is therefore imperative that conservatives/Christians push back against that with their own ideals. Daniel, the Patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Romania, gives us some guidance and encouragement and justification in this regard:
Prayer is the presence and work of the Holy Spirit in the believer, which brings comfort, peace and joy; it unites us with the Most Holy Trinity and the Church of Christ at all times and in all places.
In this respect, Saint John Climacus notes that “prayer by reason of its nature is the converse and union of man with God, and by reason of its action upholds the world and brings about reconciliation with God; (…) work of angels, (…) the enlightening of the mind” (The Ladder, 29, 1).
Therefore, it is the foundation of human life and spiritual growth, which helps us to face hardships and to foretaste from this world the light and joy of the resurrection and eternal life.
Prayer is the victory over man’s alienation from God, himself and his neighbour; it is the source of peace, joy and communion.
At the same time, common prayer is a sign of the mystical presence of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who said: “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20).
Therefore, children and young people, parents and teachers are called to cherish and cultivate prayer in the ecclesial community, family, school and society, as it is the source of pure love for God and one’s neighbour.
Without prayer, there is no Church and no Christian life.
When we lose the joy and peace of the soul, it is a sure sign that we no longer pray as we should or as much as we should.
Today, when, under the influence of secularization, spiritual values are neglected, and education is subject to paradigm shifts, children and young people need to discover the profoundly Christian meaning of life, the importance of prayer, the joy of communion with God and with one’s neighbours, to cultivate essential virtues such as respect for the dignity of the person, friendship, sincere love, solidarity and gratitude.
Love for God and one another is the ultimate solution to the problem of environmental degradation. It should be taught and discussed in our schools, in our homes, in our churches, in our government institutions, and elsewhere. It is to our detriment that we ignore the religious dimension of the problem. We are very good collecting and analyzing all kinds of data: GDP, CPI, unemployment numbers, farm acreage, factory output, hourly wages, etc.
But if the Christian faith is really the most important element in man’s life, why do we not hoard and study data to understand better which way our religious life is trending? It is imperative to start making regular (quarterly, yearly?) governmental reports about the following (more could be added):
-number of baptisms;
-number of weddings;
-number of ordained clergy;
-number of monks and nuns;
-number of church openings and closings;
-total number of monasteries and churches;
-total number of Christians;
-number of Christians who regularly attend worship services;
-number of Christian schools;
-number of Christian charities (hospitals, pregnancy centers, orphanages, etc.)
And once we have the numbers in hand, policies need to be worked out to correct any negative/harmful trends, just like we do when we receive bad unemployment numbers or high inflation.
This Labor Day, we shouldn’t be overly enamored with economic data; we should ponder over the more important religious statistics, too.
For the environment responds not only to man’s physical actions but also to his spiritual disposition. The moral decline in the West is compounding some of the knot-headed environmental decisions we have made over pesticides, genetically modified crops, electro-magnetic fields from cellphone towers, and the rest of it. If we want bountiful fields, calm weather, few sicknesses – in short, the blessings of God for us and for our children and for the generations to come – we must do more than obsess over outward physical actions; we must also find ways to estrange the soul from sin and unite her to God. Then we will receive what the Lord promised through the blessèd Moses:
2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. 3 Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. 4 Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your beasts, the increase of your cattle, and the young of your flock. 5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading-trough. 6 Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out (Deut. 28:2-6).