Has the climate crisis fallen off our radar during this pandemic?

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While we are trying to figure out how to have church and wondering what schools will do, other major news stories can fail to grab our attention. Last week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rolled back a climate regulation. This policy prevented oil and gas industries from emitting methane. Methane is a toxic greenhouse gas. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, methane warms the planet by 86 times as much as CO2 over 20 years. Now, the new EPA policy removes the requirement to install pollution-control equipment. This equipment detects and fixes methane leaks from wells, pipelines, and storage sites.

Psalm 24 & Romans 7:15

News like this make me think of Psalm 24, “The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it.” Or, Romans 7:15, “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
   the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
   and established it on the rivers.

Psalm 24

We know God made the world. We know what harms the world. Yet, we pollute it anyway. This is not a political issue, nor is this a liberal or conservative issue. This is a theological issue. It is about recognizing who God is and what it means to follow Christ. Oil and gas operations leak millions of tons of methane each year. The Natural Resources Defense Council has found that this recent move by the EPA could result in more than 510,000 tons of additional methane reaching the atmosphere each year.

I can picture the Apostle Paul saying, “I do not understand my own actions.” We are all distracted by a world-wide pandemic and the ensuing economic recession. While we watch the COVID-19 numbers, it is tempting to look away when the EPA deregulates and promises it will provide prosperity.

What is the cost of deregulation?

In the Parable of the Rich Fool (Luke 12.13-21), Jesus tells about a man who built a bigger barn. His fields produced abundantly, so he tore down his barn and built a bigger one. When the man died, he could not take his wealth with him. Even if the reduced EPA regulations stimulate economic growth, what is the cost? Is it worth 510,000 tons of methane pollution? Today, during a recession, having more money makes sense. However, more money is not worth ruining the planet for future generations. It’s shortsighted.

Following God is never about immediate gratification. In some ways, God does respond in the moment. The presence of Christ comforts us today. The Holy Spirit leads us into tomorrow. Still, being a Christ-follower is a lifelong commitment. We die to ourselves and live for God each day. We recognize that the earth is the Lord’s. Instead of “not doing what we want,” we can be good stewards of this planet—even during a pandemic.

Vote

We can respond as Christians to EPA moves like this by voting. This is an election year. Everyone should vote. Prayerfully consider each candidate for each office. Think about the variety of ways God can use them. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you vote for the person who will protect God’s world and not make shortsighted decisions.

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