Panic Won’t Protect the Planet Well

I grew up as a climate change denier. Now I understand we must care for God’s creation and people alike.

I grew up believing that Earth Day was a liberal holiday. Climate change was a lie, a ploy by leftist political activists to dismantle US economic superiority by undermining domestic energy production and crippling our industries. Humans had a God-given right to have “dominion” (Gen. 1:26) over the earth, I was taught. The natural world was ours to “steward” (Gen. 2:15), which to us meant it could be used as desired to improve the lives of industrious, hard-working families like ours.

Everywhere I turned, I saw this definition of stewardship in action. It was well-intended but, I now think, ill-considered. My home then was the Texas Panhandle, atop the Ogallala Aquifer. The Ogallala is the largest aquifer in the nation, but after decades of High Plains farmers tapping it with abandon, it’s drying up.

These days, I live five hours south of my hometown atop another major geological formation: the Permian Basin, the nation’s most productive oil field and the heart of the US oil and gas industry. Thirteen years ago, I cried when we moved to Midland, Texas, for my husband’s new job with a natural gas company, not wanting my family to be part of an industry I’d come to believe was destroying the earth. Needless to say, by then, I no longer believed climate change was a lie.

I’d spent nearly four years in a small village outside of Beijing where the drainage creek bubbled with dangerously toxic sludge; we’d go days without seeing the sun through the industrial haze; and blowing my nose in the winter would leave me with a tissue blackened with coal dust. I didn’t have to be a climate scientist to conclude that there would be consequences for …

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