Last summer I took my eight-year-old grandson fishing. He was so excited! We had great luck. He caught a nice bass on the first cast and we caught five more within an hour. When I wanted to release the bass, he said, “Grandpa, let’s eat it!” I was reluctant. Not only did I not want to kill and clean it, but I remembered what I had read from the Indiana Department of Health: Many of our fish in Indiana contain high levels of mercury, a very toxic element especially to children under 10.
My grandson was so eager to eat something he caught that I took a chance and we cleaned, cooked and shared it with the family. I made sure everyone, especially my grandson, just ate a small portion. Luckily, we didn’t get sick.
Where does the mercury come from that is increasingly found in our Indiana freshwater fish? It comes from the burning of coal. We burn trainloads of it every week to produce 95 percent of our electricity. The burning of coal is very hard on our environment. Its harmful byproducts are numerous, including arsenic, mercury and sulphur dioxide, which is responsible for acid rain.
Many people of faith feel an obligation to their Creator to take care of creation so that we will continue to have a beautiful and healthy planet for generations to come. In the Hebrew scriptures, in the book of Genesis, we read that when the Creator brought about creation the Creator said it was good. Seven times the Creator said it was good!
“……indeed, it was all very good.”
In the next chapter humankind is commanded to care for creation; to take care of the garden. We are the stewards of the natural world by command of the Creator. I saw a bumper sticker recently affirming that we are not the earth’s owners:
“The Earth does not belong to us. We belong to the earth.”
We are but passing through here for a short while and then the earth goes on to those who follow.
The Earth is our Mother that nourishes us. But we too often treat it without love. We treat it as something to conquer or to simply exploit without regard to consequences. Our scientists document many abuses. But what alarms them most is the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere caused by our burning of fossil fuels for energy. Ninety-seven percent of all climate scientists and virtually every major scientific organization in the world is telling us we need to drastically reduce this “carbon footprint” or the earth will suffer greatly. And we need to do it soon, within the next decade or so.
Caring for creation is more than just admiring the wonder and beauty of this earth. It is taking action to live more sustainably and more simply — and electing leaders who will support laws that take seriously the need to care for creation.