Thursday, November 01, 2007

My response to John MacArthur's take on the environment



My response is at the bottom after other blogger's comments:

Evangelicalism and the Environmental Movement

November 24th, 2006

(By John MacArthur)

Evangelicals and the EnvironmentI do think we have a responsibility to care for the environment—we ought to care for every resource God has provided for us.

That’s illustrated in the Old Testament account where God put Israel in the Promised Land, a fertile land flowing with milk and honey. God provided them that productive land and commanded them to let the soil rest every seventh year.

You shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the needy of your people may eat; and whatever they leave the beast of the field may eat. You are to do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove (Exodus 23:10-11; cf. Leviticus 25:1-7).

God gave that command because He didn’t want them to exploit the land and extract all its life. Allowing the land to rest every seven years ensured that it rejuvenated itself and continued to provide in the future.

When the Lord gave the Israelites the Mosaic Law, He warned them if they apostatized, He would remove them from the land (Deuteronomy 28). Sadly, the children of Israel did just that and came under judgment—the Northern tribes fell to Assyria in 722 B.C., and Judah to Babylon in 605 B.C. In fact, God designated the Babylonian captivity as a seventy-year captivity to rest the land for all the Sabbath years that Israel violated (cf. Leviticus 26:33-35; 2 Chronicles 36:17–21).

So I believe we are charged to treat responsibly all the wonderful resources God has given us. But that, in fact, has very little to do with the environmental movement. The environmental movement is consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever. But we know that isn’t in God’s plan.

The earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet. It is, frankly, a disposable planet—it is going to have a very short life. It’s been around six thousand years or so—that’s all—and it may last a few thousand more. And then the Lord is going to destroy it.

I’ve told environmentalists that if they think humanity is wrecking the planet, wait until they see what Jesus does to it. Peter says God is going to literally turn it in on itself in an atomic implosion so that the whole universe goes out of existence (2 Peter 3:7-13).

This earth was never ever intended to be a permanent planet—it is not eternal. We do not have to worry about it being around tens of thousands, or millions, of years from now because God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth. Understanding those things is important to holding in balance our freedom to use, and responsibility to maintain, the earth.

Just a footnote. Though this earth is our temporary home, do take time to enjoy God’s beauty. Take care of your yard. Stop to smell the flowers. Enjoy the forests. God placed those rich resources on this planet for our comfort and His enjoyment. Let us be thankful to Him for that.

Posted in Evangelicalism, Politics |
18 Responses to “Evangelicalism and the Environmental Movement”

1.
on 24 Nov 2006 at 10:25 am Eric Zeller

Good comments. Did you see Doug Moo’s article on this subject in the most recent JETS? He had some helpful thoughts from a rather different perspective.
2.
on 24 Nov 2006 at 11:20 am donsands

Christians should care about the earth more than Non-Christians.
Nice post. Thanks.
3.
on 25 Nov 2006 at 12:42 am albert

To accuse Environmentalists of the error of being “consumed with trying to preserve the planet forever,” as if that is such a negative thing is a very disrespectful charge in my judgment.

First of all, you cannot accuse the work of respectable Environmentalists just because one has a different presupposition. Granted, probably most active Environmentalists do not believe in Christianity and a future restoration of creation, but to deny their passion and love of nature in preserving what they can is still a noble characteristic and should be very much commendable. To attack their presuppositions is for another time, but please do not attack their work in trying to preserve the Environment. Because of Environmentalists, we are enjoying God’s creation at the moment and will continue to do so in the future.

It should be Christians that take the charge of preserving the Environment, not the “Liberals” or “Secular-Progressives.” Christians have more reason to not only preserve the Environment for the benefit of generations to come, but also because God made this world and delighted in its creation and goodness. (Even if it is ruined by Sin) We must delight in what God delights in, and Christians should be the ones taking the charge for the benefit of all men, and for the glorify of God.

Lastly, this has everything to do with the Gospel. To argue that such a task deters one from the Gospel is not the point at all. And to have a disposition in caring for God’s creation is to live out the Gospel. Having a pessimistic eschatology also should not have any bearing as well. Such times will come in God’s sovereignty. That is not for us to claim as a reason to do less of a job than what the Liberals are doing.
4.
on 25 Nov 2006 at 10:12 am Shazazz

Albert,

To your comment that “you cannot accuse the work of respectable Environmentalists just because one has a different presupposition,” I fail to see anywhere in John MacArthur’s quotes where he has accused anyone. I believe JM has given a very gracious but straight-forward counterpoint to that humanistic way of thinking which front-loads earthly matters before eternal ones. It seems that JM even would meet agree with the Environmentalists half-way (just short of making the Environmentalist movement a crusade). So to say we have an accusation here ignores the considerate, articulate first couple of paragraphs by the author.

-JS
5.
on 25 Nov 2006 at 11:22 am albert

I have listened to MacArthur enough to know his attitude towards Environmentalists.
6.
on 26 Nov 2006 at 2:43 pm Jazzy Cat

The environmental movement along with the global warming movement and others are controlled and run by politically motivated far left wing anti-capitalist and in many cases anti-American extremists. It is sad to see so many Christians buy into these movements. The human causation of global warming is nothing short of a hoax. Thirty or so years ago they were warning of a coming ice age as George Will cited in an article this past summer. The recent article on discernment by Dr. MacArthur also applies to these matters as well.

W.H.
7.
on 26 Nov 2006 at 8:15 pm albert

The same could be said of Fundamental Evangelicalism in terms of its far-right, neo-conservative, extreme-capitalist, ignorant/arrogant Americans being motivated by political agendas.

Your argument does not advance your point. It simply reminds us that there is corruption in every facet of politics and religion regardless.

The point that I would try to make is that what Environmentalists are doing, in essence, is what God has intended for us to do as dominion-bearers of this earth and the “religious right” has failed miserably to contribute to it. They have only criticized it. There is nothing wrong with having such a “crusade” to save the Environment. We are trying to preserve what the Lord has created to be good and delightful to Him. To criticize such a movement with such an argument would then demand conservative christians to cease protesting pro-abortion issues if one indeed dares to be consistent.
8.
on 27 Nov 2006 at 12:55 am woostar

Albert:

Can give me one example of respectable Environmentalist?
9.
on 27 Nov 2006 at 10:07 am Jazzy Cat

Albert,
What is an extreme-capitalist? Does the calling of conservatives ignorant and arrogant advance your agenda. There is a conservative agenda that we do not try to hide. The extreme left-wing agenda attempts to conceal their motives behind global warming, environmental, animal rights, and other activists causes. All of which have a disdain for free-enterprise and capitalism.
10.
on 27 Nov 2006 at 4:17 pm a_simple_bloggtrotter

Albert,

Are you suggesting in the last paragraph of your last post that the life of a tree is the same in God’s eyes as a human soul? Or that the two are remotely equal? Indeed, this cannot be your argument( biblically), so what exactly are you trying to get across?
11.
on 27 Nov 2006 at 8:11 pm farmboy

Given that we live in a fallen world where redeemed children of God are a distinct minority, based on the evidence, what is the best way to care for the world (the environment) until it is brought to an end at God’s appointed time?

First, when a person is concerned about where his next meal is coming from or where he will sleep tonight, he is not going to be focused on cleaning up a polluted stream. Taking care of the environment is a luxury that only people in relatively wealthy economies can be concerned with. Decentralized, market-based economies do a better job of maximizing wealth creation, as opposed to centrally-planned economies. Thus, it follows that decentralized, market-based economies can better afford the luxury of concern for the environment. In this regard, note that the most polluted spots on the earth are in current or former communist nations.

Second, who has a vested interest in taking care of and preserving a particular tract of land? The owner. Thus, private property rights go a long way toward preserving the environment. A farmer takes care of his land because topsoil erosion will hurt his ability to continue to raise crops. A timber company takes care of its forest resources because it needs a continuing reliable source of timber to harvest. Private property is owned by some person or entity in particular. In contrast, public property, since it is owned by everyone, is owned by no one in particular. In economics this is referred to as the tragedy of the commons. A rancher will not over graze his private range land, allowing grass to grow to optimal height before grazing. That same rancher will behave differently when it comes to public range land. If he waits on the grass to grow, there is the risk another rancher will come along and graze his cattle first. The result is suboptimal use of the range resource.

Third, when it comes to pollution of common resources, such as the air, the theory of externalities gives us guidance based on the superiority of private property for optimal use of resources. One approach is to “internalize” the pollution externality. A second approach is to use a market based system to allocate pollution rights or permits. It is more costly to reduce pollution in some settings than in others. It follows then that allowed pollution should be allocated to those settings where it is most difficult to reduce pollution.

It is wrong to state that only members of Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, or other similar groups care about the environment. Private property owners also care about the environment, specifically the part of the environment that they own as private property. And, it is in those decentralized, market-based economies where private property rights exist where pollution is minimized.
12.
on 27 Nov 2006 at 8:46 pm albert

jazzy cat,

You did not understand my point. But likewise I could respond again, Does calling all Environmentalists “extreme-leftists,” “anti-capitalist,” “anti-American,” advance your agenda? I never resorted to name-calling, you did.

bloggtrotter,

What is it that you do not understand from what I’ve been saying? God created our Environment, he created us to hold dominion over these things. So therefore, the fact that we ruin our Environment is testimony of our negligence, not good stewardship of God’s creation. And the unfortunate thing is that it is the “Liberals” that are fulfilling this task, not the “Conservatives.” This is not a talk on Capital Punishment or Abortion.
13.
on 27 Nov 2006 at 9:44 pm Rob Auld

Conservatives are stupid, moronic, white males who look for any other group to hate. If McArthur can make stupid broad statements then so can I.

Rob
14.
on 28 Nov 2006 at 1:51 pm truegrit

[…] In fairly close proximity of time, I came across these two posts about the perception of how Evangelicals line up on environmental issues. The first I came upon was the “Hungarian Luddite” I didn’t give too much deep thought to it, but then came across The Pulpit Magazine’s Evangelicalism and the Environmental Movement post. […]
15.
on 28 Nov 2006 at 3:37 pm Shane

I think Francis Schaeffer was the first conservative evangelical to put emphasis on ecology. Like many issues we have to be careful of throwing the baby out with the bath-water. As Christians we should be good stewards of God’s creation, yet there is such a danger of over-emphasis on it (like the old social gospel). I think JM presents a balanced view on this. There is a political party called the Green Party, who in their literature refers to the earth as “Mother earth”, which is nothing but neo-paganism. This issue reminds me of the so-called ‘animal rights’ issue. Of course, the biblical principle would be that we shouldn’t abuse animals, yet neither should we put them on par with humans. Excellent post, very relevant (in the true sense of the word!).
16.
on 10 Jan 2007 at 2:54 pm Laz

“The earth we inhabit is not a permanent planet. It is, frankly, a disposable planet”

I agree with this statement, the earth is a temporary place. Can you imagine what would happen if one said this on CNN? The outcry and calls for one’s head would be out of this world…
17.
on 25 Apr 2007 at 3:08 pm Ashly

God gave Adam a “stewardship” responsibility. The earth belongs to God and we are tenants and should take care of God’s earth(e.g. don’t dump the motor oil down the drain). Unfortunately, some people who do not have a personal relationship with Christ, have made “environmentalism” into a religion and worship “mother earth.” Others have not cared about God’s earth or God’s creation(e.g. people) and have polluted it with smog and etc. that hurts our health and well being in their pursuit of profit.
18.
on 20 Oct 2007 at 6:31 am Scott Starr

Many believers and Christians today have an underdeveloped knowledge of proper theology and proper biblical concept. It seems that they are guided more by political ideology rather than by sound biblical teaching. When discussing the purpose for the creation and existence of mankind and/or studying the book of Genesis and the creation story people do not seem to have a clear understanding of the purpose for man or of the rest of creation that ties it all together. I have heard the point made many times that God created man to glorify Himself. This is true. Yet if we do not understand or cannot explain fully what that means- we cannot really worship effectively or witness to other people effectively.

If we say to the unbeliever or potential believer, “God just likes to be worshipped,” and do not explain more fully, the listener may well go away guffawing because it could be said that what you have just described is a psychotic egomaniac- a God that has created an entire reality just so he can have someone to give him flattery and adulation. The truth is that there is far more to the concept of worship than this. Also, when teaching doesn’t cover this point with sound and thorough explanation it sends believers out ill- equipped to answer tough questions from the world.

So what is the purpose of mankind and all life, of all creation and of worship?

There are many verses throughout the Bible that proclaim the purpose for the creation of the cosmos. Simply put, all creation was made to glorify and reveal God. God created the Earth and mankind to reveal himself throughout the universe, to share himself with and through life and to commune with and through mankind and the rest of his creation. God made man special… with a special place and purpose in creation… to tend and take care of his garden and to be holy. Most people that are familiar with Judeo-Christian tradition know the rest of the story… man rebelled. Yet God’s original purpose for man and the rest of the cosmos is still intact, in force and has been reconciled by Jesus Christ.

Romans 1:18-20 says this:

18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

Colossians 1:15-20 says this:

The Supremacy of Christ

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Now let us clarify what worship is. Worship is not meant to be a groveling, flattering experience for man to kiss the feet of a God who needs adulation. Worship has the same purpose that man and all of the rest of creation has- that is to commune with God… to share in God’s presence… to participate with God. Worship is as much for man as for God. Worship is a gift from God for man to share in his presence and his glory, to commune and to experience holiness and be joined together in spirit and in truth.

Jesus himself, the King of all Creation (Col. 1:15-20), spoke these words to a Samaritan woman he encountered at a community well:

John 4:23-24

23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Living a life of spirituality that is grounded in truth is worship. Worship is not supposed to be relegated to the few hours a week that we sit in a Church pew. In a sense, all life, all creation, is supposed to exist as worship.

I am always amazed at the resistance and debate that I get when I assert the Christian, people- perhaps even moreso than others, actually do have a role and responibilty to play in the maintenace of the natural world… AKA “the environment”. Too many Christians in my view, have made “the environment” something abstract… something that is “out there” separate from themselves and from God and something thus inconsequential to our walk as Christians and our concerns as men. It is true “the environment” is for mankind to be in stewardship over and for us to use. Yet, how are we to “be fruitful and multiply” if we do not acknowledge, understand and accept the full purpose God has charged us with in the Earth? Caring for the Earth and worshipfully observing our purpose ordained by God also enables us to better love our neighbors and maintain public health, to be witnesses for God’s purposes and better commune prayerfully with God.

How is it that Christians have allowed themselves to be distracted and deterred from this vital role we are meant to play by terms like “tree hugger”? Would you like to see the Church grow and like to see all those “environmental wackos” out there converted to people using their passions for enlarging the Kingdom of God? Then I think its time for the Church to rediscover this aspect of God’s intent for his people and include it as part of a Godly, balanced worldview. We are not talking about becoming environmental activists or engaging in godless naturalism here.

I have often heard it said… even by Christian people that “all of this environmental stuff is mainly a political ploy”. I actually challenge this notion at its core. I remember having this conversation with an Uncle of mine. he simply could not understand why anyone should be concerned about the environment because it will just be burned up someday. I explained to him that his own house was destined for destruction and decay as was his own physical body and asked if this was really a good excuse for not taking care of his home or his body. So you see, this concept of stewardship for our home planet, the very ground of our being, is not just political… its spiritual.

Creation itself bears witness to the glory and nurture and nature of God. The universe itself testifies to God as it contains intelligence, direction and purpose as exemplified in physical growth cycles, birth, youth, maturity and fulfillment. The universe itself testifies to God in that it has moral content… that is to say that there is a right and proper way to live in the universe. It is the task of Godly people to seek that right way to live. Thus, our relationship to the universe is not that its just like some big buffet feast merely for our consumption. Our relationship to it, according to God’s purposes as defined in the Bible, is to be that of stewardship. Every link in the food chain, every species and every part of the various ecosystems of earth has a special and specific purpose in maintianing the overall harmony and balance. so why are we humans here? It should be obvious. We are perhaps the only species capable of taking care of all of the other species and systems that God has placed in our trust.

Hence, the mandate to “be fruitful and multiply”. We simply can’t do that if we live or act irresponsibly with regards to ecology.

Part of loving our neighbors also entails not only enabling godly societies and governments but also healthy environments that have clean air and water.

Too often, Christian people let the idea that this Earth will pass away mis-lead them away from their responsibilities as stewards. They forget that as humans we are the only species on this planet that is capable of protecting the whole- and that was our assignment by God in the beginning. They forget that when we harm the earth, the balance of nature- we do violence to ourselves- to other people- because as humans we are dependant on nature, as the very ground of our being, to feed us, to provide clean water and air and a network of life that is cyclical, nuturing and sustaining to the health and well being of ALL life. Thus- it cannot be denied that nature has order, has natural law and therefore has balance, purpose and even a morality about it. Even though science tries to convince us that life is merely some big bio-chemical accident- science simply cannot come up with any explanation for the existence of purpose and/or moral order. The fact that this Earth will soon pass away in no way relieves us of the responsibility of taking care of it until God decides out time is up. Taking the “it doesn’t matter anyway” approach to the ecosystem God has gifted us with makes about as much sense as not maintaining the health of your household, your own body or the bodies of your children- because “they are just going to die someday anyways”. When we take care of our nest- we take care of everybody else as well as ourselves- is this not a form of loving your neighbor?

To understand the point I am working with here- do a serious word study on the Hebrew terms Ruach and Nephesh.

Consider also the message of a large portion of the Psalms (like Ps 136;104). These reveal that part of reverence and regard for God includes recognition of his majesty as expressed in nature. Such regard is part of holiness, worship and communion with God. We are to love and obey God, love righteousness and hate evil as in disharmony, destruction, chaos and discord. Because God (and Christ in God) is Creator of nature and the director of human history, He controls nature and historical events. Free human sinners may thwart or work against His purposes for creation for the time being, but His ultimate goal for creation and His purpose of redemption shall be achieved. The will of God shall be done on earth, in history, as it is done in Heaven. The Lord’s ultimate goal for his creation is an age of peace, the realization of the kingdom of God on earth
(Ps 46:8-11). To say God is sovereign King of the universe means that HE cannot be controlled or manipulated by man. He hears our laments and complaints but remains free to act how and when He chooses. He saves from destruction and dispenses justice. God’s sovereignty extends over the whole of creation and all the nations (Ps 22:27-28). His kingdom, across all generations, is everlasting. People do not discover God. He reveals himself to them. God pours out his spirit in all of creation and nature. It is to be respected in this light. This respect is part of a worshipful attitude towards God and necessary to any human efforts at the holiness God desires from us. To even attempt holiness we are to put our spirit, our mind, our purposes in accord with God’s intents and purposes and designs. We are to love goodness and godliness and hate even the appearance of evil.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13 All has been heard; the end of the matter is: Fear God [revere and worship Him, knowing that He is] and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man [the full, original purpose of his creation, the object of God’s providence, the root of character, the foundation of all happiness, the adjustment to all inharmonious circumstances and conditions under the sun] and the whole [duty] for every man.

14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it is good or evil.

Laying aside all this high end philosophy and theology. The point I am seeking to make is simple in the most practical of terms. It really comes down to a matter of respect and gratitude. When we humans, especially believers, operate with a sense of entitlement and selfishness like spoiled children running afoul on the master’s property- we cannot enjoy a fully realized or empowered prayer life. Gratitude for every breath, every drink of water and every bite of food is the basis for what I am saying.

Consider these questions;

Who is God of this world?

Who is God of all creation, earth and all matter that it contains?

What is the difference between the concept of “the world” and the definition of all creation and earth?

Who is sovereign over the world and the systems that damage and pollute

Who is the Sovereign over the earth?

I was reminded of this as I drove this morning by a radio broadcast sermon. The sermon by John MacArthur which was otherwise a good one basically dismissed the whole subject of earth and our proper relationship to it in one swoop as “the false religion of environmentalism”. I then did a search on the subject looking for MacArthur’s thoughts on the subject. I was glad to find a little more fleshed out theology on the subject here. I have heard MacArthur touch on this subject via the radio more than once and usually he does not qualify his statements even as much as is found here. Even here, I find his reasoning to be a bit lacking. I respect Mr. MacArthur’s teaching and am quite fond of it. However on these matters I do have caveats.

I will assert again that the proper, Biblical perspective on the issue of environment is key. If we have proper biblical perspective- there is no room for “the false religion of environmentalism”. It is true that when any “ism” or any thing displaces God at the center of life- then it is idolatry. Environmentalism, militarism, democratism, republicanism, anti-abortionism, atheism, communism, humanism, etc. etc. are all then on equal terms when they displace the Father, Son and Holy Ghost and the rules that of conduct that they have set forth as the apex and focus of all existence. I contend that simply dismissing the whole subject of man’s relationship to creation with blanket labels like “the false religion of environmentalism” is a false and possibly even heretical teaching as much as humanism or any other “ism”. I have laid out a pretty simple and yet complex case on this.

The point should also be made that I am in no way asserting that the sin of environmental disregard and destruction is a greater sin than say that of murder or drunkenness or sexual perversion. I am asserting that it is a sin on equal terms with other sin. It goes against God and our fellow man.

Taking the entire subject of ecology and labeling it as godless and as “the false religion of environmentalism” without qualifying it makes about as much sense to me as taking the subject of sex and calling it godless and labeling it as “the false religion of sexism” without qualification.

Just as sex has its purpose and its place in God’s design- so does man’s relationship to the “environment”. Moving outside the proper place and perspective of God’s design for sex is a sin as is doing the same with regards to environment. There are distinctions and they must be acknowledged and understood.

For more on these vital topics also visit these posts:

The Misuse of "Radah" (dominion)

A Biblical View of the Environment

A Christian View of the Environment


The Meaning of Genesis


Why Are We Here?

Project Earth: Preserving the World God Created

Quantum Freewill, the Breath and Spirit of God...

Doing Lunch With The Almighty


Poverty, Pollution and Environmental Racism

Eleven Inherent rules of Corporate Behavior

Is God Green?

Thank You For This Earth


Indigenous Mind

1 comment:

Scott Starr said...

A friend of mine who is catholic just sent me this interesting article:

Holy See: Environmental Crisis is a Moral Problem
By Zenit News Agency
10/31/2007
Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)
Archbishop Celestino Migliore addresses the United Nations


Holy See calls for a new alliance between Man and Nature emphasizing that what is needed is a "positive vision of the human being" who is called to care for the environment. In this vision, the human being "...perfects and ennobles the environment by his or her creative activity."


NEW YORK (Zenit) - Protecting the environment means more than just defending it, says the Holy See, because protecting the environment implies an alliance with the human being.

Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, affirmed this during an address delivered Monday to the 62nd U.N. General Assembly, on the topic of sustainable development.

He said: "Protecting the environment implies a more positive vision of the human being, in the sense that the person is not considered a nuisance or a threat to the environment, but one who holds oneself responsible for the care and management of the environment.

"In this sense, not only is there no opposition between the human being and the environment, there is established an inseparable alliance, in which the environment essentially conditions man’s life and development, while the human being perfects and ennobles the environment by his or her creative activity."

Archbishop Migliore affirmed that all people share responsibility for the protection of the environment, and "while the duty to protect the environment should not be considered in opposition to development, it must not be sacrificed on the altar of economic development."

Morality

The archbishop affirmed, in fact, that the "environmental crisis" is, at its core, a "moral challenge."

"It calls us to examine how we use and share the goods of the earth and what we pass on to future generations. It exhorts us to live in harmony with our environment. Thus the ever-expanding powers of the human being over nature must be accompanied by an equally expanding responsibility toward the environment," he said.

Archbishop Migliore drew attention to the role of extreme poverty in the environmental question.

"We must consider how in most countries today, it is the poor and the powerless who most directly bear the brunt of environmental degradation," he stated. "Unable to do otherwise, they live in polluted lands, near toxic waste dumps, or squat in public lands and other people’s properties without any access to basic services. Subsistence farmers clear woodlands and forests in order to survive.

"Their efforts to eke out a bare existence perpetuate a vicious circle of poverty and environmental degradation. Indeed, extreme want is not only the worst of all pollutions; it is also a great polluter."

However, the prelate contended, "all is not gloom."

He explained: "Encouraging signs of greater public awareness of the interrelatedness of the challenges we face have been emerging.

"A more caring attitude toward nature can be attained and maintained with education and a persevering awareness campaign. The more people know about the various aspects of the environmental challenges they face, the better they can respond."