We Are Stewards of This Earth

When God created heaven and earth, he commanded that humans be the stewards of His creation. When I look at what has been done to this creation today, I wonder if God is satisfied.

We have failed bitterly at being good stewards by focusing on our own needs. What was given to us to protect we have exploited. We have systematically cleared millions of acres of ancient rainforests and jungles. We have over-fished the waters and hunted birds and wild animals. We have plundered the mountains and fields for natural resources without any strategies for conservation.

On the other hand, there is one biblical command that we seem to have followed very well: “Multiply and fill the earth.” The world’s population grew to more than six billion people last year, and the effects of advancing urbanization are felt around the globe. Eighty per cent of the population now lives in cities, utilizing fossil fuels that contribute to the greenhouse effect and global warming, and polluting the environment with garbage, plastic and industrial waste.

When world leaders meet to discuss these very problems, they can find no solutions. Why? The reality is that legislating massive changes in human behaviour patterns would have a disastrous effect on industry. Legislated programs for a cleaner, healthier world are too often inconvenient and just too expensive.

Food, for instance, has become money-driven a commodity to be traded on the stock market. The factory-style production and monoculture farming methods promoted today may be more economical for large companies and guaranteed to bring more profits, but they also have a detrimental long-term effect on the environment and our health.

Take the United Nations world hunger relief and food program. It was designed with the co-operation of other government bodies, marketing boards and multinational companies to combat world hunger. To provide for the world’s needy is indeed a noble goal. Unfortunately, the way program decision-makers go about doing it is affected more by greed than good intentions. Genetically modified foods and chemical agriculture are promoted as possible solutions to help end world hunger, when, in fact, they may create more harm than good in the long run.

Raising cattle for beef is another example of how our food and lifestyle choices impact the world we live in. McDonald’s is the world’s largest meat buyer. Every four hours, this fast-food chain opens a new restaurant somewhere in the world. To support this trend, more than one million acres of jungle are cleared in Central Africa every year for this purpose, and in Costa Rica and the Amazons this figure is even higher.

Have we in our modern, civilized culture become so used to the mass production of meat that the ethics and scandals connected with this system leave us cold? Do we care about “concentration camp” chickens raised in wire cages, or pigs crammed into small stalls? The factory-type meat production and way of raising animals today is not only a questionable practice from a medical and nutritional point of view, but it is also an unethical choice and a step away from our responsibility to be stewards of the earth.

Have we misused our privilege of stewardship to the point of no return? Or is there still a way out? Yes, I think there is.

The driving force for political and societal change has and always will come from consumers. We can all make meaningful contributions by simply getting involved. Join a consumer group such as Health Action Network Society (hans.org) or the Consumer Health Organization of Canada (consumerhealth.org), both of which monitor food, environment and health issues, and help to keep the government accountable to us, the people.

Every day can be a day for small but worthwhile changes. We can personally change our shopping and eating habits by buying organic and by supporting environmentally friendly and ethical business practices. The key is, let’s wake up and do something. Our collective conscience is pointing the way and urging us to act responsibly on behalf of future generations.

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