Friday, June 08, 2007


iCommentary by Living Lee

I attended a technical talk by a world water and climate change expert from the University of Western Australia yesterday and was quite taken aback by what he told us about the state of our planet. Global warming is predicted to raise sea levels by about one meter in the next 50 years. What that means is many coastal areas where we live and grow our crops will be drowned and many places rendered uninhabitable.

In addition to that large areas like the Amazon will be destroyed by water deficiency while other areas will suffer flooding. Many people will be displaced and have to migrate to other places in order to survive. The scientists have also taken much of the guesswork out of predicting changing climatic patterns by very sophisticated real-time monitoring systems that are already in place all over the world.

The thing that struck me most during the talk was not the technical aspects but the human aspect of the problem that the speaker highlighted. How did we end up messing up the self-healing feedback systems that has kept the water, carbon and other cycles in balance for most of our planet's history? He attributed it to humans having developed a psychological reliance on technology.

We have adopted demand management and created a consumer culture gone mad. People, especially in the developed world, are buying and accumulating like there is no tomorrow without realising that they are using up tomorrow's resources today and making future generations pay for our greed.

Where did all this madness come from? He listed down three sources of social stress that bring about the dissatisfaction that make us consume.

They are:
(1) relative poverty: you are happy with earning a dollar a day if you have a job and everyone else around you earns about the same but you'd feel deprived in an affluent society;

(2) if you feel you have no control over your future;

(3) if you don't feel needed and are disconnected from others in your community.The interesting thing was how the above is connected to the loss of the spiritual when it was replaced by the physical. Man indeed cannot just live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4). He will remain dissatisfied and continue to try to fill that emptiness in his being
by stuffing it with things until he finds God.

What should we do as Christians?

(1) Continue to preach the gospel and invite the lost to taste and see that the Lord is good. Only God can satisfy and meet all our needs.

(2) Turn away from following the crowd in how we live and utilise the resources of this earth. We are to be responsible stewards not mindless consumers going for the bigger house or more powerful car just because we can afford it (or can borrow enough to pay for it) and not because we need it.

(3) We must establish credible communities in our churches and other social structures to meet the loneliness in man where he is valued for who he is rather than what he owns. Everyone is welcome and needed in our communities. Be counterculture and may we be found faithful when Jesus returns.

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