When my granddaughter was about 5, I use to entertain her with fairy tales. At each retelling, she and I would think up some new variations on the classics. After a while, the Three Bears morphed into a story about modern bears living in the North Georgia mountains.
The result was my one and only book. The Three Bears as told by columnist, Joan King, inspired by granddaughter Anna King and illustrated by daughter Susan King. I sold a few copies and gave away many more. On each fly-page, I wrote a verse from Bible: “In the beginning God created the wild animals of the Earth ... and God saw that it was good.” Genesis 1:25
The book was for little children, but I wanted to remind the adults who read it to them that from the very beginning God cared about the Earth and its many creatures. Today, unfortunately, many of God’s creatures are threatened by man himself. Species loss is increasing every year, and with each loss I think a bit of man’s soul is loss as well.
Perhaps that’s why so many people feel depressed, why we resort to drugs and alcohol to make us feel good, and why we are so obsessed with wealth and power. While I don’t take the Bible literally, I do pay attention to scripture. Where the literalist looks at Genesis and sees history, I look at it and see prophecy. The Garden of Eden is the Earth, and man is degrading it with his unrestrained and ill thought-out technology — the dark side of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
The Earth has always lost a certain number of species, but as one species became extinct, another took its place. It’s the present rate of extinction that’s alarming. Today species lost is outstripping species replacement.
One reason is the destruction of natural habitat. (This is what happens to our Three Bears.) Pressure on the animal kingdom grows each year as more land is claimed for development. The result: Some areas suffer flood; some are devastated by drought.
It’s easy to say the climate has always fluctuated. We can deal with it. We have air conditioning. We have flood control. New technology to control the weather is just around the corner.
Who cares if the climate changes? Of course, some people simply deny global climate change all together.
Since I started out with a Biblical reference, let’s consider scripture once again. God became angry and sent a flood to destroy the corrupt, but first He warned Noah, and Noah saved “... every living thing.” Genesis 6:19.
Look at this as a form of prophecy. Science tells us that as the earth becomes warmer and as the glaciers melt, ocean levels will rise. This is not speculation. We can see it happening now.
While we hardly can gather two of every living thing — today that would include all the microbes and bacteria that are part of any living system — we can do something to save the animal kingdom. Moreover, as religious people, we have an obligation to make the attempt.
Whether we accept Noah as a historical figure or part of a sacred myth doesn’t make any difference. God’s people must speak out in defense of God’s creation. But be prepared. Many people either deny the scientific evidence for climate change or refuse to accept responsibility for their part in it.
Nobody likes to discover they’ve been wrong, not individuals, not corporations, not politicians and political pundits, especially those who have gone on record opposing the legitimacy of global warming. Yet this is what has to happen.
Many individuals, many institutions, have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, and they have money to lobby Congress. It’s time to balance the power of money with the power of faith. It’s time to speak out and assume responsibility for God’s gift of creation.
Joan King lives in Sautee. Her column appears biweekly on Tuesdays and at gainesvilletimes.com/viewpoint.