Monday, December 01, 2008

Saving the World

I work for a company that's "green." If you're not familiar, that means we're ecologically aware. We try to encourage recycling whenever possible to reduce our carbon footprint. Again, to some a familiar term.... to others, total gibberish.

This being said, I began to really think about this today at work. I'm all for doing our part to reduce waste and keep things clean. However, when you go deeper into this subject, people typically split into two factions. One group typically believes that recycling isn't super-important. They're either supportive of it, but not passionate (that's where I live) or they're totally opposed to it and think it's a waste of time. The other group is strongly supportive, to the point to being dogmatic and even religious about it.

There's two ideologies at work, I believe, that form the basis for these two group's attitudes towards recycling. One mode of thought involves the belief that we're not fully responsible for the ultimate destiny of the earth. The other set of beliefs holds that it is our full and sovereign duty to uphold the earth...or else. While I'm all for doing what we can to save paper, reduce waste, re-use materials, I'm not going to obsess over it and spend all my time and energy to make sure I do that. I'll do it when I can and work to change my habits, but I don't feel dread that, if I don't save everything, the earth will perish. I believe the earth is on a timetable that God is in control of and ultimately, that God will redeem this earth. Do I trash it in the meantime? No. But, I don't feel the weight of the impossible task of trying to sustain the earth.

The second set of beliefs - the ones supporting the belief that we are fully responsible for the sustainability of the earth - doesn't hold to the worldview of a God who's in control, at least as far as I can figure or conclude. If so, why would there be such a push to "save the world," as if we had the ability to even do that? I don't agree with a humanist POV, which imagines it possible that we are not only responsible for saving the planet, but that we are even capable of that feat. Even if every human alive were to be on the same team, in one accord of effort, I don't think we could sustain life or all the resources indefinitely. I don't believe it was meant to be around, in its current state, forever.

What are your thoughts on this issue?


steve and randel hambrick said...

i wouldnt say i'm obsessed per se, but i think about my role in being "green" ALOT.
every piece of paper i throw away, every styrofoam cup i use somewhere, the light bulbs i purchase, when i leave a light on in a room i'm no longer in, the water i use in the shower or in the sink.. i'm aware all the time. and i recycle everything i can. i don't think the world is on the fast track to destruction if i don't do it, but i care about making a difference. and ultimately some of it helps my pocketbook as well-- energy use, water use, etc.
i have to admit it bugs me to pass a trash can full of recyclables. can't we all make an effort? it's just not that hard. i took my recycling in last week, and the guy there showed me a pallet of cardboard that was being recycled. he said that one of those pallets save 6 (or 9- i cant remember) trees. i've recycled at least one of those pallets worth of stuff. and it just means putting my trash in a separate bin in the garage instead of using one can. big deal.

Dan said...

I'd count myself in the first camp. My favorite commentary on this comes from the last chapter or so of the book Jurrasic Park, where Malcolm the chaotician (Jeff Goldblum in the film) basically tells the park's owner, who's a borderline ecologoical fanatic, that considering how long the earth has been around---billions of years, by most estimates---and how much it's been through---several climate changes, meteorite bombardments, etc.---it's pretty arrogant for mankind (one species out of many) to thing that they and they alone have the power to destroy it.

I'm not sure how true all that is, but it's fun to twist the tails of "greenies" with it.

ManUtd17 said...

I come down on the side of doing what I can. I've retrained myself to be aware of things that I can recycle. We use the blue bin for recycling. Jen even drives to the recycling center to drop off glass that the city won't pick up in the blue bins. (Not sure I'd do that if it were left to me, but I might.) I'm always turning off lights as I walk through the house (but I would do that anyway to reduce the bill).

But I don't mind playing devil's advocate and messing with a tree-hugger if the opportunity presents itself.

brad said...

I think a lot of people are trying to get rich off of global warming. I can accept recycling...landfills fill up and it would be nice to not have so much trash taking up space. But, when it is mandated by the government through higher taxes and scare tactics, I run the other way. The light bulbs they encourage us to use are freaking toxic if they break. Also, Randel, saving water is great but it doesn't necessarily save money. Everybody cut back on water for fear of running out and the water co.'s just raised our bills to make up for lost revenue. They must do as they preach as well for these things to be viable.