COMMENTARY: EARTH DAY 2017

Thomas Sheffield, Special to The New Tri-State Defender | 4/21/2017, 10:30 a.m.
Taking care of the earth is God’s work — and ours.

Last week we celebrated the resurrection of Jesus. This week, we get to celebrate the earth as Earth Day is upon us. It is our duty as Christians to care for the earth. Being a good steward of the earth is a spiritual practice.

This is evident in Scripture. Genesis 2:15 tells us God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. This charge for Adam is really a charge for us all and is never revoked.

Unfortunately, our government – run by “Christians” – is not following this Scripture. Too many of our leaders believe it is OK to destroy the earth, deny climate change and our part in it; and all for financial gain. Meanwhile, African-American communities suffer the most from environmental issues and take the longest time to recover from them.

We all need a clean earth to survive. No matter your race, religion or economic class, we all need a clean environment to live productive lives. That being said, no particular race, religion or economic class should bear the burden of an unclean environment.

Where we live plays a huge role in the environmental benefits and risks we are forced to deal with. Impoverished areas are short on benefits such as green spaces but carry an unequal burden of toxic waste. And people of color make up two-thirds of communities located near hazardous waste facilities.

This is why Earth Day is important. It brings subjects such as environmental justice to light. Earth Day builds community activism and reconnects us to the awareness of how we treat the earth.

The earth’s climate is changing. Overall, temperatures are rising, snow and rainfall patterns are shifting and more extreme climate events such as hurricanes, record high temperatures and record amounts of snowfalls are already happening.

These events are having a direct effect on our health and our money. There are more heat related deaths in the summer and it seems the ragweed pollen season is longer and more severe. Many who become sick find themselves saddled with health-care cots that are insurmountable.

What can we do to get environmental justice?

For years, I have been stressing the importance of letting your voice be heard by voting. Next, we must keep those elected officials accountable for environmental stewardship. We must also keep voting with another powerful tool, our dollar. Buy local and support companies that support us.

Finally, let’s bring environmental stewardship home. Each of us most make sure to do what we can to protect the earth. We must become more mindful of what we do with our waste. Practice recycling and proper waste disposal.

Don’t hesitate to bring the subject up to your church pastor. Ask them to do right by the planet and lead the church toward a mission that includes environmental stewardship.

Let’s make Earth Day 2017 a pivotal time for our community to bring glory to God by doing what He commanded.

(Contact Thomas Sheffield at thomsustainableconsulting@gmail.com. Follow him: @tcsheff. #Resist #Wordsactionchange.)