Hurricane Dorian just finished thrashing the Bahama Islands and is crawling along the east coast, eroding beaches and ruining countless vacations. This storm is the latest incarnation of nature’s fury, which despite our best technology and planning, still manages to unleash death and destruction. As technology and planning improves, death and destruction is mitigated by degrees, but the fact remains that we are still at the mercy of the Earth in all aspects.
If you’ve been paying attention the 24-hour news cycle, you might get the idea that humanity is to blame for any natural upheavals, especially as it relates to the weather. The talking heads ponder how industrialization directly correlates to strong storms such as Dorian. The world’s average temperature has increased over the last several decades and the debate remains about the causes and effects. There is no question that we should take care of the world as its stewards (Gen. 1:28) but the ideological battle rages on about whether we are responsible for the turmoil we see around us.
This tension is reflected in our entertainment as well. One of the most famous weather-gone-wild movies is The Day After Tomorrow, which was made before the climate change debate really shifted into overdrive. In that movie, mankind is simply at the whims of Mother Nature who decides to freeze nearly every first-world country. The commentary is more socioeconomic than environmental, but Hollywood gave it another bumbling shot with the comedy I mean serious drama Geostorm, in which well-meaning scientists try to control the weather but end up creating…you guessed it…a global storm system. The moral of the story: leave nature alone.
Obviously this is impossible, since we live in the world and we are commanded to subdue it (not abuse it, but not to merely exist either). Yet the idea that humanity is a scourge upon this world is gaining traction, especially in the developed world. There is an entire movement devoted to the voluntary extinction of the human race which asks people to stop reproducing (though not to abstain from sex, because come on, don’t be a prude). Children and families are seen as burdens rather than blessings, and the people who would appear to be in the best positions to provide for families are choosing to forego that route entirely and focus their energies on themselves and their pets.
Numerous films have tackled the issues of overpopulation (Elysium) and global infertility (Children of Men) and neither possibility looks appealing. If you asked the average Joe on the street, they might tell you that this world is screwed no matter what and we should just start over on Mars or in another solar system. After all, it looked so easy in Interstellar, right?
Here is the bottom line: creation groans and yearns to be freed from its inherent corruption (Rom. 8:21-22). Regardless of whether or not our cars and factories and farting cows are heating up the atmosphere, this world will never be at peace. The very ground hates us and produces thorns and thistles. By all means, we should take care of what is in our charge, but we should also realize that the only thing that will make this world truly wonderful is the return of its Maker.