Why should Christians care for the environment?

This month in Washington, D.C., a significant conference was held under the auspices of the Joint Appeal by Science and Religion for the Environment. Next week, in Rio de Janeiro, "Earth Summit" is scheduled to convene on June 1, bringing together national leaders from around the globe. These are important indicators of how seriously environmental issues are being taken today. And clearly it isn't only among thoughtful politicians, scientists, and religious workers that there is concern. Many thousands of average citizens as well are waking up to the urgent need to provide better care for our planet. The Christian Science Monitor reports, for example, that 80 percent of Americans now think of themselves as environmentalists.

The challenges we confront, however, are obviously many and varied, broad and complex. "The world may not know for decades," Time magazine states, "how costly the years of recklessness will be." And with the issues so large and the potential effects extending over such a long time-frame, it is difficult for even the most knowledgeable professionals in the field of environmental research to assess the problems adequately. For most of the rest of us, the difficulty in even beginning to understand the issues involved, much less in actually addressing them in any meaningful way, can make the task appear hopeless at times.

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