The Planet Groans

More by accident than anything we watched the BBC’s Frozen Planet II on Sunday evening, watching the intimate lives of creatures and how they survived or succumbed to the merciless cold on the mountains in some of the most extreme environments on the planet. The astonishing photography made possible by fast moving drones, the subtle incidental music, and the up-close encounters with wild animals, unaware of humans watching their every mood, even in the dark, made for stunning viewing. We were following avalanches racing down the mountains crushing all in their path, eagles seizing chamois in their claws and dropping them over high cliffs and a lone puma trying unsuccessfully to pick off a guanaco in the Andes. It was spectacular. It was also savage and brutal. The young flamingos left by their elders to die in the frozen waist or struggling to fly weighed down with heavy lumps of ice. The predator and the prey.

Inevitably there was the barely concealed sermon on the evils of global warming and climate change. The extremely complex issue of the environment was reduced, once again, to a very simple narrative. It didn’t need an exposition; it was there in the words and the things unsaid. We all know what it means.  The almost certain cataclysm, that is soon to come, is a direct result of selfish human activity and wrapped up in, what many describe, with good reason, as a religion. The belief is that a reckoning is coming, (a final judgement) it has been caused by us (humanity) it is a result of who we are and what we are born with (original sin) and the only way that the coming catastrophe can be averted is by a singular sacrifice (redemption). The little sacrifices we might make, like turning the heating down or eating less meat are not enough to appease this god, it has to be something big, momentous and for all time. What that might be is not clear, but the abandoning of nation states with one central world government, the abolition of capitalism and consumerism and the culling of humanity has been muted.

As is so often the case, the prophets of this religion are clearly on to something. There is certainly some truth in it and the bible seems to confirm it, pointing to the state of the natural world suffering, and humanity with it, as a direct result of the human sin. Paul’s says something like that in his letter to the Romans (Romans 8:18-25). But there is a fatal flaw in this false religion. It misses out the creator (God) and it rejects the saviour (Jesus Christ). We have to be our own saviours. All we have is ourselves.  It is only by acting together that we can save the planet.

Now none of this was actually said or spelled out in the programme, but it didn’t need to be. Simply to mention the vague terms “Global warming” or “Climate change” the message gets through and there was, and there is, no room for any other alternative explanation of why things happen.

Later in the week we slipped into watching that national treasure Michael Palin on his trip through Iraq. It was fascinating, but sure enough Global warming had to get a mention. The struggles of the Iraqis in one region was not as a result of the brutal inhumanity of Saddam Hussein or the terrible devastation visited upon the nation by the West, no, it was because the climate was changing.

Both programmes were followed by a long advert for the BBC, that is currently running. It explaining how we must trust the organisation because it is rigorously searching for the truth.

It isn’t just the planet that groans.

6 thoughts on “The Planet Groans

  1. Very nice post again.
    I haven’t seen Into Iraq, but when I listen to Radio 4 (less and less, these days), it seems that just about every programme, even if not ostensibly about the climate, tries to shoehorn it in. Growing tired of it. Also concerning is that the station casually states in many of its programmes that we will fundamentally need to change our way of life. No debate. Indeed, anyone wanting debate is immediately deemed an unbeliever.

  2. How do you fit into that the fact that very many Christians (including evangelicals) accept that there is a human-caused climate emergency and that their analysis does not exclude God?

    • I am not quite sure how to answer that. I can’t speak for Christians or Evangelicals and I am not now even sure if I know what these terms actually mean. They seem pretty fluid and encompass a pretty wide spectrum. But I understand why someone who believes in God and trusts the Bible would agree that the pain of the planet can be laid at the feet of human beings. It was what I was trying to say in the piece.
      So, I am wholly on board with Climate Change and, in that sense, and have no difficulty in accepting the reality of anthropological climate change. I agree on the cause but it is the remedy where we diverge.

      • Late in reply- I was stumped for an answer and it is because I don’t really have one. I don’t think there is a remedy, at least from a purely human point of view. While there have been some astonishing achievements throughout history and especially in recent times, we have never been wholly successful in stopping wars, abolishing slavery, eliminating poverty or eradicating disease. Any successes, we have made, have been limited in time and geography, so I have no confidence that on our own, left to our own devices, we would do any better with climate change. I know it sounds like cliched spiritual talk, but the remedy, I am convinced, is in God’s hands and I have confidence in him.

      • That is not a charter for despair, and I don’t think we can be like Jonah, under his fig tree, waiting on God to destroy the city, when God’s intention was to save it. So, I would pray and do everything I could to halt the destruction, but I don’t see how an ideology which denies the Creator can save the planet he has created.

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