Oceans—Who Can Save Them?
ONE fall day in 1988, nine men and four women jumped off a New York City bridge—all at once. They plummeted some 70 feet [20 m] and then hung motionless, dangling from mountaineering ropes, waiting. Their intent? To block the passage of a barge loaded with sludge to dump in the ocean. The outcome was anticlimactic; the barge simply went around the protesters by another route and dumped its refuse as usual. The protesters were finally arrested.
Many others are struggling doggedly, but by legal means, to prevent the death of the world’s oceans. Treaties abound, and laws have proliferated. Legislation has been enacted that forbids the dumping of plastics into the ocean. Tankers have been forbidden to dump their oily waste water. Some rivers and shorelines have successfully been cleaned up.
In overview, though, triumphs are rare and failures common. Environmentalists fear that as long as it is cheaper to dump wastes into the ocean, there will be those who dodge the laws, just as the sludge barge mentioned earlier dodged the protesters. Sadly, what often decides these questions is money, the profit motive. Protecting the environment yields little of it and costs plenty.
Is God to Blame?
Yet, Time magazine saw the pollution problem as urgent enough to forgo naming a “man of the year.” Instead, its January 1989 issue named the beleaguered Earth “Planet of the Year.” Interestingly, though, such articles on environmental crises at times take deeply cynical views of the Bible.
The article in Time opened by quoting Ecclesiastes 1:4: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth forever.” “No, not forever,” the article’s author commented. “At the outside limit, the earth will probably last another 4 billion to 5 billion years.” The same author later remarked that the command to the first human pair to ‘subdue the earth’ “could be interpreted as an invitation to use nature as a convenience. Thus the spread of Christianity, which is generally considered to have paved the way for the development of technology, may at the same time have carried the seeds of the wanton exploitation of nature.” Life magazine even went so far as to list the Bible’s promise that “the meek shall inherit the earth” among ridiculous and false predictions.
All such statements have a common thread: They are based on the assumptions that either God does not exist or he did not inspire the Bible or he does not have the wisdom and power to direct his creation and fulfill his promises. What do you think? Is there not a certain arrogance in making these assumptions without evidence? Anyone who has witnessed the awesome power and beauty of the ocean in a storm has seen firsthand evidence that the One who created our planet is indeed powerful. His wisdom is evident everywhere in the oceans and in the life that teems in them.
God’s command to ‘subdue the earth’ was not license to destroy it but rather the bestowal of an office of stewardship, a responsibility to care for and cultivate the earth. After all, if by commanding mankind to ‘subdue the earth,’ God meant that we should turn it into the pollution-mired mess that it is fast becoming today, then why did he provide Adam and Eve with the paradisaic garden of Eden to use as a model? And why did God tell man “to cultivate it and to take care of it” and eventually spread its boundaries by subduing the “thorns and thistles” growing outside this model garden?—Genesis 2:15; 3:18.
In fact, the Bible long ago made a remarkable prediction that could only apply to our own destructive generation, namely, that Jehovah is going “to bring to ruin those ruining the earth.” (Revelation 11:18) Bible prophecy indicates that the time is near.
Yet, some blame God for pollution and point to man himself as the answer, the only hope. Reason suggests the contrary—that man himself is to blame, that the answer is far beyond him. Blaming God is nothing new. Proverbs 19:3 long ago exposed that myopic human viewpoint: “Some people ruin themselves by their own stupid actions and then blame the Lord.”—Today’s English Version.
The stewardship instituted in Eden some six thousand years ago is not obsolete. Anyone today who respects the Creator can show it by respecting his works instead of heedlessly fouling the environment. Each of us can help to keep the oceans clean. (See below.) But sadly, this world system is set up so that anyone who wants to contribute nothing at all to the pollution of the earth and seas would have to become a hermit, isolated in the wilderness. Imitators of Jesus don’t have such an option open to them; their ministry does not allow that.—Matthew 28:19, 20.
So the only hope for the complete end to the pollution of the oceans lies not with us but with God. His promises stand in stark contrast with man’s failures; he has never failed to fulfill one of them. That is why these words from the Bible can be of such comfort to us: “You are Jehovah alone; you yourself have made the heavens, even the heaven of the heavens, and all their army, the earth and all that is upon it, the seas and all that is in them; and you are preserving all of them alive.”—Nehemiah 9:6.
Soon, lasting beauty will be restored to the earth and its oceans. Yes, the “deep and dark blue ocean” will roll on—alive forever. The Creator will make sure of that.
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WHAT YOU CAN DO
How you can treat the oceans with respect:
◼ When boating and fishing, follow this simple rule: If you brought it out with you, bring it back with you. This applies especially to plastic materials. Try to minimize the loss of fishing line. Properly dispose of engine oil ashore, not at sea.
◼ At the beach, the above rule applies. Try to keep an eye on the plastic items you brought with you—bags for sandwiches, yokes holding soda cans together, plastic utensils, and bottles of lotion. Remember how easily some of these things will blow away if not weighted down. Before leaving, survey the area carefully, and take your garbage with you.
◼ Follow the same procedure when picnicking, fishing, or boating on rivers and lakes and their shores. Remember that polluting a river is wrong in itself. Furthermore, what you dump in a river may end up in the ocean later on to do still more damage.
◼ Obey all local laws on waste disposal and recycling.
◼ When washing clothes and dishes, use no more detergent than the job requires.
◼ Water, like air, is one of the basic essentials for life. Respect it, don’t pollute it.
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“This far you may come, and no farther.”—Job 38:11