The earth is a chapel and the human race its resident congregants. Enter into the sanctuary. Be ushered in to the seats of worship. There are two special preachers in today’s gathering. The congregation is going through a gut-wrenching debate about the future of its sanctuary. It’s the threat of global warming. Many members of the worshipping community (i.e. the scientists, climatologists, and the like) are prophetically urging the human race to seriously consider the coming judgment upon the earth as a direct consequence of human environmental neglect and abuse. But there are loud opposing voices from the other side of the aisle (i.e. the industrialists, developers, and the like) who consider the other side as heretics… preaching a gospel that will destroy our human way of life… our well being. The science of global warming is the raging environmental theology that is being debated and fought over in this place of worship. Many ecumenical earth-church councils have been convened to put an end to the bickering between these factions in our earth-congregation. But somehow there is no resolution. Today is a special worship service. Our fellow congregants from the scientist section of the sanctuary have invited the two special preachers to address the human race. They are going to challenge the congregation who worships at this earth-chapel to respond to two prophetic revelations. These oracles are not visions of the future where the ultimate reality of global warming will be realized. Believe it or not these prophecies are from the past… the distant pre-historic past… where the final consequences of global warming had already been lived. Listen! The first preacher has taken center stage:
“ScienceDaily (Dec. 23, 2010) — A major new fossil site in south-west China has filled in a sizeable gap in our understanding of how life on this planet recovered from the greatest mass extinction of all time… The work is led by scientists from the Chengdu Geological Center in China. Some 250 million years ago, at the end of the time known as the Permian, life was all but wiped out during a sustained period of massive volcanic eruption and devastating global warming. Only one in ten species survived, and these formed the basis for the recovery of life in the subsequent time period, called the Triassic. The new fossil site — at Luoping in Yunnan Province — provides a new window on that recovery, and indicates that it took about 10 million years for a fully-functioning ecosystem to develop… We can tell that we’re looking at a fully recovered ecosystem… It’s a much greater diversity than what we see in the Early Triassic — and it’s close to pre-extinction levels. Reinforcing this conclusion is the complexity of the food web, with the bottom of the food chains dominated by species typical of later Triassic marine faunas — such as crustaceans, fishes and bivalves — and different from preceding ones. Just as important is the ‘debut’ of top predators… that fed on fishes and small predatory reptiles. The fossils at Luoping have told us a lot about the recovery and development of marine ecosystems after the end-Permian mass extinctions…” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/12/101222093204.htm)
“This is a message of hope”, the first preacher continues, “global warming is not the end of the earth. The power and resolve in nature can and will absorb the foolish, fickle, and infantile doodles of the human race at its worst. Millions of years ago the earth was renewed after a cataclysmic series of disasters. Nature survived and was ‘recreated’. The question is will the human race survive? Or are we going to be fossilized footnotes in a hiccup of earth’s grand post-history? Global warming is already happening and it will become a series of massive disasters. What is at stake is our extinction… the crippling of our ability to sustain human life. Nature will move on to the next chapter and there will be restabilization of ecosystems. The question is: are we going to be around as a species? Or are we going to be the new ‘dinosaurs’?” (The first preacher steps aside and the second comes forward to speak)
“ScienceDaily (Oct. 2, 2008) — The shorelines of ancient Alberta, British Columbia and the Canadian Arctic were an important refuge for some of the world’s earliest animals, most of which were wiped out by a mysterious global extinction event some 252 million years ago. U of C scientists have solved part of the mystery of where marine organisms that recovered from the biggest extinction on earth were housed… the shorelines of ancient Canada provided a refuge for marine organisms that escaped annihilation during the Permian-Triassic extinction event… ‘the end of the Permian and beginning of the Triassic period saw unparalleled species loss in the marine realm… biotic recovery was delayed relative to other mass extinction(s)…’ says a paper published in the October edition of Geology. A major unresolved question has been discovering where the marine organisms that recovered from the extinction were housed… but (this) is the only area discovered to date… During the mass extinction, about 95 per cent of all marine species and 70 per cent of land species died and the recovery of life on Earth took longer than other extinction events because so much biodiversity was lost. There are several theories as to why this mass extinction event took place… The authors favor major climate change since increased temperatures and elevated CO2levels are linked to oxygen stress that is key to the results of their research. The inter-university research team studied trace fossils along the ancient shorelines found in rock located in western Alberta, northeast British Columbia, and the barren landscapes of the Canadian Arctic. These trace fossils present a record of ocean-bottom dwelling organisms and indicate locally well-oxygenated conditions in an ocean otherwise characterized by widespread anoxia… within this habitable zone… extinction levels are reduced and the recovery time is minimized. The findings support the idea that reduced oxygen levels is a major cause of why the recovery from Earth’s greatest extinction was delayed.” (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081001093616.htm)
The second preacher concludes, “the inevitable disasters of global warming are not the end of life on earth. The real question is if global warming will be the end of human life as we know it. It doesn’t have to be. The revelation is this: if we create and design a particular environment… if we commit ourselves to a particular lifestyle… we will survive. We can recover and be restored. We have to live and preach a ‘green theology’ as an earth congregation. Our sanctuary can be retrofitted. It can be redesigned and recreated to house more oxygen… enough to allow us to survive… to rise again. We have the capacity… we can develop the technology… we can pursue the spirituality and the value system. But this is a commitment we must all make. Or else there will only be tiny insignificant remnant survivors just like in earth geological catasrophes past. They will be the ones who take this theology seriously.”
The preachers are done. The sermons have been preached. Everyone files out of the meeting place. You wonder: how much of this really sinks in. Well at least there is one group of the earth congregation that gets it. They are the ones that might hold the key… they are the “sustainability” crowd. Live long and prosper.
“We know that all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.” (Romans 8:22 )
[NOTE: Significant material in this article are from two reports in the Science Daily. They have been edited extensively for the purposes of this work. For the original unedited version of these reports please go the url address posted at the end of the edited paragraphs in this article.]