With the oceans no longer teeming with life, scientists and missionaries alike challenge Christians to faithfulness in the face of daunting odds.
Last month, the United Nations released a sobering report about the state of the earth’s oceans. The 1,200-page document, issued by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), reported warming water temperatures and sharp declines in fish populations and warned that ocean levels could rise up to three feet by the end of the century.
That’s in stark contrast to early history as accounted in the Bible, pointed out Bob Sluka, the lead scientist of A Rocha’s Marine and Coastal Conservation Program. “Genesis 1 talks about the oceans teeming with life in abundance,” he said. “The only place these days to really see that is in marine protected areas.”
The report is a first for oceans and a wake-up call, said Kyle Van Houtan, chief scientist at the internationally-acclaimed Monterey Bay Aquarium in California. “What this report says, at the highest level, is that the ocean has been buffering the impacts of climate change for decades, and that buffering has a limit,” Van Houtan said. “Even though it has an immense ability to absorb and buffer heat and carbon from us, our industries, and our activities, it cannot do that indefinitely.”
Van Houtan, who studied theology at Duke Divinity School while getting his doctorate in ecology, first felt called to help steward creation because of his grandfather, a farmer whose faith exemplified a love for Christ and for creation. “There was a deep reverence for his role as a steward of the land and the animals.”
In contrast, since the Industrial Revolution, human activity has directly contributed to the devastation of ocean health. Van Houtan said the long-term effects of the ocean’s lessened capacity could …