I want to thank Patricia Milley who, in a recent letter to the editor, “Offshore drilling: Because no one knows when Jesus will return, take care of Earth,” interjected theology into the ecological debate about whether or not drilling for oil off South Carolina is a good thing.
She correctly pointed out that our having dominion over creation does not mean abusing creation but rather being a partner with the Creator in sustaining creation. Sustainability is the ongoing capacity of natural and social systems to thrive together. This requires human beings to practice wise, humble, responsible stewardship after the model of servanthood.
In my theological understanding, God created the world to exist in a condition of shalom (peace). The closest we can get to that concept in English is wholeness. God created the world, human beings, nature to live in harmony, well being, wholeness.
But something happened and we find ourselves in a broken world. One way of talking about the call of believers is that we are to point to and become part of the peace giving (wholeness giving ) of God.
One reason I'm opposed to drilling off South Carolina is that in all likelihood it will lead to more brokenness in creation. Seismic testing, oil drilling and production will lead to disrupting, even killing, animal life. Each species is part of an inter-related ecosystem that is worldwide.
For example, birds flying from South America to Alaska to breed stop on the coast of South Carolina to rest and fill up on Horseshoe Crab eggs. What happens to the birds when their food source is taken away? Indeed, what happens to the ocean itself and all the creatures who depend upon it when toxic crude oil begins to flow into it?
All it takes is one spill like the Deep Water Horizon.
And what about us? We use 20 percent of the world's fossil fuel. We have 30 percent of the world's fossil fuel. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that even if we drill everywhere, someday we will run out of oil. Talk about out dependency.
Though I'm not a rocket scientist, I did graduate from Georgia Tech. I've followed the advancement in renewable energy technology. Within the decade, there will be affordable energy from renewable sources like solar and wind available to everyone. Jobs that are just being invented will employee thousands of folks here in South Carolina.
In fact, South Carolina could be the center for clean, green energy as fields that once nurtured tobacco will be covered with solar panels.
And we will be a bit closer to a whole creation.
The writer lives in Pawleys Island.