Maj. V.I. Luke
Vice President, India Bible College and Seminary, Kumbanad
Nature and our environment are God’s gifts to us. When we care for our environment, we honor God, acknowledging His gifts to us with grateful hearts.
After he created Adam and Eve, God placed them in the Garden of Eden to care for the garden (Gen 2:15) as His stewards. Similarly, He has entrusted us as stewards of the environment He has created for us.
Ecology is the science of ecosystems. Ecological balance has been defined by various dictionaries as “a state of dynamic equilibrium within a community of organisms in which genetic, species and ecosystem diversity remain relatively stable, subject to gradual changes through natural succession.” Or simply, “A stable balance in the numbers of each species in an ecosystem.”
Planting trees and afforestation benefit the environment, something in which every citizen and especially Bible-believing Christians can engage because that pleases God.
On the other hand, such things as uncontrolled and ruthless felling of trees, air pollution by burning plastic wastes and discarding untreated effluents into the streams and rivers destroy environmental balance and destabilizes the ecosystem.
The Indian Army, the most disciplined of the three armed services, pays particular attention to afforestation of the cantonments in the country. As a result, all Army cantonments are typically neat and clean, with the flora and fauna in harmonious co-existence with each other.
Many Army units in the Territories have become known as ecological battalions. Their only job is to systematically plant saplings and other things to beautify the countryside. Such battalions are stationed in the Rajasthan Thar desert region alongside artificial canals. Their concerted hard work has transformed much of the desert into vast green belts.
It is hard to believe such lush greenery and cultivation could happen in the desert, once a barren and inhospitable wasteland. This great effort to transform the desert has produced favorable environmental changes over the years in places where not a single blade of grass once grew. Many parts of Rajasthan now experience rains like never before. This has significantly increased the flora and fauna in the Thar region of our country, helping them to co-exist in harmonious ecological balance. What we see in Rajasthan today would have been a pipe dream for Rajasthan’s maharajahs of long ago!
Understanding Ecological Balance. The Earth’s organisms interact with their environment in a delicately balanced cycle. Energy from the sun is used by plants which become food for other creatures. The cycle continues as plant and animal life forms die and are consumed by micro-organisms. This cycle of life is in jeopardy from humanity’s overuse of natural resources and damage to the ecosystem from pollution.
Poor Management of Natural Resources. The expansion of civilization inflicts growing burdens on the ecosystem. Minerals, fossil fuels and other natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate. Overfishing and habitat destruction cause a loss of biodiversity that will have long-term negative consequences on the ecosystem. Species needed to maintain a balanced ecology are threatened with extinction from overuse or destruction of their habitat. In marine ecosystems, the loss of just a few species can threaten an entire ecosystem. A concerted effort to use natural resources in a sustainable manner will help to protect and maintain ecological balance,
Population Control. In nature, predators prevent species from over-populating. Unfortunately, humans don’t have any natural predators to control their population. We must take action at the individual level and through government to control human population. We must address this problem despite emotional, cultural or religious sensitivities. Too many fish in an aquarium foul the water, and too many humans on the planet can upset the ecological balance.
Between 1927 and 1987, the Earth’s population increased to 5 billion. By 1999, the total population reached 6 billion, and an estimated 9 billion people will live on the Earth by 2050, according to an analysis by the University of Michigan. Controlling the birth rate through contraception and family planning will reduce the strain on the ecosystem by reducing the rate at which people consume natural resources.
Water Protection. Contamination from sewage and pollutants from manufactured fertilizer and chemical factories with runoff from agriculture treated by such fertilizers and chemicals threatens marine ecosystems. This threatens to damage the ecosystem as a whole. Taking steps to reduce or eliminate pollution from unauthorized sources such as sewage from streets and farms will help to maintain the ecological balance.
Sewage and pollution caused by agricultural fertilizer manufacturing can cause the rapid growth of algae in the vicinity and in nearby streams. The growth of algae blocks sunlight and depletes oxygen in the water. This reduces the amount of natural plant life in the marine ecosystem. Animals that feed on these plants die, which causes the death of animals that prey on them. The decaying algae promotes the growth of anaerobic organisms, which release compounds into the water toxic to marine animals.
What can we do? Protection of the ecological balance is in the interest of everybody. You and I can have a positive effect, no matter how small, in maintaining the delicate balance of the Earth’s ecosystem.
We should opt for recycled plastic bags, cloth bags & packaging materials which are biodegradable. This can help prevent the over-harvesting of natural resources.
We should conserve energy by choosing more energy-efficient appliances and automobiles. If everybody uses less energy, we help to reduce pollution, and we need less coal to power the nation and the world.
We should opt for car-pooling or the mass rapid transit system or just walk a mile to our work place in the cities instead of using our private cars.
We should encourage family and friends to become ecologically aware in their day-to-day lifestyles. Just as many hands make light work, many individuals working together can help protect and maintain the ecosystem.
Conserving energy must become a habit and second nature to our lifestyle.
At the IGO campus of India Bible College and Seminary, we are taking the following steps to conserve the environment:
Students are taught the rudiments of conserving energy by switching off unwanted electrical appliances including lights and fans.
We are in the process of switching to LED lights which consume less energy besides being more cost-effective in the long run, instead of using tube lights, CFLs or halogen lights.
Solar lights and water heating systems have been installed which help to conserve energy. Tapping renewable sources of energy for our day-to-day needs is one of the best means to maintain the ecological balance in our area.
We have installed a two kitchen waste plants (25 square meters and 6 square meters) that help to break down harmful wastes that pollute the environment. The waste products are turned into methane gas useful for cooking. The harmless treated soluble waste water that comes from the waste plants is used for gardening purposes, thereby helping in the fertigation/fertilization of campus plant life.
A rainwater-harvested reservoir has been artificially created in a 2-acre low-lying area within our 36-acre campus property. It has become an asset for the campus and a boon for about 150 homes in the vicinity of the school. Such a facility has helped to raise the ground water table over an area of almost four square kilometers.
This lake has helped to maintain a sound ecological balance in the area of the school, attracting several types of species, honey bees, migratory birds and water ducks for a good part of the year. According to Albert Einstein, if honey bees were to disappear from the earth, all human life would die within four years!
All the buildings constructed within the campus are designed to harvest rain. A well-planned drainage system comes from the buildings and leads to the artificial reservoir which has a capacity of over 3 million gallons.
We cannot yet calculate all the environmental dividends that the on-campus artificial reservoir has produced in terms of new flora and fauna in the area and the varieties of vegetables and fruits now produced within the campus.
An eco-friendly high-tech Poly House enclosed in an area of 400 square metres has been set up. We can now farm year round varieties of high-yielding organic vegetables, that is, those totally devoid of pesticides and insecticides. Such farming techniques guide us to optimum use of land, a drip-irrigation system and high-yield hybrid farming – all which contribute to ecological balance and a clean, healthy and pollution-free environment.
The IGO campus is also a plastic-free zone. Specific waste bins are provided at places around the campus to collect plastic wastes for re-cycling. We promote the use of renewable energy and encourage a litter-free and eco-friendly environment.
We encourage our residents-students, teachers and non-teaching staff-to plant saplings and plants and become involved in taking care of the gardens around the lake. To maintain a clean eco-friendly environment has become one of the hallmarks of the IGO campus.
Little drops make an ocean. Whatever you and I do to contribute to a healthy eco-friendly atmosphere will help to maintain and preserve the ecological balance where God has chosen us to live. We are His ambassadors on this earth, and others note what we do.
As believers in Christ, we must speak up and act for a healthy and eco-friendly environment. We must become ecological trend setters and trail blazers for His Name’s sake. Let us become good role models and examples for Christ!