Part One The World
Quote from Walden by H. D. Thoreau (a part of which is given below):
'...I should be glad if the meadows on the earth were left in a wild state, if that were the consequence of men's beginning to redeem themselves. ...'
Chapter I Looking Out My Window
The narrative starts by setting a mood defined by the window's view. The reader joins the author to watch the forest and its creatures while thinking about questions concerning world events, personal being, and the future. The view outside begs us to escape within the surrounding greenery, but at the same time the narrator asks: 'Should the news of troubles elsewhere concern me as I sit here in solitude?' The view next introduces two characters, the Good Steward and the Exploiter, who present contrasting views concerning stewardship and the world's future. These two appear later, not as debaters but as central characters in the book's conclusion. Meanwhile the narrator considers the life and times of Henry David Thoreau. A reference to Mr. Thoreau introduces a way to look at change over recent timeover the span of several generations. The previous quote (above), from Walden, considers humanity's redemption in terms of the Earth's environment. This theme echoes through the following chapters and again at the book's end.
The first chapter ends with:
'I ask you to first walk through my woods and then sit at this window. As the pages turn the view will change from global change, to a Universe that provides a wondrous stage for life on Earth, to a pre-defined history found in the Scriptures, and finally to a unification of these scenes into one universal perspective.'
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Chapter II A Walk In The Woods
This chapter first provides illustrations of environmental connections as presented by an elder botanist. His lessons teach us relationships in one's own locality extend throughout nature and the world. Yet, life itself depends on a remarkably thin organic layer resting on the rocky surface of our lone planet home. Next, the narrator examines change as we walk through the local woodland. There is little purpose in discussing global changes, which come next, unless the reader relates to change on an immediate personal level. Later, back the window, we are ready to contrast local and global changes.
Chapter III Change In The Window
This chapter opens with:
'My focus on the trees and woodland creatures now drifts to recollections of recent symposia on climate and global changes. Opinions expressed there suggest foreboding signs of incredible change in our lifetime.'
The primary goal here is to orient the reader to change in terms of human activity. Quotes from the scientific community provide credibility and realism to the change topics presented in Part One. This further defines driving forces which assure change into the futureand this theme returns to contribute to Part Four's final development. This and the following two chapters illustrate three facets of global changethe first is climate change.
Chapter IV Global Change
The view turns to changes in the social, political, and economic spheres of human activity. Some statistics are included showing the magnitude of difference between the rich and poor, and materialism is a key component displayed in present human behavior. Although not apparent to the reader at this point, this presentation prepares us for a parallel discussion on biblical prophecy and changepresented in Part Four (Chapters XX, XXII, and XXIII). The approach, overall, is a competent, non-sensational, narrative for a general audience. A secular view, throughout this chapter, paints a picture of forces locking humanity into a perplexing scenario offering few signs of present or future-oriented improvement.
Chapter V Resource Change
Every resource described here constitutes a natural inheritance which humanity has used or abused throughout history.
'Earth's riches (oil, land, water, wildlife, etc.) provide seeds for exploitation and human conflict. Here, I examine connections between humanity's routine and consequences altering Earth's ecological balance. This chapter describes changes in natural, mostly non-renewable, resources. Remember, human activity at the tip of the environmental pyramid penetrates every sector of the planet's biosphere.'
The general conclusion, stepping from section to section, is that the world's resources are in a state of gradual decline. Every component of the resource picture, points to our planet's limited ability to support all life formsi.e. carrying-capacity. Human activity continually tips the carrying-capacity in its favor, raising the prospect that a future imbalance brings rapid world-wide loss in biodiversity, natural resources, agriculture, and elsewhere.
Agriculture, energy, and other topics presented here provide the basis for a discussion of prophetic environmental types presented in Chapter XXII.
Earth's Population Density
Chapter VI Convergence
In an era of obvious global change, humans study Earth's systems only to discover numerous uncertainties. The potential for ecological imbalance threatens to lower carrying-capacity and threatens to collapse biological populations. The reader is informed that humanity clearly faces a potential crisis. As stated at one scientific meeting, there seems to be several key questions, including: a) What kind of world do we have?, b) What kind of world to we want?, and c) What must we do to get there?
'A key point here is the emphasis on WE. We have, we want, we must do are totally anthropocentric. The WE, as shown later, gets us in trouble!'
In this framework the stage is set to examine future environmental challenges which lead the reader to discover that 'we' may not be able to save us! And who does the saving is answered in terms of science and Scripture, later, in Part Four.
next to PART II