John C. Rankin
Ecology is a branch of biology that deals with relationships between living things and their environment. And unless shalom permeates our ecological stewardship, then we inflict damage to the very ecosphere in which we breathe, eat, drink and build civilization. In Genesis 1-2, man and woman are made in the image of God and given the commission to rule the creation (Genesis 1:26-28). It is predicated on the very structure of all of Genesis 1 where God establishes an ecological order from the simplest organisms to the highest forms of animal life, and then to the uniqueness of man and woman as the crown of his creation.
In Genesis 2:15, Adam is commissioned to work and take care of the garden. The Garden of Eden includes a vast area, but too, this is the starting point for Adam and Eve caring for the whole earth and its ecosphere that sustains their lives. They are stewards. No possible toxic pollutions are in view. The whole ecology is all meant to sustain us, and thus, for us to take care of it (the very nature of the Garden of Eden). Only with the brokenness of sin does the despoiling of the environment come into existence. Thus, we who are believers in Jesus the Redeemer, by nature should be the best stewards of the good creation.
Since the Bible defines the human body, the planet and ecosphere as good, such environment stewardship, and its work including necessary scientific study, is also good. It proves that the United States and other western nations excel in repairing our environment better than all other polities. This is due to the (still remaining though weakening) influence across the centuries of biblical assumptions.
On the other hand, nations rooted in pagan or secular assumptions do not have such an understanding, and thus live in far more polluted environments. The biblical provision of religious, political and economic liberties (a subcategory of unalienable rights given by the Creator) proves to be the engine for the ability to do good environmental science. And too, it proves that the forty-two branches of modern science are founded within the Christian worldview, rooted in the prior Hebrew realities.
Yet, there is a caveat. Within environmental science today, as it grows increasingly secular and pagan, human beings become increasingly slaves to the worship of the creation instead of worshiping the Creator. For example, much money and political energy is spent on theories concerning climate change as a (largely) future concern. Yet at the same time, the priority of addressing dirty water in second and third world countries (the most dangerous pollution), and dirty air likewise, is mitigated, even though large numbers of people die daily.
China and India (largely), with admixtures of third, second and first world realities, do not have any historical/cultural rootedness in the biblical order of creation. Thus, apart from water concerns, they are increasingly choking on dirty air from unchecked polluting industries and very fast urbanization, and with their political economies so dependent on these industries and growth, cataclysms are coming all too soon. This crisis has been brewing for decades and will take more decades to reverse, assuming even a modicum on honest government, apart from massive turnings to Jesus.