God’s Gifts To Us

The greatest gift of God is that of his son who gave his life to ransom ours but there are many other gifts God gives us, this world, the people he puts in our lives, the lessons we learn, the tasks that we’re given, all of these things are gifts.

I regret that I did not see things this way in my younger years, did not see my wife as the gift from God that she is, or my friends, or parents, or pretty much anything of value that God put in my life.

That’s not the way I see things anymore, but one thing hasn’t changed and that’s my sense that we, humanity, are throwing away a gift of God and that’s this planet he has entrusted to us while we are here.

It’s true the Bible does say that God will make a new Earth, and it does say that man is to have dominion over the other animals.  But it doesn’t say when, and it does say we can’t know the time, only the season, so it may not happen in our life.  And also having dominion over animals does not lesson their value, they are still a gift of God and destroying them or the habitat God created for them is akin to throwing that gift back in God’s face, it is wrong.  The fact that God will create a new perfect world, one that is not subject to decay, stained by sin, does not take away the value of this world that we are in now.

I find myself in a strange place politically, because I can neither align myself with the republican conservatives who say it’s okay to destroy any non-human life, greed is good, etc.  Neither can I align myself with democratic liberals who say it’s a woman’s right to take a life if it’s dependent upon her body.  If we were to add up body counts, I’m not really sure if more people have been lost to abortion or war, but I don’t like either, I feel life is too valuable to throw away, all life.

I am not happy with what we are doing to this planet, what we are doing is not sustainable, but I think people are foolish if they think they can force God’s hand to create a new planet sooner by destroying our existing planet.

It does now appear with fracking technology that we won’t be running out of hydrocarbons for some time, at least twenty years, maybe a hundred.  That’s unfortunate because fracking technology hasn’t increased the amount of atmosphere or the ability to sink carbon dioxide one bit.  I was hoping this was a problem that was going to take care of itself by hydrocarbons simply becoming scarce enough that burning them was no longer a viable option but clearly that’s not going to happen in my lifetime.

So now if anything positive is going to happen with respect to our environment, it’s going to have to be by choice, our choice.

There are clean options, such as hydrogen fusion, that could be made operational much sooner if only we were willing to take even a small percentage of the resources we squander on war, and put it into research.  This technology has gone from being a scientific problem to an engineering problem, and the engineering problems appear solvable but it takes time to test materials and configurations to find those that are optimal.

Even though the capital expenses of hydrogen fusion are large, once built the fuel is for all practical purposes free.

There are many other options that we’re not developing, that we really should.  Wind and solar are variable but Germany has proven that they can make a much larger contribution to the electrical grid than they presently are here.

Converting long distance power transmission lines from AC to DC would cut transmission losses, eliminate electromagnetic radiation from those lines, eliminate susceptibility to solar flares and other space weather, allow interfacing of grids of different frequency and phase, eliminate cascading failures, and make practical the transmission of electrical power over much longer distances thus allowing the variations in solar and wind output to be averaged over a much greater area, allowing them to make larger contributions to the grid.

For base load power there is an ample supply of geothermal in the United States.  There is in fact enough geothermal resources to meet ALL of our electrical needs if we choose to exploit them, and exploiting them heavily in Yellowstone might just delay or prevent a super-eruption that would destroy most of the continental United States.  Yes, we might sacrifice old faithful, but I think given the prospect of another super-eruption that might not be a bad sacrifice.

When I was younger, I often had these dreams of being on an Earth where the air was pristine, the water in lakes crystal clear, not clogged up with algae from all the run-off and waste we discharge into rivers and streams, and I think those dreams were of the new Earth, but it also seems to me, we could have that here on our own planet if only we chose to take action to use sustainable energy sources, to use organic farming and more sustainable farming where proper crop rotations are done, drip irrigation is used so that nutrients weren’t leached out of the soil into rivers, streams, and lakes, and ultimately the ocean, and ground water wasn’t depleted faster than nature can replenish it.

Nuclear I’ve got mixed feelings about.  I think it has the technical capacity to be a clean energy source, one that doesn’t threaten melt-downs and massive contamination and one that doesn’t produce 100,000 year radioactive waste, but I think greed and politics will prevent that from being realized.  Such a system would require inherently safe designs, that is reactor designs that no active components need to function in order not to melt down or leak.  Such designs exist, but whether they could be built economically is doubtful.  The other thing that is needed are fast-flux designs that can consume transuranic long term waste and turn them into short-term fission products that only require short-term storage to decay and not 100,000 years.  Again, such designs exist, but economic feasibility is the issue.  Since the nuclear industry, like all industries, is driven by the profit motive, I am skeptical that a safe, sustainable, and environmentally friendly nuclear industry is possible.  I also don’t really think it’s necessary here on Earth, though might well have applications in space, should we decide to colonize other planets, particularly since those available to us would be farther from the Sun and lack geothermal activity.

God told us to be fruitful and multiple, but multiplying beyond the point where we can feed ourselves without destroying our environment is not fruitful, it’s suicidal, but that appears to be where we are heading at present.

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