When I camped as a teenager, we practiced low impact camping. The rule of thumb: leave the place in better shape than when you got there. It stood as law, not principle. It often meant packing out more trash then planned, or more work than anticipated. At the same time, we would cringe at being called an environmentalist. The Bible taught conservation.
Conservation as respecting life
Nature inspires life and breeds respect. I enjoyed the wild and nature in the raw. Taking care of such places was a mater of respect. This respect also demonstrated itself in making sure we were properly equipped for our trek. (I NEVER camped in perfectly dry weather. Nature breathes humor and drama.) Investing time and learning about nature breeds respect, and I wonder if that is why Jesus invest much time in the wilderness. This respect revolves around God placing man to take care of things. The oldest professions are science & gardening.
Conservation as common sense
I don’t know if I would label my grandparents as conservationists, but they were inventive. They did not waste anything. They had a well, and were careful with it. Trash cans were setup to collect rain water off the roof for their gardens and flowers. Used jugs were kept to store and carry rain water. Much of what I saw as a kid was using things up as much as possible. They would often share stories about the depression and using seeming junk for creating adventures. (Or in lieu there of, practical jokes. Grandma could have earned an honorary doctorate.) Common sense was king.
Conservation as problem solving not problem creating
Conservationists solve problems while environmentalists create bigger ones. As a teenager I defined environmentalists as someone who says there is a problem and the creates a solution to the problem that becomes a bigger problem then the problem in the first place. Because I disagree with environmentalists does not mean I stand against the environment. Nor do I see a conservationist as a moderate environmentalist.
I sense the environmentalist movement as acting like an overbearing & overprotective parent. I see conservationists as a parent who teaches principles like respect & common sense that will serve the child well. The first creates bigger problems and solves little, the second creates an environment for solutions. The first produces guilt and worry, the second inspiration and confidence. The first may work in a very short period, the second pushes the envelop of the human experience. The first breeds misery, the second joy.
The Bottom line:
There is a need for a proactive (not reactive) “green” movement founded on respect & commonsense. I feel as though the Christian experience should consider how to act and live in the world God gave us. True, the Bible says it will burn up, but I don’t think that means we can be careless with the planet. Such is not wise. God places a premium on wisdom. I wonder what such a movement would look like?