In 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts read from the book of Genesis as they looked on earth from space: God said “‘Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.’ And it was so … And God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:9 NIV)
The following year, we walked on the moon. You probably remember the moment we heard the words one giant leap for mankind. We witnessed a miracle. Glued to our televisions we solemnly surveyed earth from 250,000 miles away. I was reminded of this on a recent flight across the Atlantic. Looking down from above the clouds I realised that we had actually been watching ourselves watching ourselves (the world’s first selfie)!
In 1969 there were only half the people in the world as there are now. Since then, the population has more than doubled, now standing at 7.7 billion. 1.5 billion people do not have enough food. A further 900 million do not have access to clean drinking water. One-third of the population lives on less than $2 a day. Another third is obese – not, as one would think, those in the richest and most developed countries.
Fifty years ago, there were only three mega-cities (ten million or more people) in the world. Today there are thirty. For various reasons, humans move around. 147,700 immigrants came to Canada in 1969. This year, 330,000 are expected. While the USA may be home to the world’s largest immigrant population, immigrants account for only 14% of the total population, a far smaller share than in many other developed nations.
Another change in the last 50 years is that our planet’s temperature is rising. We generally believe that is due to the increase in carbon dioxide and pollution. The Arctic is warming faster than anywhere else. Ice reflects the sun’s rays and keeps the earth cool. When glaciers melt, the ice below the surface heaves up and creates a giant tidal wave releasing ice into the ocean. Our sea levels are rising twice as fast as they did ten years ago.
For many generations nature was prolific and taken for granted, but in the last 50 years our wildlife population has declined by 50%. However, rainforests still teem with wildlife. There is such diversity that the species in tropical forests have not yet been catalogued.
Unintentionally, or carelessly, the human population is influencing the planet, causing it to be off-balance. By 2045 it is estimated that there will be nine billion people on earth. Some despair at these figures. Will we perhaps drown in a sea of plastic, be blown up in a nuclear explosion, or otherwise annihilate ourselves? The Bible states that God has a plan. He is still in control. There were will be a new heaven and a new earth: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared.” (Revelation 21:1 NLT). The prophet Zechariah tells us: “On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem. And the Mount of Olives will split apart, making a wide valley running from east to west.” (Zechariah 14:4 NLT).
Now that’s one giant leap, for mankind!
Prayer: Father, What a wonderful world you have given us! Help us to be good stewards of all your creation. And help us to be ready for your return. Amen.