To many Quakers, the Earth is God’s creation, and as human beings we have no entitlement to defile it or exhaust it. Indeed, we have a responsibility to nurture and protect it.
Allied to the Testimony of Simplicity, Quakers also recognise the importance of the natural environment and the Earth, the planet that is our home. Sometimes with the greatest of intentions, and sometimes with the basest, human endeavour has plundered the Earth’s resources of which we are at best only stewards. Despite title deeds that suggest otherwise, the Earth does not really belong to anyone. Western economies (such as Europe, North America and Japan) in particular, but increasingly in the more prosperous economically-developing countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, are consuming the Earth’s resources at a rate that cannot be sustained. Forests, farm-land, fresh water and minerals are all being devoured at a rate that far outstrips the Earth’s capacity to renew and replenish itself. Few, if any, Quakers are opposed to the onward march of technology. However, many Quakers would prefer that humankind found ways to live in greater harmony with the natural world.
Human endeavour has also polluted the planet, caused lasting damage to its seas and its atmosphere, and ravaged the habitats of animals and plants. During our own lifetimes, the Earth’s climate has become progressively more unstable, and sea levels are slowly rising to swamp and inundate low-lying coasts. Rainforests, that renew the atmosphere, have been cut back to provide farmland on which to graze animals for the fast-food industries around the world. These problems do not belong to one country alone, and need to be seen as global issues.
To many Quakers, the Earth is God’s creation, and as human beings we have no entitlement to defile it or exhaust it. Indeed, we have a responsibility to nurture and protect it. In keeping with the respect for ‘faith in action’, one Quaker project involved supporting local people planting trees in sub-Saharan Africa. Another project, supported by Canterbury Friends, is the provision of improved sanitation for people in parts of the economically-developing world (linking this testimony to that regarding justice), and a photograph of a ‘twinned toilet’ can be seen in the Meeting House, underlining the importance of ‘faith in action’.