Addresses marine pollution of all kinds and the protection of coastal ecosystems, because oceans provide food, medicines and jobs for millions of people.
Around 8 million tonnes of plastic enter the ocean from land every year. Plastic bottles are the most common, causing widespread devastation across our oceans. Psalm 24 shares how God founded the earth on ‘the seas and established it on the waters.’ The ocean is part of Gods amazing creation and we need to know how to care for it better.
Climate Change 101 with Bill Nye by National Geographic
+ THEOLOGICAL REFLECTION
The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters. Psalm 24:1-2
At first sight, Goal 14 seems a little niche, and it would appear unlikely that we might be able to reflect too deeply on a specifically Christian response. Is there such a thing as a theology of fish? It turns out that there is much to say that ought to encourage us to think a little more about the water that covers two thirds of our planet, and the life that it sustains.
The Genesis creation story gives a prominence to water, and concludes, of course, with the oceans ‘teeming with living creatures’ (Gen.1:20). Later on the seas seem to command a mysterious, almost mystical, awe, and no little fear. The ancient Jewish people were not sea farers and the oceans beyond their shores came to be known as a place of wickedness and evil, of ‘Leviathan’ (Job 41 & Psalm 74:13-14) and death. So, when Jesus comes and it is said of him, ‘Even the winds and waves obey him’ (Matthew 8:27) it was clearly a significant thing. And then there is the place of the sea in the final Revelation! (Revelation 20:13 & 21:1) I think many of us, when we have stood on a shore and looked out onto a vast ocean, can tap into something of this elemental, even primal, dangerous wonder. Recognising the beauty, but recognising too the power of the untameable.
The significance then of seas and oceans is undeniable and when they are damaged, in terms of sea-level, ph balance, temperature or pollution, the bio-diversity they enable is fundamentally harmed. Coral reefs too, an example of God’s most exquisite handiwork, are under threat, 90% of them by 2030 on current projections, that is worse to going on a vandalism spree at the National Gallery! The human consequences are very real as well, not least for the 37% of the global population who live in coastal communities. Bringing these threads together we can see that marine conservation is important, and important for Christians who are, as we have seen, necessarily concerned for the protection of the environment as a whole. Goal 14 has targets relating to marine pollution, coastal ecosystems, over-fishing and the specific protection of those island communities in real danger from rising sea levels. It is an agenda that any who have ever been moved by ‘his wonderful deeds in the deep’ (Psalm 107:24) ought to be prepared to take up enthusiastically.
+ DISCUSSION POINTS
- When was your last visit to the ocean and what did you see that was beautiful?
- The reflection gave a brief Biblical overview of the significance of the sea. Did that surprise you? Which parts of it have you perhaps not considered before?
- What do you believe are the greatest threats to our marine environment?
- What could be done to help in this regard?
+ GOAL 14 IN ACTION
A Rocha is a family of Christian conservation organisations working around the world. They contribute to Goal 14 through their Marine and Coastal Conservation Programme.
The goal of this programme is to participate in the transformation of the ocean and the people who use it, so that the ocean becomes a place that teems with life, fruitfulness and sustainability for all. Science and theology drive their conservation, education and advocacy efforts. Their holistic projects take into account a scientific understanding of marine conservation as well as the local community’s worldview in order to draw attention to biodiversity, livelihoods, and spirituality. They particularly contribute to the subcomponents of Goal 14 on marine protected areas, plastic pollution, marine biodiversity, climate change and fisheries.
+ WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
Personal – Stop buying single use plastic water bottles – purchase a good one and use tap water.
Local – Make sure your church is recycling. If you live by the sea, join a beach clean up.
International – Advocate for micro plastics bans in all items.