Recently, I watched Chasing Coral on Netflix. It’s a 2017 documentary about the magical underwater world. At first, I was dazzled by the imagery of pink, magenta and orange coral reefs. I was reminded of the time when I snorkelled in the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, and the clear waters of Papua New Guinea. My heart warmed at the thought of drifting through the waters, lost in the wonder of these majestic reefs.
But a sobering message rang out: coral reefs are bleaching and dying. What were once vibrant homes for schools of fishes were losing their colours, fading to bone white, then rotting into sludge. This has been reported all over the world — sightings of coral bleaching at alarming rates. Reefs are dying because most of the heat generated by the burning of fossil fuels has been absorbed by the ocean, causing ocean temperatures to rise by two degrees. I found myself in tears, protesting, “Nooooo!!” as the imagery showed healthy, beautiful reefs vanishing into coral graveyards within a year.
Why should we care? Is it because coral reefs are vital in maintaining the ocean’s health, and without a healthy ocean, we don’t have a healthy planet? Is it because over a billion people depend on coral reefs for food and income from fishing and tourism? Or is it because we’re God’s stewards, appointed to take care of our Master’s creation, and in doing so, we honour God and bring Him delight?
Through Genesis 1–2, God reveals Himself as the Creator, creating the heavens, earth, and seas, and all the vegetation and living creatures. God blessed His creation, and after creating humankind in His own image to rule over His creation, God saw everything that He had made and judged it to be very good.
Then God brought Adam to the Garden of Eden to “work it and take care of it” (Gen 2:15). Another translation from the Hebrew text can mean to “serve it and to preserve it”. It’s important to note that Adam (representing humankind) wasn’t the owner, but a steward entrusted with the joyful responsibility of managing and nurturing God’s creation. One day, humankind (that’s us!) will have to give an account to God regarding how we’ve managed the things entrusted to us — relationships, time, finances, souls, and also this earth we live in. Would we be found to have taken His things for granted or even exploited them? Or would we be found faithful in our stewardship of God’s resources?
God loves all of His creation. It’s not us or the environment. It’s us and the environment. We’ve been created by the same Creator to glorify Him. Psalm 148 bears beautiful witness to how both nature and man are called to praise God together! Even though God’s creation is suffering because of humankind’s sin, one day, creation itself will be set free from slavery to decay and brought into the glory of God’s children (Rom 8:21).
I may not be a marine biologist or an environmental advocate, but I can do my part in caring for God’s handiwork, including the coral reefs. Plastics often end up as ocean debris, destroying habitats and killing thousands of marine animals each year. Hence, I’m choosing to use fewer plastic products. I carry a stainless-steel water bottle, bring my tingkat to pack meals from the food court, and carry my reusable bag when I go shopping. Last year, I braved the switch to Hannahpads (a brand of washable sanitary cloth pads) so as to help keep thousands of plastic-based disposable pads out of landfills. This does mean more effort and less convenience. But we want to care for this world, because it belongs to our Creator who’s entrusted us with it. We should not let God’s creation perish. Not on our watch.