Inspired and informed by our two distinct wisdom traditions, we are led by a shared goal: the healing of our planet. We write together as a scientist and a pastor seeing our earth suffering from multiple perspectives. We can see that our health is deeply intertwined with the health of our earth. We recognize our shared belonging and connection to the land and water, be it through our understanding of ecology or our interpretation of theology. Science and religion both motivate us to create sanctuaries: places of safety for people, animals, and all of life. That’s why we’re writing together, as a scientist and pastor, in support of California’s newly released 30x30 Conservation Plan and the proposed Chumash National Marine Sanctuary.
The 30x30 plan is a global initiative to protect 30% of the earth by 2030. Currently, 15% of the earth is already protected and the 30x30 initiative aims to expand this protection. In order for the State to work towards meeting these goals, California will work closely with indigenous communities, fishers, farmers, and local community members to conserve, and coexist within, these sacred land and waters. This work of healing the earth demands collaboration between countries, cultures, religions, and occupations. The final 30x30 pathways strategy provides a stronger definition of conservation, highlights the importance of biodiversity, and emphasizes the need for equitable, inclusive ocean access. The strategy is a great start, and we pray that California will back up its ambition with action.
As a pastor, I (Rev. Daniel Paul) see the care and preservation of our natural spaces as a call to action from our Creator. I understand our earth to be inherently valuable, beyond resources and recreation. Out of my window at The Christian Church of Pacific Grove, I can experience the beauty of creation in the diverse plant and animal life that blesses Monterey Bay. We have a moral and a spiritual duty as stewards of God’s creation to protect the habitat for these creatures.
As a scientist, I (Pat Rutowski) support the 30x30 initiative as a way forward in this time of environmental degradation. From biodiversity loss to ocean acidification, we are in need of a plan to tackle California’s most pressing ecological issues. The implementation of highly and fully protected marine areas is necessary to protect our oceans from extraction—a qualification outlined in the final 30x30 pathways document. Stronger, more complete regulations are needed within our marine sanctuaries to protect these environments. Additional protections for our marine life are vital to the health of our ocean. For example, the proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary will be the first tribal-led marine protected area, and will prohibit oil drilling, encourage habitat restoration, and with additional protections for biodiversity, can support recovering wildlife populations. Its proposed boundaries will protect the gap on the California coastline between the Monterey Bay and Channel Island Marine Sanctuaries – a necessity in controlling drilling and other sources of pollution and habitat destruction that are not limited to one body of water.
The California coast is endlessly valuable, both intrinsically and because of all that it provides for us. As members of a faith community, the coastline serves as a spiritual sanctuary. As scientists, we value the importance of our diverse ocean ecosystems. Marine Sanctuaries throughout the United States bring these different users and communities together to help protect the use of these marine resources for all people, expanding access to public lands and waters for disadvantaged communities while we expand protections.
Through collaboration with California locals, scientists, faith leaders, and indigenous communities, we can approach environmental conservation through an array of perspectives. With a shared desire to protect the ocean, we can take action to care for our ocean while connecting people to our coastal environment. Together, we strive to uplift conservation efforts and delve into action with our minds, bodies, and spirits. Motivated by a theology of creation care and a commitment to furthering our scientific understanding of the natural world, we support the 30x30 initiative and look forward to a strong implementation to achieve its goals. May we work together to create sanctuaries where life abounds.
Co-Authors: Pat Rutowski (Marine Biologist) and Rev. Dan Paul (Christian Church of Pacific Grove)
By Gabrielle Poli (CJM's Blue Theology Fellow/CCPG Member)
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About this Blog
This blog shares the activities of Creation Justice Ministries. We educate and equip Christians to protect, restore, and rightly share God's creation.