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Friday, August 10, 2012

The Case for Green as Biblical

There is a strong case for a narrative that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob's wanderings were driven by climate change and man created land degradation caused partly by overgrazing and poor agricultural practices. Why did Abram feel the calling to leave "Ur of the Chaldees?" Because, the evidence shows that vast tracks of farmland were salted by poor irrigation practices. The land was first abandoned to grain growing, and then turned into full desert by overgrazing. The legend of Gilgamesh recounts the felling of vast forests in what is now Syria and Turkey.

Jacob goes to Aram, where those forests once were. He prospers on raising goats and sheep. Why did he leave? Evidence shows repeated cycles of deforestation and abandonment in that part of the world, including Greece. Mostly caused by overgrazing and/or poor farming practices.

Jacob returns to Israel because the land had recovered from a drought. He's driven to Egypt, because the drought returned and his kin were not going to let him back in what is now Syria. And Joseph's 7 good years, and 7 bad years nearly exactly track El Nino. Again, the Government is able to enslave people because of repeated cycles of drought; some of which were exacerbated by overgrazing, poor water conservation, and bad land allocation.

The Hebrews were Apiru, homeless herdsmen wandering the borderlands and they were able to transform themselves into Ibri because the original people of Canaan were decimated by disease, drought, warfare, and economic collapse. Folks like to preach the blood thirsty interpretation of their settling of the "promised land" but when the bible says "God will fight for you" the archeological record shows plague and starvation depopulating entire nations.

So there is a "green" interpretation to the events of the bible and a strong case to be made for the intended role of man as a steward of the environment, intended to treat the world as a Garden of life to be tended as well as used by him, and tended responsibly. We need more work-sweat and less arrogant blasphemy.

1 comment:

  1. The connection between the legend of Gilgamesh and the archeological record is intriguing. Gilgamesh has a flood story, too. It seems the flood in Genesis was an adornment for the Hebrew saga that they plucked from an older tradition.

    It isn't that "Folks like to preach the blood thirsty interpretation..." - reading the bible, not with any particular interpretation other than taking it literally, gives a blood thirsty story, recurring massacres ostensibly in fulfulment of God's wishes. The overgrazing you speak of gives more plausible explanations for the migrations and land theft over the explanation offered in the bible, that God directed these actions. Seems that, if you take the Bible as a source of guidance, God would have had oversight on the formidable problems of overgrazing without cluing his favorites in to their role in causing degradation.