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Limited energy supply and impending higher fuel prices have emerged as early tests of George W. Bush's leadership. His proposal to increase energy supplies by extracting oil from the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge has angered many who want to preserve this beautiful natural area. These plans and Bush's withdrawal of U.S. support for the Kyoto Accord, which would limit emissions of greenhouse gases, don't surprise environmentalists, who opposed his election because of what they consider his disregard for the environment. Indeed, political or economic conservatives generally have difficulty gaining the confidence and support of environmentalists, even if conservatives propose resource extraction in an "environmentally friendly manner."

Many moral conservatives believe the philosophies of free market and limited government have a biblical basis. At the same time, these philosophies have led many industries to act irresponsibly, resulting in unnecessary destruction of landscapes, habitats, water, and air. The problem, however, is not conservative politics and economics per se. Rather, the problem is the conservatives' failure to articulate and implement an environmental ethic that controls human behavior.

Moral conservatives are successfully articulating a biblical worldview regarding sexual abstinence before marriage, sanctity of life, and the importance of moral teaching in our schools. Consistent with this, they must also articulate the case for a compassionate conservationism, an environmental ethic rooted in a biblical worldview. Such an ethic would redefine environmentalists as those who are concerned about the environment of all of life. Thus they would care about the environment of the bald eagle chick, especially when ...

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June 11, 2001

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