The governor of Colorado was recently asked to recall the worst case of waste he had seen in the past year. “That’s easy,” he said. “It was one day last July, with the outside temperature at ninety-six degrees. The state building in Denver had the air conditioning on so cold that one of the secretaries had a heater plugged in alongside her desk.”

The United States is the world leader in waste. With 6 per cent of the world population, it uses 30 per cent of the world’s energy. A report in the Washington Post that quoted the Colorado governor also noted that the disparity has not changed a single percentage point since the beginning of the energy crisis. The energy wasted by 205 million Americans is said to equal the energy used by 105 million Japanese. Canada, with an affluence comparable to that of the United States, also has a very high rate of energy consumption.

That is not to say that only North Americans are guilty of enormous waste. Neither does it say that energy is the only waste problem. But North Americans with their abundance of education and communications resources should certainly be more conscious of the evils of waste, and their technology enables them to practice conservation much more effectively than is possible elsewhere.

We think of waste as a dripping faucet, or lights left on unnecessarily, or leftover food that is thrown away. Our attention has been drawn dramatically to the dwindling supplies of fossil fuels and to the growing obligation human beings have not to squander them. But other kinds of waste deserve attention also, especially from the Christian. Time, effort (physical and mental), money, and life itself, should be conserved. The whole concept of redemption is in a sense based on God’s having ...

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