The other day I paid a visit to our friends at Times and Seasons, and I noticed that on their sidebar, Adam G. had linked to a story he called Renewable Nature Wreckers.   I found the link unfortunate for two reasons: 1) the article was yet another laughable attempt to debunk the feasibility of renewable energy by using false dilemmas that don’t account for siting or the pace of innovation, and 2) it always saddens me to see otherwise smart people who I respect supporting this kind of commentary.  In May 2006, the issue of nuclear energy made headlines in Utah as a firm called Private Fuel Storage was seeking to create a site for the storage of nuclear waste in Tooele County, Utah.  The Church took the rare step of weighing in on this issue, and the First Presidency’s statement is found here:

 “The transportation and storage of high-level nuclear waste create substantial and legitimate public health, safety, and environmental concerns.
 “It is not reasonable to suggest that any one area bear a disproportionate burden of the transportation and concentration of nuclear waste.
 “We ask the federal government to harness the technological and creative power of the country to develop options for the disposal of nuclear waste.”

Those three phrases beg corresponding questions:

1) What business does the 1st Presidency have commenting on the validity of concerns over the safety of nuclear waste?
2) Why not?  Why not let the free market decide where waste is disposed of?  Why take a NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) position?  The waste has to go somewhere, right?
3) Why should the Federal Government take any role whatsoever in influencing the way the free market operates in energy issues?

I ask those questions rhetorically, since I am 100% in agreement with the First Presidency’s position and I believe the “free market” is more or less a false god that does not really exist except in sexy theoretical models that have limited usefulness in the real world.  I also believe that the First Presidency has every right to comment on energy issues because the way we treat the earth is an issue that is moral in nature.

I think a lot of members of the Church have their pet issues that we wish the Church would address differently or just more fully, and stewardship of the earth is one such issue for me, which is why I was thrilled to see the First Presidency issue that statement on nuclear power.  I have often wondered how a lot of our leadership feel about environmental issues, and I have said before that I love surprises, so here are some quotes from ultra-conservative Ezra Taft Benson:

A common problem is a concern for our environment. It is not likely that someone who does not love his neighbor will be concerned with his adverse impact on the  environment. To love one’s neighbor is a spiritual law. Just as physical laws are interrelated, so are spiritual laws. One dimension of spiritual law is that a man’s self-regard and his esteem for his fellowmen are intertwined.

If there is disregard for oneself, there will be disregard for one’s neighbor. If there is no reverence for life itself, there is apt to be little reverence for the resources God has given man. The outward expressions of irreverence for life and for fellowmen often take the form of heedless pollution of both air and water. But are these not expressions of the inner man?

Whatever mortal reasons there are to be concerned about environment, there are eternal reasons, too, for us to be thoughtful stewards. President Brigham Young said: “Not one particle of all that comprises this vast creation of God is our own. Everything we have has been bestowed upon us for our action, to see what we would do with it—whether we would use it for eternal life and exaltation, or for eternal death and degradation.”

We are concerned about scarred landscapes that cause floods and leave an economic emptiness that haunts the coming generations. Similarly, unchastity leaves terrible scars, brings floods of tears and anguish, and leaves a moral emptiness. Significantly, both imprudent strip mining and unchastity rest on a life-style that partakes of an “eat, drink, and be merry” philosophy-gouge and grab now without regard to the consequences. Both negligent strip mining and unchastity violate the spirit of stewardship over our planet and person.