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the world is under the sway of the God of creation and the God of the del-
uge—that ambivalent, dark figure who makes no promises. Nevertheless,
we could argue that our sense of this dark God has retreated into a distant
past, for it was once superseded by our trust in the kinder, gentler God of
the covenant, whose promises seem to have been realized in the relatively
stable biosphere of the Holocene. We could, in effect, match up the his-
tory of the covenant and of the Earth, construing God's promise as an
appropriate sign of the very livable world we have enjoyed over the past
ten millennia.
But in that case, our exit from the Holocene into the Anthropocene
raises new questions. Now that our own actions will almost inevitably
cause far more difficult living conditions, leading to drought, famine,
and natural disasters of many kinds, we threaten to carry out the material
equivalent of cancelling the covenant all by ourselves and of unleashing
again the God of the deluge. Such a possibility is quite relevant in our
moment because a countervailing belief in this covenant can inspire us
to deny that human beings have any such power and thus to negate the
reality of climate change itself. If we believe that God created the world
and made the rainbow covenant with all living beings, we have a strong
basis for repudiating climate change. Take as an example the statement of
John Shimkus, Republican member of Congress from the state of Illinois.
Speaking before the House Energy Subcommitee on Energy and
Environment in March 2009, Shimkus quoted Genesis 8:22, the verse I
cited a moment ago, and continued, “I believe that is the infallible word
of God, and that's the way it is going to be for his creation. The earth will
end only when God declares its time to be over. Man will not destroy this
earth. This earth will not be destroyed by a flood.”150 150
Although referring to the rainbow covenant in the midst of discus-
sions of climate change may be unusual, we should take this gesture seri-
ously. The passage on the covenant is a central statement on the viability
of creation within the religious and cultural traditions of the West. If we
are to understand the mythic resonances of climate change, we simply
must grapple with that covenant's implications. Doing so may make us
uncomfortable; after all, the rainbow covenant was not conditional on
human behavior, for it constituted an outright promise to all creation.
The possibility we could undermine the security of the creation, then,
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