Resource | Desmond Hartwell Murray

Environmental Fridays: From Awareness to Action—

Addressing the Lamentations of Nature

It is late June 2023. The air quality index (AQI) in southwest Michigan’s Berrien County is dangerously unhealthy, as it is in many other places across the United States.1 On my way to O’Hare International Airport, haze obstructed the view of downtown Chicago as it did in other major American cities. The skies in some places appeared flaming red-orange as the Canadian wildfire smoke pervaded the air. Health advisories encouraged residents to stay inside—especially asthmatics—or to wear N95 masks when going outside.2 Millions of people were affected one way or another by this border-crossing smoke.3

Unsurprisingly, studies have consistently shown direct connections and correlations between air pollution and respiratory diseases, including Long COVID.4 For some, breathing is hard and labored; for others, it is deadly. According to a 2021 report, air pollution contributes to almost 11,000 deaths in the U.S. annually.5 Another report indicates that it contributed to at least 1.8 million excess deaths globally in 2019.6 Air pollution is at once unapologetically local, regional, and personal. It needs no passport; there is no hiding place. Indeed, the influences and impacts of nature and the environment are uniquely unbothered by immigration laws and international treaties. Borders cannot protect us, for we live entangled on earth and under the heavens.

Air pollution, along with record-breaking global high temperatures,7 are subjects of interest and relevance, among many other wide-ranging topics, featured in a free online extracurricular guest-speaker lecture series I designed and organized called Environmental Fridays ( This article not only describes the program but also focuses on the broader value of this series for environmental education, particularly within the Seventh-day Adventist setting.

At the beginning of human time in the Eden School, after God created the heavens and the earth, humans were given the responsibility to “dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15, KJV). Herein lies the genesis of the core and immutable ethics of environmental stewardship and conservation. This mandate remains binding upon us all even now, as witnesses to and participants in both the glories and the lamentations of nature. This should be imminently true for those who profess belief in the divine creatorship of everything in heaven and on earth. Therefore, it lies within our responsibility to future generations to preserve the glories of creation and to remedy the lamentations of nature: pollution, loss of biodiversity, the climate crisis, and other crises.8 We must resolve to change the fact that we are the only life form, of the 1.2 million that have been identified so far, that routinely and deliberately destroys our environment. The recovery of nature around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and during COVID speaks volumes about our impact and nature’s resilience.9 We must now come to fully realize creation care,10 stewardship, and redemption as urgent values in our relationship with the environment.

I have undertaken a way of integrating into our education system this faith—our faith—with the responsibility of environmental stewardship and conservation. I call the initiative Environmental Fridays. . . . It Is Personal. It is a free Zoom-based weekly lecture series that fosters environmental awareness and encourages action, restoration, and stewardship. It offers free supplemental multidisciplinary subject content covering physical, social, health, and life sciences related to numerous environmental concerns, including pollution, biodiversity, and climate change.

However, Environmental Fridays goes beyond faith and information by seeking to translate both into interventions, improvements, actions, and solutions. It is both a vehicle for awareness and action and a call for our restoration and stewardship of the environment. But it is even more. It seeks more: to reconnect us spiritually with nature and create meaning for our lives that transcends our secular culture, and goes beyond our science and technology.

William Wordsworth, romantic English poet (1770–1850), reminisced in his ode, “Intimations of Immortality,” about the past glory of nature: “The things which I have seen I now can see no more.”. . . “That there hath past away a glory from the earth.” . . . “Where is it now, the glory and the dream?”11 But, is it that nature has lost her glory or that we do not behold her as we ought to; that we are more disconnected from her than past generations were? Is it also that we view her mostly by what she can do for us, what we can get from her, rather than what we can give to her? That we now see her mostly for function and utility rather than for inspiration and beauty? Environmental Fridays seeks to repair this breach in our relationship with nature, the environment, and ultimately with ourselves.

Over the past two academic years, there have been 58 episodes hosted by 70 speakers from 12 different countries. All episodes are recorded, uploaded, and accessible on YouTube. The episodes of Environmental Fridays can be found by searching on YouTube using the phrase, “Environmental Fridays.”

Season V is scheduled Fall 2023 (September 2023 to December 2023) with 14 episodes lined up and will subsequently be followed by Season VI (January 2024 to April 2024), with 16 episodes (see Schedules for Season V and VI). Details and updates can be found at the Environmental Fridays website:, and in its Facebook group:

So far, Environmental Fridays has led to the formation of two derivative organizations that are actively translating awareness and knowledge into action and solutions: A 4 Asthma ( is committed to alleviating the suffering of asthmatics in Benton Harbor and beyond in southwest Michigan, and InTobago ( focuses on increasing awareness of the rich biodiversity on the Caribbean island of Tobago, which may contribute to building its ecotourism sector. Both organizations are community focused and engage students and youth. For example, InTobago was co-founded and is led by Kerrisanne Adams, a Tobago national, pursuing a premed biology degree at the University of the Southern Caribbean, located in the Maracas Valley, on the island of Trinidad.

Environmental Fridays is also listed and referenced on the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy website as a Michigan Partner in Environmental Education ( Selected testimonials from students, teachers, and others regarding Environmental Fridays can be found here:

Getting Involved

There are at least six different ways you can get involved with Environmental Fridays. First, visit the Environmental Friday website and view past episodes. (See Second, suggest a guest speaker and or topic, including presentations by students. Third, volunteer to co-host with me to introduce guest speakers and facilitate the Q&A session. Co-hosts can be teachers, staff, students, and others. Fourth, attend the live-streamed scheduled episodes at 9:30 a.m. EST on Fridays. Fifth, use the videos posted on YouTube as supplemental classroom and course materials. Sixth, attendees and patrons of Environmental Fridays can translate the knowledge learned into action and solutions.

Topics and Speakers

A variety of topics are presented in Environmental Fridays, such as biodiversity, pollution, and climate change to environmental health, environmental justice, and environmental poetry. These multidisciplinary topics include content from the physical, social, earth, and life sciences, as well as history, geography, and culture. The topics are dealt with at education levels ranging from high school to college and are also designed to target a lay public audience. The episodes are organized around a semester-based academic year (fall and spring), with planning and scheduling done during the summer.

Environmental Fridays’ guest speakers come from a wide variety of backgrounds, subject expertise, and life experiences across the United States, the Caribbean, and other places. They represent government and non-governmental agencies, businesses, volunteer organizations, environmental entities, and educational institutions. They have come from national and international agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control, and the United Nations Environment Programme. For example, there have been guest speakers from Ukraine who talked about the impact of the war on the environment; and there was an episode on the impact of Sargassum seaweed on Caribbean islands. Other speakers have discussed forest wildfires, biodiversity restoration, environmental justice, the impact of air pollution on children’s health and development, ecopoetry, the triple planetary crisis (pollution, climate change, and loss of biodiversity), and more.

As a public science program, Environmental Fridays provides multidisciplinary science and humanities content about the environment or related to it. Part of the growing field of environmental communication,12 this online lecture series provides a platform for the public to interact with and learn directly from experts, scientists, activists, and others about the environment. Likewise, the series provides scientists with a means of communicating directly with the public rather than through traditional media, social media, or via inaccessible specialty journal articles. The program helps to contextualize physical, social, and life science concepts in relevant real-world and consequential circumstances, challenges, and examples.

Environmental Fridays also addresses a deficiency in American education reported in a 2018 study, which indicated only two states require environmental science for high school graduation.13 In addition, while most high school chemistry books have a chapter on water, they do not have chapters on the chemistry of air or soil.14 It is reasonable then to assume that this lack of exposure to fundamental environmental education leads to misunderstandings of many vital concerns such as pollution, loss of biodiversity, climate change, and our role in them. Furthermore, there is often much left to be desired in the communication of environmental facts and issues that can also account for public misunderstanding, attitudes, and interest. For our future, a greater emphasis should be placed on the intentional integration of environmental science, sustainability, and awareness across the curriculum.15

“Altar Call”

I believe that every Sabbath keeper should also be an Earth-keeper, environmentally active and proactive. These characteristics should arise from our deep beholding of the awe, wonder, and mystery of God’s works. The God of the Sabbath is the God of our environment—all of it, including us. Exodus 20:11 connects for all time God’s act of creation with the general principle of rest and restoration. Washington Adventist University Professor Olive J. Hemmings makes this observation: “Creation requires Sabbath—rest and restoration as a general principle.”16 This idea of Sabbath rest is also explicitly invoked and expressed by God for the land in Leviticus 25:4 to 7 and 2 Chronicles 36:21.17

Every Sabbath we should celebrate the blessings and pleasures of nature, intentionally and explicitly. We should have an active environmental ministry, in both words and deeds.18 We should ask, each Sabbath, the simple question, “What have I done this week to improve the environment?” We must go beyond awareness to action, and from statements and sermons to sustainable solutions.19 This should be our commitment, beyond pulpit, pew, and pedagogy to the actual practice of restoration and stewardship of God’s creation.

Furthermore, our denominational eschatology should never be used to rationalize reluctant engagement in or even abstinence from the work of restoration and stewardship of God’s creation. Environmental negligence is internally inconsistent with the fact that we do all manner of planning and stewardship for the future, individually and corporately: there’s educational and career planning, family planning, financial planning, and institutional planning throughout our schools, hospitals, conferences, and other organizational entities. We do not wait in these areas for Jesus’ return for final or complete fixes. Thus, any reluctance or inertia to engage in environmental ministry, creation care, and stewardship based on our belief in the Second Coming contradicts what we do in multiple areas of our lives and in our church’s institutions.

I encourage us—our church, individually and corporately, to take up this mission and become global leaders, in word and deed, for the restoration, stewardship, and compassionate care of all God’s creation. We cannot afford to be Laodicean toward the environment. Rather, we must proactively affirm our faith in the sacredness of the Word of God and the Works of God. May this faith compel us to change the world, to redeem the world, and restore the meaning of nature to our very souls.20

Desmond Hartwell Murray

Desmond Hartwell Murray, PhD, is Associate Professor of Chemistry at Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, U.S.A. He is Founding Director of Building Excellence in Science and Technology (BEST Early), Inspire Early, Environmental Fridays, and the Center for Early Research. He is also co-founder of A 4 Asthma and InTobago. He is Lead Editor for and Chapter Author in the 2016 American Chemical Society Symposium book, The Power and Promise of Early Research. In 2018, he received Andrews University’s highest faculty honor – the John Nevins Andrews Medallion. He was recognized as the 2010 Thought Leader in Science Education for Southwest Michigan, as the 2012 College Teacher of the Year for the State of Michigan, and by the American Chemical Society Accreditation Committee in 2021 for his early research initiatives.

Recommended citation:

Desmond Hartwell Murray, “Environmental Fridays: From Awareness to Action—Addressing the Lamentations of Nature,” The Journal of Adventist Education 85:2 (2023): 25-32.


  1. Air Quality in Berrien County, Michigan, United States (2023):
  2. Jacob Knutson, “Air Quality Alerts Are No Joke. How Wildfire Smoke Affects the Body,” Axios (June 27, 2023):; Government of Canada, “Wildfire Smoke, Air Quality and Your Health” (2023):
  3. Bruce Y. Lee, “Canada Wildfire Smoke Hits Northeast U.S., Here Are Potential Health Effects,” Forbes (July 7, 2023):
  4. United Nations Environment Programme, “Pollution Action Note—Data You Need to Know,” Published September 7, 2021, updated August 30, 2022,; Hamza Badamasi, “Even Low Air Pollution Levels Can Lead to Lung Diseases: Study” (June 25, 2022):
  5. Kevin R. Cromar et al., “Excess Morbidity and Mortality Associated With Air Pollution Above American Thoracic Society Recommended Standards, 2017-2019,” Annals of American Thoracic Society 19:4 (2021):
  6. Veronica A. Southerland et al., “Global Urban Temporal Trends in Fine Particulate Matter (PM2·5) and Attributable Health Burdens: Estimates From Global Datasets,” The Lancet 6:2 (2022): E139-E146:
  7. Nikk Ogasa, “Last Week Was the Hottest Ever Recorded—Here’s Why We Keep Smashing Records,” Science News (July 13, 2023):
  8. Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, “A Planet That Sustains Everyone, Everywhere,” March 21, 2023, speech,; Andrea Hinwood, Chief Scientist of the United Nations Environment Programme, “Our Triple Planetary Crisis,” May 13, 2022 Environmental Fridays episode:
  9. Stephen Starr, “Recovery of Nature in Vast Zone Around Chernobyl Under Threat,” The Irish Times (March 31, 2022):; United Nations Environment Programme, “How Chernobyl Has Become an Unexpected Haven for Wildlife” (September 16, 2020):; Emily Anthes, “Did Nature Heal During the Pandemic ‘Anthropause’?” The New York Times (July 16, 2022):
  10. Douglas J. Moo and Jonathan A. Moo, Creation Care: A Biblical Theology of the Natural World (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2018): Steven Bouma-Prediger, Creation Care Discipleship. Why Earthkeeping Is an Essential Christian Practice (Ada, Mich.: Baker Books, 2023); Philip Hughes, “Recommended Reading on Creation Care” (2022):
  11. William Wordsworth, “Ode: Intimations of Immortality From Recollections of Early Childhood,” Poetry Foundations,
  12. Phaedra C. Pezzullo and J. Robert Cox, Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere (Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE Publications Inc., 2021). ISBN: 9781544387031.
  13. Matthew Hoover et al., Earth and Space Sciences Education in U.S. Secondary Schools: Key Indicators and Trends (Number 3.0) (Alexandria, Va.: American Geosciences Institute, 2018). ISBN-13:978-1-941878-90-3:; Sarah Liez, “Environmental Science Should Become a Required High School Course,” The Pitt News (March 16, 2023):
  14. This statement is based on observations during my many years of teaching chemistry and my working knowledge of the high school chemistry curriculum standards and resources.
  15. James Fester, “7 Tips for Exploring Environmental Science Through Project-Based Learning” (April 14, 2021):; Powered by AI and LinkedIn, “How Can You Integrate Sustainability Into Your Curriculum Across Different Subjects?” (2023):; California Department of Education, “Environmental Education and Environmental Literacy: Information on Current Environmental Literacy Resources and Grant Opportunities” (July 25, 2023):
  16. Personal communication with Olive J. Hemmings, PhD, Professor of Theology at Washington Adventist University, Takoma Park, Maryland, U.S.A.
  17. Leviticus 25:4 (NIV) states: “But in the seventh year the land is to have a year of sabbath rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards.” Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
  18. Statements about Seventh-day Adventists and the Environment: “Caring for the Environment” (1992):; “Environment” (1995):, “The Dangers of Climate Change” (1995):; “Stewardship of the Environment” (1996):; Adult Sabbath School Quarterly, “Stewardship and the Environment” (Lesson 10) in Origins (First Quarter, 2013); Floyd E. Hayes and W. K. Hayes, “What Do Adventists Have to Say to the World About Environmental Stewardship?” In S. G. Dunbar, L. J. Gibson, and H. M. Rasi, eds., Entrusted: Christians and Environmental Care (Mexico: Adventus – International University Publishers, 2013), 253-262; The Journal of Adventist Education Special Issue: Embracing and Teaching Environmental Awareness 76:1 (October/November 2013); Cindy Tutsch, “Ellen White and the Environment,” Adventist World (January 1, 2018):
  19. Several recommendations regarding what Adventist educators can do are found here: (a) Daniel Gonzalez-Socoloske, “Why Nature Matters: Seventh-day Adventist Education in the Anthropocene,” The Journal of Adventist Education 81:3 (2019): 28-34:; In personal communications, Spring Valley Academy Physical Science Teacher Dillon C. Zimmerman suggested the idea of environment-focused student mission and ministry opportunities.
  20. Acknowledgments of and gratitude to colleagues, friends, family, and THE JOURNAL OF ADVENTIST EDUCATION personnel who served as manuscript reviewers.