Yeah, honestly the duty thing is a problem right through most SDA beliefs in my opinion.
Imagine two people in two different living scenarios:
The first is a teenager living in his parents’ basement. He knows the arrangement is only temporary, and spends most of his time looking forward to moving out and getting on with his “real life.” Because he respects his parents and their home, he cleans his room every week or so, but his heart isn’t really in it. He keeps the areas everyone can see tidy enough, but doesn’t spend a moment thinking about the dust bunnies under the bed, the new coat of paint that the room will eventually need, or even the asbestos hiding in the walls. He’s moving out very soon after all. Next week, probably, although he said the same thing last week. In the end, this house is not his home, he’s just passing through.
On the other hand, consider the young woman who just moved in across the street from the soon-and-very-soon basement dweller. Her new home is in need of significant maintenance and repairs, and although she didn’t create the problems herself, she jumps into extensive renovations. She has ownership over this house. Every carpet stain, every leaky pipe and every unknown problem lurking in the walls is her responsibility. She wants to raise a family in this house and make it a home. She wants to build a better future for her children. Even though she has no guarantees of success or parents to bail her out, she perseveres and invites others to join her.
This isn’t just an environmental issue. It’s an issue of responsibility and character formation. What kind of people do we want to be? If the sort of grudging, duty-bound environmentalism described here is the best the church can do, then I’d say the Adventist Church (and in my opinion most American Christians) are giving their answer loud and clear. Perhaps someday the church will grow up and move out of the basement, but again, I am not holding my breath.