This is somewhat difficult to grasp or believe. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, right now there is a very real possibility that 41 percent of all amphibian species and 25 percent of all mammals are ripe for extinction.
Stanford University researchers have also announced that species are disappearing faster than at any time since the dinosaur’s demise 66 million years ago. The earth’s growing human population, per capita consumption, and economic inequality are altering or destroying natural habitats. The list of impacts includes:
- Land clearing for farming, logging, and settlement
- Introduction of invasive species
- Carbon emissions that drive climate change and ocean acidification
- Toxins that alter and poison ecosystems
As species disappear, so do crucial ecosystem services such as honeybees’crop pollination and wetlands’ water purification. At the current rate of species loss, people will lose many biodiversity benefits within three generations. Stanford University professor Paul Ehrlich said it best, “We are sawing off the limb that we are sitting on.”
On the positive side of the ledger, in 2006 the U.S. Senate created Endangered Species Day (third Friday in May) to expand awareness of protecting threatened species, to promote habitat conservation, to share success stories of species recovery, and to highlight everyday actions each of us can take. Throughout May, churches, conservation organizations, schools, zoos and aquariums, parks, wildlife refuges, botanic gardens and other groups across the country participate in events and activities to celebrate this national day of caring.
But what motivates us to care about species extinction? After all, most of us live in urban settings devoid of wildlife.
As Red Letter Christians, we find our rationale for caring for creation in Psalms 104 and 148, Job 12:7-10, and Daniel 3:57-82. We also recall the insight from Wisdom 11:24, “For you love all things that exist, and detest none of the things that you have made; for you would not have made anything if you had hated it.” Additionally, we can see God in what God has made (Romans 1:19-20). We are called to not undo God’s handiwork.
Here are some actions for you to consider:
- Download the Faith Celebration Toolkit: creationjustice.org/endangered
- Raise awareness on social media: Howl, roar, hoot, splash, and hiss for God’s threatened and endangered species. Take a short video or vine of animal noises to “speak for” a creature you care about. Post to #BlessTheAnimals and #EndangeredSpecies. Be sure to tag Creation Justice Ministries @CreationJustice so we can share it too.
- Host a Blessing of the Animals: Animal blessings can be done any time of year, but many Christian communities organize them in honor of the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi in October. Share photos at #BlesstheAnimals.
- Contact policymakers: Policymakers at every level need to hear about the Endangered Species Act. Use this easy letter-writing form to raise your voice.
I pray you will also resonate as I do with this recent meditation from Richard Rohr:
“When you love something, you grant it soul, you see its soul, and you let its soul touch yours. You must love something, deeply to know its soul. Before the resonance of love, you are largely blind to the meaning, value, and power of ordinary things to ‘save’ you — to help you live in union with the source of all being. In fact, until you can appreciate and even delight in the soul of other things, even trees and animals, I doubt if you have discovered your own soul either. Soul knows soul.”