There have been five mass extinctions in the history of our planet where more than 75% of species are lost. There were many causes—continental drift, asteroid impacts, simultaneous volcanic eruptions, and, most important: climate change. Scientists now suspect that we are in the midst of a sixth mass extinction.
Just last week the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that 23 species were being removed from the “endangered” list because they were almost certainly extinct, having not been seen for decades. In addition, the monarch butterfly and the bumble bee are getting close to extinction.
The cause? Almost certainly human activity that has destroyed habitat, introduced invasive species, caused pollution and brought about another age of climate change. One of the animals declared extinct is the ivory-billed woodpecker. A PBS Newshour segment explores the causes.
Over a million species world-wide are on track to extinction. But there are still things we can do. We can, of course, as individuals, do very little other than change our eating habits, rewild property we own and join local groups that root out invasive species. Collectively we can do a lot more. The National Resources Defense Council lists five major ways the administration can act now to slow extinction. An article in USA Today promotes two bi-partisan acts before congress that address the issue, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and the Great American Outdoors Act. You can write your members of congress urging support of these two pieces of legislation and write the Whitehouse to urge executive action.
It is our Christian duty to act. Henry Karlson writes in Pateos “The story of Noah’s Ark indicates God’s desire for humanity to take care of and preserve animal life, making sure not one species becomes extinct. . . . The story shows how Noah, in his actions, fulfilled the stewardship that humanity had been granted over creation. It is a responsibility which did not end with Noah but continues with us to this day.” He urges us, in the rest of his essay, to stop abandoning our duty.
To learn more about the sixth extinction, you can read Elizabeth Kolbert’s highly praised book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History.
Thank you for your commitment to Creation Care!