Endangered Species Day is May 17, 2019. The theme of the Earth Day Network’s annual campaign is Protect Our Species. This call to protect our own species is part of our obligation to care for all species in God’s creation. We cannot forget that we are part of creation.
The many reports released relating to climate change over the last several weeks have been resounding. Global warming is an imminent threat to God’s creation. Extreme weather variation, human expansion, and pollution are destroying the delicate habitats and ecosystems, leaving animals homeless and without the resources they need to thrive in the wild (not to mention the impacts on humans.)
Christians learn from the creation stories and the tale of Noah and his ark in the Bible that we are the stewards of all that God has made on Earth. We are called to use our time, abilities, and resources to care for and protect animals such as the sage grouse, a bird whose breeding grounds stretch from the eastern edges of California to the Canadian border. Recently the Department of the Interior, under Secretary Ryan Zinke, has allied with oil companies to drill and mine within the sage grouse’s federally protected breeding grounds. Oil drilling would do catastrophic damage to the sage grouse’s habitat, impairing the species’ ability to be fruitful and will likely cause its extinction.
The extinction of any species, especially when it is so easily preventable, is a failure of our responsibility for stewardship and dominion over the God’s Creation.
The story of Noah reminds us that God provided a way for animals to be cared for when the flood came. God commanded Noah use his time, ability, and resources to build an Ark and to save as many species as he could so that their numbers would recover when the flood waters receded. The Endangered Species Act (ESA) is the Ark of the modern day. It is an insurance policy that aids in the protection of endangered animals through protecting habitats and aiding in the recovery of endangered populations, putting in effect a plan for each individual species threatened with extinction to ensure their recovery. Since the Endangered Species Act was signed into law by President Nixon twenty-eight different species have been saved from extinction and removed from the endangered species list, including the bald eagle, the gray wolf, and the California sea otter.
One in five animal species is threatened or endangered; if nothing is done thousands of species will be lost to us forever.
On May 6 the United Nations released a stunning report that one million of the earth’s 8 million plant and animal species will be wiped out. Species are going extinct at a rate unmatched in our earth’s 3.5 million year history. Without a total commitment to sustainability, our future is bleak.
And so I call on all Christians to use your time to contact your representatives and express your support for the Endangered Species Act. This is our shared duty to care for God’s good creation. I call on you to use your ability and resources to learn, educate, and raise funds for the protection of wildlife. Climate change is an issue that affects all of us, from the smallest ant to the richest billionaire. And because we are all affected Christians must respond with unity by demanding with one voice the protection and continued funding of the Endangered Species Act.
rev. abby mohaupt is an ordained pastor is the Presbyterian Church (USA) and serves the denomination in a variety of capacities to connect care for the earth with faith.