16 Oct 2021
At last the land is populated and humankind makes an entrance, sharing the day with countless other living creatures. Yet humans are different, made in the image of God and entrusted with dominion over other living things. God's love for his whole creation is evident 'it was very good'. Later in Genesis his covenant included all the living creatures that were with Noah (9: 19). His caring is emphasised in Psalm 104:
'You make springs gush forth in the valleys;
they flow between the hills,
giving drink to every wild animal;
The wild asses quench their thirst.' (10-11).
In Psalm 65 'all flesh', all living animals worship God.
Being made in the image of God our 'dominion 'is intended to reflect this love and caring, not abuse it. Sadly, we are continuing to fail in this respect. A recent study from the Natural History Museum has shown that the UK has lost more of its natural biodiversity (the variety of plant and animal life) than almost anywhere else in Western Europe, a consequence of leading in the industrial and agricultural revolutions. The decline in hedgehogs in Britain illustrates this, from around 30 million in the 1950s to about a million now.
World- wide wildlife populations have plummeted by more than two-thirds since 1970. Five main causes have been identified-changes in land use (for farming), exploitation of natural resources, the climate crisis, pollution and invasive species.
The different human interventions that have led to the loss of biodiversity are all interlinked. Urgent action is needed to reverse this destructive trend. There is some hope with the opening phase of the convention on biological diversity (CBD) Cop 15 meeting hosted by China. A second phase next year will aim to set targets for preventing biodiversity loss.
As individuals we can examine our actions, for example in what we eat and how we use plastic. We know the responsibility that God has given us but the rather odd story of Balaam, the donkey and the Angel (Numbers 22: 22-40) is a reminder of our fallibility!