What we thought about...



13th March, 2006

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Mass extinction happening now

Barely a week goes by without an alarming report surfacing somewhere from within the international scientific community confirming yet again the parlous state of our planet. But the eco-news of the past few weeks has been truly shocking. Concrete evidence has come to light showing that the planet is entering the largest mass extinction in 65 million years. Scientists estimate that we are losing 50 species of living thing every day, compared with a “normal” rate of one extinction every five years! At that pace, we could lose fully 50% of living species by the end of the twenty-first century. The phenomenon has been dubbed “the great dying-off”. Yet you and I continue to drive our cars while the planet continues to shrivel up. What will it take to make us come to our senses?

Among the most rapidly vanishing species are insects. Nor surprising, really, when you realize that they comprise a goodly portion of all terrestrial species. A large proportion of the losses is occurring in areas such as the Amazon Basin, where huge numbers of insects hum and buzz in the canopy of jungle trees. One could easily dismiss the loss of such insects through habitat destruction as sad but inconsequential in the great scheme of human survival. True, maybe we should be more concerned about the dramatic impact of jungle loss on earth's climate than on insect biodiversity. How many of us would ever get to see canopy insects anyway?

But it gets worse. At the end of February another report sounded a tocsin much closer to home for most of us. Entitled “The State of Britain's Larger Moths”, this report tells of the serious decline of

Britain's moth population. Just maybe the loss of insects in the Amazon won't seriously impact our welfare (but then again, maybe it will), but for Britons, the loss of its moth population should be, well, scary. Sixty-two moth species are believed to have become extinct in the twentieth century, while the actual population of large moths has decreased by 32 per cent since 1968. Sir David Attenborough calls this decline “significant and worrying”. Why? Because this loss has serious consequences for the birds, bats and other small mammals that feed on moths. Who cares? We had better all care. Nobody knows just what disasters await us once the entire community of living things in a region is thrown off balance. Lose your bats and you lose one of your first lines of defense against agricultural pests and disease-carrying mosquitoes, and so on.

Look. Scripture shows that mankind is going to survive. Jesus Christ is going to return and fix all mankind's problems. Healing waters will go forth from Jerusalem and undo the mess that we have made for ourselves. Believers even take perverse comfort in our headlong dash towards worldwide disaster, knowing that thus it must be before the good times begin. They are aware of those prophecies which tell us that God will “make a mortal more rare than fine gold” (Is. 13:12). But Scripture also tells us that God delights in those who “sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within [Jerusalem]” (Ez. 9:4). True, Ezekiel was speaking about the degrading sinfulness of Jerusalem's inhabitants as the source of the righteous person's despair, but surely the principle can be extended to the sinfulness and avarice of mankind as a whole that lies behind the wholesale destruction of our planet. God holds us all accountable for our attitude towards His Creation.

Keep yourself up-to-date concerning the state of our planet by regularly checking the Diary of Destruction and Healing


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