Perhaps you recall as a child gazing on the scene of Noah’s Ark decorating the walls of your Sunday school classroom. Have you recently thought much about that Biblical event? Is it relevant today, or just a childhood story? What message does that Biblical story tell? Do you remember the song “The Unicorn” made famous by the Irish Rovers in 1968 Although the unicorn did not make it onto the ark, the song continues to be heard today. But we are not living in a fantasy world! The world’s biodiversity is in decline. How might that connect with the Biblical story of the Ark? Cal DeWitt, founding director of Au Sable Institute, describes the Endangered Species Act (ESA) as the modern-day Ark, with each of us called to be a Noah!
The ESA is our country’s first line of defense to protect our biodiversity. Passed in 1973, it serves as one of our nation’s most important environmental laws and is the model for similar laws in other countries. Today there are over 1600 species of plants and animals listed as endangered or threatened under the ESA. When a species is listed, its critical habitat is also identified. By the time most species are considered for listing, the population has declined to crisis level with the species often occupying only a small part of its historic range – often in marginal habitat. For instance, Grizzly bears today occupy only 2% of their historic range.
How does the ESA relate to you and me personally in terms of what we can do as stewards of Creation? We are only individuals and touch only a small part of Creation. But there are many helpful things that we can do if we are informed. On the home front, what threatened/endangered species occur in your backyard? Do you know? If you have a cat that ranges outdoors, how many threatened birds does it eat in a year? Our task is to minimize our ecological footprint.
Several years ago, I was asked to present expert testimony before the House Committee on Resources in Washington DC regarding a bill (H.R. 2933, Critical Habitat Reform Act of 2003). The bill, if passed, would have continued to protect the individual living organisms, but would have removed much of the protection from the critical habitat that they depended upon to live. My assigned task was to address why Christians supported the Endangered Species Act. I welcomed the opportunity, and, because of my background in conservation biology, I was also able to also address the importance of the ESA as a trained scientist. Linked below is my oral testimony. An additional 50 or so pages from follow-up questions are available in the congressional record.
How would you have responded to this opportunity speak for Creation? What opportunities are available to you locally? Plant a pollinator garden? Support a local land trust? Write a letter? If you wish, read my congressional testimony at
— Joe Sheldon
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