The Presbyterian Church’s Call to Halt Mass Extinction

Dr. Tom English, Creation Care Educator in the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii, sent in the following article on the 2001 Presbyterian General Assembly Policy on Endangered Species.

By Dr. Tom English

Why did the Presbyterian Church issue "A Call to Halt Mass Extinction"1?  Isn't extinction a part of the normal cycle of life on this planet?  Extinction is normal; however, today's situation is certainly extreme. Current extinction rates are greater than anything the planet has seen in 65 million years, when a large meteor slammed into the Earth and ended the reign of the dinosaurs. The noted Harvard professor, E. O. Wilson2  has estimated conservatively that “Human activity has increased extinction between 1,000 and 10,000 times over this level [the normal rate] in the rain forest by reduction of area alone. Clearly we are in the midst of one of the great extinction spasms in geological history.”3

In response to this crisis, the Presbyterian Church states: "The Creator-Deliverer calls human communities to work with God to rectify the abuses whereby human impacts upon the Earth are leading to a mass extinction of living species. This mass extinction would fundamentally alter and undermine the life and well-being of the humans and other creatures that survive. It would rob all future generations of the gifts of wholeness and diversity that God intends."

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