Living Planet Report

By Tom Rowley, A Rocha USA Executive Director

Findings of World Wildlife Fund’s just-released Living Planet Report 2014 are grim.

Population sizes of vertebrate species—mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish—have declined by 52 percent over the last 40 years. In other words, those populations around the globe have dropped by more than half in fewer than two human generations.

At the same time, our own demands on nature are unsustainable and increasing. We need 1.5 Earths to regenerate the natural resources we currently use; we cut trees faster than they mature, harvest more fish than oceans replenish, and emit more carbon into the atmosphere than forests and oceans can absorb.

Grim, but not surprising. Indeed, the 2014 report echoes findings of the 2013 and the 2012 and…. Which, in turn, echo the foremost report on planetary conditions: the Bible.

Centuries before the words “extinction, climate change or environmental degradation” ever passed human lips, the prophet Hosea foreshadowed such calamities:

“There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. There is only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away. (Hos 4:1-3)

And all sources point to the same culprit: you and me. Human choices are making life on planet Earth unsustainable not just for beasts and birds and fish, but for humans as well, especially the poor.

That’s the bad news. The good news? There is hope–the hope of new heavens and new earth as the culmination of Christ’s reconciling work. Not new earth as in replacement, but as in renewed, rejuvenated, restored. And we get to (not just have to, but get to) participate in that reconciling work. As N.T. Wright puts it

The New Testament vision is of the present creation being recreated, being made new, by God. This newness is already anticipated, already breaking in to the world when people are joined to Christ in baptism and faith, and live by faith in Christ. It breaks in when people, by the power of the Spirit, perform acts of new creation, by writing a symphony or poem, by working to protect the environment, by struggling for justice and protection for the vulnerable, by building up communities, by holding at bay all the forces of destruction which threaten human lives and societies.[1]

I invite you to join A Rocha in performing acts of new creation.


[1] N. T. Wright, Reflecting the Glory: Meditations for Living Christ’s Life in the World, p. 54.

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