Reflection on International Day for Biodiversity
May 22 marks “International Day for Biodiversity.” What is biodiversity and why is it important? The term refers to the diversity and variety and interconnectedness of the biological world. This contributes to ecosystem productivity where each species of plant and animal, no matter how small, all have an important role to play.
A healthy range of biodiversity offers us many natural services like the breakdown of pollution and climate stability, medical resources and research, soil formation for farming, and even the range of nutritious food we need to survive.
The definition of biodiversity above is formed by our human scientific perspective on nature, that biodiversity exists to serve all. If we allow this to limit our understanding, we tend to objectify the natural world. We often forget that as human beings, we are part of the biological world; we are part of this biodiversity.
St. Francis, in his poetry, invited us to expand our vision and to see all of God’s creation, plants, animals and people as a magnificent book in which God speaks directly to us with a glimpse of God’s infinite beauty and goodness. The variety of plants and animals that comprise one aspect of biodiversity are not just resources to be exploited. They have value simply in themselves, as they share God’s creative goodness. They, like us, give glory to God.
- God has been working slowly but continuously for about 15 billion years since the Big Bang began the creative process
- Between 10 -14 billion years ago, the universe began to break into galaxies
- About 4.5 billion years ago, Earth and its atmosphere were formed
- During what we now call the early Paleozoic Era, about 500 million years ago, vertebrate animals appeared
- Human emergence began about 2.6 million years ago with homo habilis using stone tools
- Ancient cave paintings have been found dating back 18,000 years ago
This long story of God’s slow but loving evolutionary work is humbling for us. We are “the new kids on the block.” This gives us a better sense of where we fit into God’s creative work. We have consciousness. We know that we know. And with this knowledge should come respect, reverence and a sense of responsibility for our role on this planet. Nature is not here just for our exploitation. Biodiversity is part of God’s overall plan and as such is to be used with wisdom, not with arrogance and greed.
Dear God, you gave us this beautiful planet with all its variety of life forms.
Let us receive it with thanks and respect it with care.
Lord God, you lovingly spoke all creation into existence,
Fill our hearts with wonder and our mouths with praise.
Almighty God, whose Spirit hovered over the waters,
Bringing order out of chaos and whose love for all living things is
Help us to live in such a way that we care for your creation with grateful
Marvel at its beauty and use its resources intelligently and respectfully.
By Sister Theresa Rodgers, CSJ