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January on the Brink

I usually experience New Year’s Eve as a moment of being on the brink when I remove the previous year’s Natural Events Calendar and hang a new one. While doing this, I intentionally inhale the future and exhale the past in a grounding way that keeps me in the present moment. This year being on the brink has a much deeper feel from the past, and I am moved to head out to the bluffs at La Vista where I can spend some time peering over the edge.

“We are about to go off a cliff and running out of time to avoid it.” These haunting words were spoken by the moderator of a webinar I participated in during

late fall of 2020, and they have remained with me. During four informative sessions of the Species in Peril Webinar my understanding of the biodiversity crisis deepened. (Webinars are archived on the UNM Species in Peril web site.)

For quite a while I have been thinking of climate breakdown as the major threat to our planet, and now I realize that biodiversity annihilation is an equally significant planetary crisis, and that each contributes to the escalation of the other. While public acknowledgement of the climate crisis is increasing, there is little public understanding and awareness of the escalating biodiversity crisis.

During 2020 the shocking fact that 3 billion birds have disappeared since 1970 became common knowledge. Scientists are now estimating that nearly 1,000,000 species are nearing extinction in the coming decade. The numbers are so staggering as to be unimaginable, as are the ramifications for every being on Earth.

During the webinar I was moved by the speaker who encouraged us to find our special area of concern and do it with passion 10,000 times. He said if your specialty is making donations, give $10,000 to an organization that furthers your cause; if it is to write a blog about your interest, write 10,000 times. Now is not the time for small efforts. He told us not to be ashamed of leading with our values, and it is apparent he does this in his own life. He founded the Center for Carnivore Coexistence, and he spoke passionately about extending social justice to the non-human world. He said, “Right now animals have no standing in court, and so the animal will always end up losing. Animals need equal protection under the law and due process”. His comments called to mind Thomas Berry’s insistence that until now we’ve only had human jurisprudence, but at this time we need Earth jurisprudence, and nothing less will get us into the future.

On World Environment Day, 2020, Pope Francis put it this way: “The protection of the environment and respect for the biodiversity of the planet are issues that affect us all. We cannot pretend to be healthy in a world that is sick. The wounds inflicted on our mother earth are wounds that also bleed in us”.

Truly we are on the brink, and not just for a night until the sun rises on a new calendar year.


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