Priest/scientist says action needed to stave off extinction
Political, economic and religious leaders need to take decisive action if some 11,000 species are not to become extinct in the next 50-100 years according to Dr Seán McDonagh, a missionary priest and expert on the environment.
Dr McDonagh claims that the battle to stave off the 'extinction of species which could sterilise the planet', is as important as the fight against slavery and efforts to protect workers' rights in previous generations. He makes these points in his new book, The Death of Life: The Horror of Extinction, which has just been published.
The extinction of one species has a 'knock-on effect on at least 16 other species,' he says. Yet, political and economic decision makers 'do not appreciate the extent to which the insatiable demands of our global economy are thoroughly tearing apart the web of life, with disastrous consequences for future generations'.
The Church too has had an ambivalent attitude towards earth and creation, and Dr McDonagh is critical of church leaders who stayed silent on the massive problems that faced the earth in the twentieth century. Indeed, it was 1990 before the first papal document devoted exclusively to environment and development issues was published.
Human activity causes extinction in three ways according to Dr McDonagh: habitat destruction, the introduction of alien species into an ecosystem, and human-created pollution.
A significant part of The Death of Life looks at the role of the Church in relation to the environment.
For the sake of future generations, we need to 'lower population, alter consumption levels and promote more resource-efficient technologies'. This has ramifications, for instance, for the Catholic position on birth control, and for the 'modern, growth-oriented, industrial model of development,' which Dr McDonagh states has been 'the principal cause of ecological devastation in our world today'.
Decisive Action Needed to Stave Off Threat of Extinction According to Expert (Columba News Release 13/1/05)
The Death of Life: The Horror of Extinction
Catholic Earthcare Australia
Columban Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice
Bishops Committee Justice Development Ecology and Peace
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17 Jan 2005