The pika is a species native to the Rocky Mountains. They’re also known as the cony or the rock rabbit. Small as a hand, thick-furred, short-eared mammals, they like the cold regions near the mountain peaks, and they cannot thrive when the temperatures warm up. Hence the problem develops as the climate gets warmer farther and farther up the mountain slope. The species begins to disappear as the pika are crowded into smaller territories by the increasing warmth, and where can you go when you reach the top? So they are in danger of extinction.
The territories of many species are shrinking as the human territory expands. Even more creatures are succumbing to changes in climate. It seems that homo sapiens (the “wise guys”) are taking over like a hoard of locusts, whether we plan to or not, consuming everything in sight. This is more than “having dominion over all living things” as Genesis 1:28 phrased it.
Human beings have a special capacity for compassion and understanding of other creatures– one another and all kinds of others. We can feel sorry…for ourselves but also for others. We can identify so much with others that we can put ourselves in their place, and grieve the threats of extinction. As they disappear we may rightly wonder whether we are setting the stage for our own disappearance, when we are no longer entertained, instructed or assisted by many of the beings who have kept us company in God’s ongoing creation. We may be pushed off the top by forces of our own making.
Poor little pika. People have the ability to act as well as feel. Do we need to go to the mountains and collect the remaining colonies and move them to yet higher ground on taller mountains? Do we build refrigerated, climate-controlled zoo facilities than can keep colonies alive until we figure out how to restore them to a natural environment?Or do some things just have to go when their time is up? Do we have to keep moving on to higher ground until there is nowhere to go but “up” in another way?