Last night, as I was preparing for our interactive "devotions" time, on Psalm 8, I was reading most helpful insights on us humans bearing the image of God. Almost everything stood out to me, but among them is the fact that we exercise authority from God, as God's co-regents (or, co-rulers), for God. And we don't exercise dominion over, in the sense of simply doing as we please in ruling over the earth. We are responsible to God in this authority given to us and are to seek to carry out God's will and bidding.
This distinction is important, and there is disagreement among us Christians on this. Some hold to the idea that the earth is under our dominion for us to use as we wish. But I found Dean Ohlman's take in his excellent little booklet, Celebrating the Wonder of the Wilderness (from RBC Ministries) helpful: every species (example: "over 350,000 variants" of beetles) is created by God, and therefore important. So we should be concerned that each should be preserved. Scientists don't know why certain species exist, what helpful function those species might have, but God created them, and so they each have their place, and we as God's co-regents are to exercise God's loving care over them. I think this alone counters well the notion that we can do as we please, plundering the earth for ourselves. Surely, instead, we have to exercise prudent care and use of earth and its resources.
There is much more involved in being God's image bearers, and the book I was reading on Psalm 8 is a good place to start.
What thought might you have on this?