My Daughter

My Daughter
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Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Alienated From Nature

I have lived on this planet for nearly 54 years. Much of that time has been spent observing and protecting nature, and having a great respect for the intricate complex web of our environment. On one hand, to many it has been a great party; but is that all man will ever be able to say of himself? He partied well? Face it, we found a “stash” of easy, cheap-oil, party material in 1859, and we have been living it up ever since, ignoring the consequences with an utterly cavalier attitude that I have found repugnant and unbelievingly short-sighted.

One evening in Yellowstone National Park, where I worked as a park ranger, I was having dinner at the Lake Hotel; a magnificent old framed structure that was built in 1892. Most of the conversation seemed to be steeped in how far and how fast the diners had come to be there. Few, if any, seemed to be concerned one way or another about what might be out there in the wild expanse of protected wilderness. But is it any wonder, really, when you stop to think about it?

Our civilization has grown increasingly alienated from the processes of nature, and therefore hardly knows where to begin thinking about the likes of ecology, much less the consequences of environmental degradation due to the use of fossil fuels and the technology that came with them. To most people, the park experience is enjoying some scenery, gawking at a few geysers, roadside stops to set to Kodak the often seen elk or bison herd, and dealing with crowded campgrounds and slow motor homes. In fact, it is viewed much like a trip to Disneyland, where wild animals should be kept locked up if they are dangerous.

Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that no one cares about the wilds of Yellowstone. Of course they do. But of the three million plus visitors to Yellowstone National Park each year, the vast majority of them see the park through their windshield in about four hours. Cars and motor homes clog the roadways. By ten in the morning, all of the campgrounds are full, every day. Conversely, if you go more than a quarter of a mile off the road, you are alone.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that the American citizenry's conscious relation to the park is woefully inadequate to insure it's long-term protection, much in the way that it is inadequate to truly comprehend the ramifications of peak-oil. Yellowstone, to continue to be Yellowstone must be appreciated as more than a place to go camping, fishing, and rollerblading. Think about it. Do you really know what must be preserved and how to do it? If Yellowstone was kept safe and nice, it would cease to be the place we set aside to preserve. After all, Yellowstone didn't require any human guidance to become what it is before the ignorant intervention of mankind. This same kind of ignorance of the natural and physical world is going to plague us with the crisis of peak-oil, and thus, finding a sustainable solution.

1 comment:

amorando said...

As I read this entry i am reminded of the sunami. THe wild animals were not inundated. A small group of primitive or next to nature people were not inundanted. People behind mangrove groves were not inundate. In other words the living creatures that were in communion with nature were not inundated.
I would see an analysis of the question of which technological "advance" has brought us closer or and which farther from nature.
I am farther from it now that I was in my childhood. I grew up on a farm in northern Wis. I now live in one of the major urban areas of the US, where children don't know where milk comes from, where they don't know what it means to kill something and so forth.