Caring for the environment is imperative

By Clyde Davis: Columnist

Recently, Earth Day was observed. Like so many days that call notice to some relationship of importance, the danger exists that we will simply stop action, worry about that focus for a day or two, then go back to life as normal. In this case, the ideal of ecology may preoccupy us for a while, then we may return to life as wasteful.

My freshman English class has been working with the book “Hawk Flies Above” by Lisa Dale Norton. Though this narrative focuses on the Nebraska Sandhills, weaving personal journey with ecological observations, many of the concepts could easily apply to our own ecozone. This book, written in the tradition of Walden, raises questions those who live on the Llana Estacado might also ask. The Sandhills are fragile and vulnerable in the same ways as our own area.

It’s not a new idea to weave personal journal with environmental observation. Again we could cite Thoreau’s work as an example, or Sand County Almanac by Aldo Leopold, but in any of these cases, it does little good if we simply read about it.

The acid test is whether we, as human beings, have the resolve to work on issues such as global warming, toxic waste, agricultural mismanagement and wetlands destruction, before they become insurmountable and we resign ourselves to the fact that future generations will live out their lives in a drastically impoverished world. I, for one, do not like the idea of my great-grandchildren being born, living and dying under glass domes in a sterilized society.

Local participation is important. Are you aware of what actions are taking place, or being planned, in Curry, Roosevelt, or Quay counties, as well as other areas nearby? More to the point, can you weigh some of the pros and cons, to present an intelligent response to these issues? It’s not a monofaceted question; we’re talking about agricultural sustainability, land use and even wetlands issues, to name a few.

National response is also important. One key message of ecology is that we are indeed interrelated. We may live hours from a beach, but many readers enjoy going to the beach, given a chance. In other words, what happens to the coastline should matter to us for selfish reasons, as well as societal. The mountains, of course, are much closer and figure more in our normal plans.

What will happen if no one cares?

2008 is an election year, giving us the chance to judge candidates by their environmental stance, as one criterion. Certainly there are other issues, but this should be one factor. Then, as our democratic system allows, it becomes our job to “hold their feet to the fire,” making sure they live up to their promises. This is where we voters often fail.

I enjoy the outdoors, and believe we share a spiritual and physical union with other creatures. I want my grandson and my granddaughter to have the same opportunity. How about you?