What We’ve Lost

Idea time!

A book that combines the writings/accounts of long ago naturalists, explorers, and natives with interpretations of modern conservationists, naturalists, stewards, and literary minds to paint a picture of the plethora of natural wonders and subsequent experiences that we’ve lost due to the onward march of civilization, unchecked capitalism, and the lack of meaningful forethought.

I’m talking about watching a single herd of wild bison take days to walk by. The sound of oak branches snapping and thundering to the ground under the weight of untold numbers of Passenger Pigeons. What it was like to walk into untouched old growth Sequoia Forests. The ability to sit on the shores of a mountain lake, a boreal bog, or a shady stream for months on end and not hear the sound of a single engine. How it was almost surely possible to walk across rivers in the Pacific Northwest on the impossibly crowded backs of spawning salmon. Experiencing the uneasiness of walking through a forest or prairie in any state west of the Mississippi River knowing that you could encounter a Grizzly Bear or a Gray Wolf pack at any moment.

These are things that I’ll never know. Those decisions were made for me. They were all too often made in haste without much thought given to the well-being of species, people, or ecosystem, and certainly not with the dreams of future conservations, explorers, and stewards of the earth in mind. A different type of green drove these decisions.

I want to instill in us the severity of these loses, as well as their recency. It wasn’t that long ago that experiencing all of this was possible. Likely only a century. And the century before that? A land that would be nearly unrecognizably pristine and healthy.

But we were robbed. And we should be mad that most of us or our descendants didn’t get a say in these decisions. We were robbed before we even got a chance to understand or know what we had. Luckily, for some species and places, conservationists and brave stewards stepped in, but for many, it was much too late.

And while we may think we are better at weighing the needs of business, economy, and capitalism with the health of the earth and those of us who advocate for its protection, we continue to lose more battles than we win, further denying similar natural wonders to future generations. For examples, less than a year ago, the Republican tax plan included a rider than allowed mining and oil//gas industries to begin drawing up leases in the relatively untouched Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. How many of us know that happened, or even worse, knew it was on the table before we got a chance to speak up? I mean, why the hell was this decision even included in a tax plan?!

It’s time to put together a collection of our greatest natural wonders that we’ve lost to realize just how much damage we’ve done and how many dreams died before they got a chance to begin. This in an effort to instill an urgency to protect those wonders that still exist and still have the ability to lend themselves to our wildest dreams.

 

We walk along a wrong path
The one which will lead us to a wrong place

–Jose Gonzalez

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