Earth as seen by the Apollo 17 crew
This planet is not terra firma.
It is a delicate flower and it must be cared for.
It’s isolated, and there is no resupply.
And we are mistreating it.
— Astronaut Scott Carpenter
As we journey to Graceland, we honor the lovely Grace, Thalia. Thalia, who is also considered one of the Muses, offers us Her gracious gifts of flowering, laughter, and growth. Surely, Springtime is Her most lush, celebratory time. But what place do we actually make for Her in our lives?
When our children do not grow up with a personal, intimate friendship with Nature, this does not only harm their mental, physical and emotional health. It also means that there is no foundation for stewardship of Nature to be a priority in their adult choices.
We are seeing this already. A recent article in The Economist notes, “To the alarm of environmentalists and park managers alike, interest in the great outdoors seems to be tailing off among young Americans. The country’s extensive system of national parks includes some of the most photographed and best preserved landscapes on earth—like Yosemite Valley in California, the crenellated Teton Range in Wyoming, Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park or the white edifice of Mount Rainier in Washington state.
“But attendance at the parks is falling. Between 1995 and 2005, overnight stays in them declined 20% overall, and camping and backcountry stays dropped by 24%, according to statistics compiled by the National Parks Service.
“No park, it seems, is immune to the decline: even in Yosemite, one of the system’s oldest parks and probably its best known, the number of visitors dropped 17% over the ten-year period. The number of visitors to Death Valley, an easy drive from vigorously growing Las Vegas, went down 28% over the same span.
“In some of the system’s remoter parks, such as Lava Beds National Monument near the California-Oregon border, site of much fighting in an Indian war of 1872-73, the number of daily visitors is down to ten or fewer.”
Clearcut slope near Seattle
So when industrial, logging, oil, and coal interests decide to help themselves to the resources in our wilderness areas, who will care if they do? Especially as those interests strengthen and the perceived needs become more urgent.
But thanks to those who have sounded the alarm, change is in the wind. In fact, all kinds of wonderful suggestions have begun flowing, and they are being dubbed No Child Left Inside.
Tomorrow, I’ll share some of the exciting early results being felt by this (pardon the pun!) grassroots movement.