Change begins on Earth Day |

Change begins on Earth Day

Dear Editor:

Today is Earth Day!

We fortunate few that call Aspen and Pitkin County home are blessed with some of the most remarkable natural wilderness in the contiguous United States. Within a few minutes hike from town we can be in the understory of the White River National Forest or fishing some of the best trout waters in the American West. Without much greater effort we can explore the Maroon Bells, Collegiate Peaks, and Hunter-Fryingpan wilderness areas.

From the roof of my place I can look across the Roaring Fork River, up the Castle Creek drainage and onto the entirety of the Elk Mountain range. Sitting there on a recent evening, I began to notice the activity beneath. Cars and trucks were traveling on 82, up Brush Creek and into driveways. The lights in Aspen were becoming brighter and the snowcats were cutting perfect corduroy lines for the next day’s early morning skiers. In the purple sky, I could see six planes traveling southwest toward Phoenix, L.A. or destinations abroad. It was then that our impact on the land and natural resources hit me like a 2-ton truck.

Thoreau is quoted as saying, “Thank God men cannot fly, and lay waste the sky as well as the earth.” For better or worse, that statement is no longer valid. Our technology that allows us to travel, extract resources and produce goods is truly a marvel and creates a lifestyle that we all enjoy. However, I’m concerned that we are not fully appreciating the long-term effects of our daily decisions. So… is there a more efficient and ethical way to live our lives?


Developing a greater understanding of our dependence on the natural ecosystem and the balance between development and conservation is integral to the health and well-being of Aspen locals and the global population. Always choosing the best, most responsible decision is idyllic. However, being an aware and conscious decision maker is a practical and reasonable goal that we should all strive to achieve.

Each of our decisions ” from what we eat and drink, to how we build homes or what we choose to purchase ” has an impact on our shared resources and on the global community. Aspen and Pitkin County have been leaders in respect to sustainability efforts; however, continuing to learn more about our interdependencies will allow us to establish an even more sustainable community and economy.

What better day to learn more than on Earth Day! I invite everyone to come listen and share your thoughts at the Community Conversation on Climate Action, from noon to 1:30 p.m. at ACES. Or, to take part in the Family Earth Day Celebration, from 4:30 to 6 p.m., also at Hallam Lake.

I hope to see many of you there.

Nathan Ratledge


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