Paul Andersen: Fair Game
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
What kind of world will our children and grandchildren inherit? Most of us take it on faith that the world will still be a pleasant place after we’re gone … that there’s little we can do about it anyway.
What a copout. Each decision we make today will outlive us. Everything we do bears on the future. The job description of parenting includes focus on the long term for our kids.
Breathable air and drinkable water are two critical criteria, keys to a long-term quality of life. And what provides these benefits? Wild lands. That’s where good watersheds and clear airsheds are made … by nature, not by man.
As oil and gas drilling proliferates on public lands, air and water quality are diminished. This is no abstraction; it’s happening on a federal lease near you. A recent study revealed that ATV traffic in Utah has a direct effect on the Colorado snowpack. Off-roading, and the erosion it causes, lays a red dusting on Colorado snow, causing it to melt faster and impact ecosystems. Climate change is the most universal threat, its potential for devastation irrefutably linked to fossil fuels.
Beyond environment, wild lands provide intangible psychological benefits that counter the constant cultural bombardment of stress and stimulation. Wildness is an antidote to industrial madness, a salve for the human mind.
Taking responsibility for our children’s future means placing high value on the attributes of nature. It means valuing nature itself and never taking clean air and water for granted. We owe our children a positive legacy, built out of the choices we make.
Children have rights, and what better way to understand those rights than to hear a sampling of their voices? A student writing contest recently conducted by the Wilderness Workshop asked what our youth consider important about wilderness. These views ought to become part of the record.
“Many venture out into the wild because they like the peace and quiet and the simple, natural magnificence of its beauty and have the sense of adventure to see wonderful sights rarely seen by others.” – Jake Floria, 8th grade.
“Climbing the mountain, becoming more and more involved in nature, I found the true importance of wilderness for me: peace, freedom, and a chance to let your mind run wild and free.” – Riley Kinney, 8th grade.
“So peaceful and beautiful is nature that it causes those who journey deep inside of it to think of all of the life that dwells within it.” – Travis Mason, 8th grade.
“The wilderness is the reason we’re alive, and if we decide to damage it, then we are basically damaging the human race. I think that we wouldn’t be here without the wilderness.” – Rotceh Vazquez, 7th grade.
“Without wilderness we would be trapped in a cage of manmade environment … Without nature we would be impoverished.” – Cassidy Creer, 7th grade.
“Wilderness is a beautiful thing. It pulls the Earth together to keep it whole. To me, wilderness is the pure part of our world.” – Jessica Hardin, 7th grade.
“I think we should preserve the wilderness for our children and our children’s children so they can experience the raw beauty of the wilderness.” – Johier Begay, 7th grade.
“Development and technology have blinded many people to the fact that humans have coexisted with wilderness, and the wildlife in it, for millions of years. Only in recent years have we lost sight of nature’s true state.” – Aubree Kozis, 8th grade.
“The stars see what we are doing/Even when they are covered in smog from our dirty cities/They see what we do and weep for the wild places on our planet/They know that wildlife must be saved and given lenience/They sing to those who are working toward saving wilderness/And dance with the moon when hope is returned.” – Mikaela Liotta, 8th grade.
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Aspen City Hall reporter Carolyn Sackariason reflects on the same old story, different year, different decade.