The Paris Agreement Need Not Die in Our Hearts

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I cried to hear our president turned the U.S. away from a future with the Paris Agreement. I ranted and cursed and shouted and broke inside.

If the leader of the land I love is able to steer a nation away from environmental protection then what’s the point? What difference can I make with my camera and my words and my love for a sick land?

Aldo Leopold said, “One of the penalties of an ecological education is that one lives alone in a world of wounds. Much of the damage inflicted on land is quite invisible to laymen. An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

Thinking about it, my situation is no different from exactly what he defined with his writing. By knowing what I know and learning about the land, I see much more wrong with our relationship with nature than common knowledge covers.

In this fashion, I feel the pain of the land as we deface it and scar the surface. I feel sadness and regret and helplessness in the face of this great adversity.

So, as with all things, I turned to the world for an answer.

Good forestry and ecological management is based off knowing the land and the trees. Black Ash is also known as the “Basket Tree” because it’s characteristic strength and flexibility easily translate into strips of wood to wrap as baskets. Studies have shown repeatedly that Black Ash forests that live nearby communities who still are basket makers are environmentally healthier than trees left on their own.

How? How is that possible?

Well, when a Black Ash tree is cut, two things happen.

One, the light filtering down from the newly opened area in the canopy allows forest floor flora to flourish thus prompting extensive biodiversity.

Two, the Black Ash, like the head of a hydra, will overgrow more shoots to replace the one cut resulting in multiple young trees from the scarred base of one stump.

The Black Ash reminded me that although we may have been cut out from the legs, we must renew our vows to protect the land we love at all costs.

It’s a setback, a large one, but it only serves to further my resolve.

Mother Nature needs warriors to take up their pens and cameras and microphones.

We are her voice.

Nature doesn’t need to sink under pressure if the people defending it do not sink either.

We can be strong.

We will change the world.

I started this blog mostly intending it to be a medium in which to document my own view of the world but also to prompt outdoor recreation. As I became more involved and my inherent voice began to grow more used and proud, I find myself promoting a relationship with the outdoors in whichever way you or I see fit for our own lives. Incorporating aspects of the natural world into our day to day functions will help us better understand our place within the environment.

Whether you find a connection through fishing and the water flowing downstream or a garden on your windowsill, the relationships we promote with the land help us find our place within it.

There is no right or wrong way to experience mother nature and we cannot truly be expected to all grow our own food and go hiking and camping on every whim, however, it is not hard to begin with small changes.

Do some birdwatching by installing a birdfeeder and testing what seed brings what birds.

Take a walk through a park and try to identify the kinds of plants that erupt from the nearby sidewalk.

It’s the little things that translate into something bigger.

Oftentimes I forget that I don’t have to do everything. It is not my sole responsibility to make proper environmental stewards out of the world’s people. In fact, I probably do less than the average nature lover. I don’t always shorten my shower or eat less meat. I fail to recycle every bottle and a zero waste existence is far from my future.

Yet I’m doing this here. I try to live life by environmental ideals and maybe someday I’ll reach a point where my impact makes less of a dent.

All we can do, all anyone can do without working for the woods is do their best to make the slight changes to life or simply their attitude. I wasn’t born with this passion as it is now. My parents gave it to me on camping trips and hikes when I was old enough to walk and by continuing to see and seek what the natural world represents, I gradually fell in love with the mountains and trees and fresh water in the streams.

Like any relationship, it’s an ongoing process of give and take and learning about one another.

Though we are slated to leave the Paris Agreement, mayors and governors around the U.S. have vowed to continue to uphold the path to clean energy and it is in this resiliency that we can grow productively towards the future. It’s simply a grassroots response to the direction of clean energy. What once was a large scale global response to the environment has simply traded hands to the people of our great nation.

It’s as I said before, it’s the small changes in thought and action that we as people can uphold which will continue to support the health of the natural world. We need not the support of the government but the support of the people that are governed.

That is us.

We are the change.





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