Thursday, July 1, 2010

It's not just BP - we're all to blame...

One of the good things about nieces and nephews is the disruption to routine (It's also one of the bad things if you have tons of work to do!). Simply put, my need to work got trumped by their need to not be bored. So yesterday, around about mid-morning, we headed out to Alderman's Ford State Park where natural Florida is all over the place and most of the hiking is in the shade.

Scout came along for the fun and her nose worked overtime. The Florida swamp aromas just about overwhelmed her size 14 honker, and if it weren't for the leash I believed she'd have followed it into the jungle and still be there this morning.

The Real Florida:
It's easy to miss Florida's unique signature when your days are confined to paved roads, air conditioned homes, billboard dominated cityscapes and cookie-cutter theme parks.

When Rebekah and I were first dating we swam in Blue Springs, hiked around Hontoon Island, paddled canoes on the St. John's River and camped in the Ocala National Forest. I learned to love the unique combination of swamp, jungle, dense vegetation and exotic foliage: heavy with humidity; teeming with life; potent; redolent; brimming; loaded; almost nascent, primordial, rich.

We could feel the presence of thousands of lifeforms, barely below the surface and - coming from England - it felt just a tad dangerous. Snakes dropping into the canoe (it's a long story!). Alligator eyes just above the surface. I always felt that there was more happening within a few feet of me than I wanted to know, both in the water and in the jungle - and I was probably right.

State Park:
So just a brief trek into the real Florida, pointing things out to Sarah and Jared, feeling Scout strain at her leash, was enough to put things back into perspective, and to remind me of how critically important it is that we take good care of this amazing resource.

And we're not doing so well. We allow economic pressures to dictate environmental policy and we shoot ourselves in the foot time and again. If we lose Florida then what would be the point of all the shortcuts and the compromises we made so the road to destruction would be easier to build?

"Well BP didn't blow that well on purpose..." No, of course not... but a policy of greed made it a great likelihood.

"And we didn't pave over the entire state of Florida because we hated nature..." Well, no, but what we are doing is demonstrating a priority that values short term profit over long term integrity.
  • If you build an access road far enough into a jungle then one day the jungle is gone...
  • If you build enough stuff on a barrier island then it's no longer a barrier island...
  • If you build too many houses on beachfront property, then one day you wake up and there's no beach.
And so it goes.
  • If we insist on making it too easy to build new homes and businesses in Florida, and with scant regard for what makes Florida unique, then one day we're going to find that all we have anymore is businesses and homes... and that Florida has simply gone away.
It's not just BP. We're all to blame.

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