Last weekend while on a family visit, my grandma, friend, and I decided to walk a popular forest trail that I hadn’t been on in a couple of years. When we reached the end of the trail, I stood in disbelief. It wasn’t actually the end, not the end that I reached hundreds of times walking the trail as a child, but a metal fence plastered with warning signs preventing further entry. I still feel the disbelief I had in that moment looking through the links of the fence at the clear-cut trees which are making way for a subdivision. All I could think was, “Do they not understand what they’ve done?”
With the problem of our disconnection from the natural world there’s a good chance people don’t realize how detrimental clearcuts like this can be.
Defining our Future
This week on Transatlantic Notes, Molly starts her post Understanding How Climate Action Redefines Our Future by saying: “The decisions we make now will impact our future.” It feels like common sense, but when it comes to our natural world, it also feels like we take this for granted.
This Transatlantic Notes post is a part of our Climate Change Collective series, through which a group of environmentally minded bloggers are trying to keep climate change at the top of people’s minds. In this series, one blogger writes a topical post and the Climate Change Collective participants write a response to their post, sharing thoughts or more information on the topic. Learn more about our Climate Change Collective at the end of this post and find our first in the series here: Climate Change Collective–What You Can Do.
Consequences of our Actions
In her post, Molly addresses the ripple effects that our actions have on our environment and climate change. This is one of the first things I think about when I see developments like the one on my beloved nature trail. I’m not saying that development should not happen. I understand the realities of growing communities and populations.
What cannot be ignored, however, is that growing communities and new subdivisions will have an impact on our world. What type of impact they have needs to be considered.
The most obvious destruction seen is that of the trees being cut down. The problem arises when it isn’t just any trees or plants that are getting disturbed. The area of trail that I visited hosts a grand fir/dull Oregon grape ecosystem, which is listed on the Red List in British Columbia.
Simply from experience, I can tell you that these plants provide for their surroundings by offering an abundance of food and shelter. Once they are gone, what will be there to take their place? As we’ve seen with the Monarch Butterfly, specific plants are essential for our planet. The milkweed plant, which is the plant Monarch Butterfly larvae feed on, is being destroyed by both our changing climate and developments.
In British Columbia, Old Growth forests are constantly in danger of being cut down. Tree planting is wonderful and great to see as we can always use more trees in our world, but the reality is that older growth trees are more beneficial to our planet. Old growth trees are more able to withstand changing climates than young trees and older growth trees store more carbon than their younger counterparts.
From large predators to small scavengers, animal life is impacted during any developments that impede upon our forests. We see this a lot in British Columbia with bears and cougars. Bears enter many of our communities every summer and remind us that their lives have been disrupted by our choices.
540 black bears are killed on average every year in British Columbia. Not only are we disrupting their food sources and their homes, but we are also systematically killing them when they wander into our communities looking for sustenance. The reasoning behind this is that bears who become dependent on garbage for food are not suitable for relocation.
Cougars are also regularly destroyed by conservation officers in BC when the animals come into communities.
Our choices to build into these animals’ homes are resulting in them wandering into ours, which in turn results in the death of those animals.
Our disconnection from the natural world can lead us to think the destruction of our forests does not really impact us directly. Phrases like “climate change” can be so big and hard to wrap our minds around sometimes that it’s easy to distance ourselves from the reality of it.
The scary reality is, though, that we are dramatically impacted by the small changes in our environments.
The loss of the milkweed plant leads to an endangered Monarch Butterfly as I mentioned before. The Monarch Butterfly is a pollinator, which then threatens the life of other plants and food we could depend on.
The loss of our forests through clear-cutting and developments leads to a destabilization of our landscapes. This destabilization leads to severe flooding and destruction of property with heavy rainfalls.
Our Disconnection from the Natural World
As disconnected as we want to be sometimes, this disconnection from the natural world is not something we can continue to ignore. In fact, it’s something that will become frighteningly apparent if we don’t pay attention. Our actions effect the plants and animals around us and in turn effect our lives.
There is no Planet B. We need to start changing the way we think about the world and how we interact with it. We need to reconnect with nature and remember the value and importance of it. I’m feeling desperate in this moment because the continued destruction of our planet feels like it’s moving so fast.
When we were at the beach, my 92-year old grandma saw a family with a newborn and wondered aloud, “I wonder what the world will be like when that little one is my age.” I couldn’t answer because it was a fearful thought, but at the same time I believe we can make changes and slow the impact of our presence on this planet.
In addition to the links Molly lays out through her post (and her blog in general), I have four ways to take action in this post: How Your Actions Help the Planet.
But to start, I encourage you to get outside into nature and reconnect with the beauty of it. Think about the importance of the natural world around you and let it inspire you to create positive change for our planet.
About the Climate Change Collective
The Climate Change Collective was born out of an exchange that took place between Michelle and Jamie in the comments section of a Jamie Ad Stories blog post. Jamie and Michelle both care deeply about the impact of human activity on our planet and wanted to find a way to keep the climate change message top of mind for everyone. A tweet was sent out, bloggers responded, and we’ve all now teamed up to create the Climate Change Collective!
The idea is simple. The members of the collective will take turns writing a monthly blog post sharing their concerns and unique perspective about climate change. After the post is published, the rest of the group will keep the conversation going by sharing a link to the post on their blogs along with their thoughts and ideas. If you’re a like-minded blogger and would like to join our collective, please get in touch. The more the merrier!
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