Jeff Smith noon, March 8
- Community Blog
- From 4220 feet:
Does this sound trashy?
There is a breed of bird that is slowing down reproduction on the Galapagos Islands which lines it up for extinction. Who cares? Well, here's how it works...
About a hundred and fifty years ago, an explorer named Charles Darwin visited these islands on a ship named The Beagle. He discovered so many unknown species of plants and animals that he created a firestorm of interest in these mysterious islands that continues to burn. Today, trips out of Lima, Peru (the closest port) exploration tours are common and filled to the max.
Researchers visit this area and take home specimens that have never been seen or recorded before. But, with all that interest, a problem has surfaced. So many tourists visit the area and leave trash on the beaches that ants have begun to infiltrate the area. Those same ants are stinging and hampering the survival of the baby birds that live in the area.
It sounds inane that something so careless as littering could obliterate a species but here it is, in living color, recorded by scientists who don't know how to stop the damage.
On the other side of the globe, I witnessed another spectacle of man. In 1982, I was on a visiting scholar program and attending Oxford University, I took a taxi, then a train, then a bus to visit Stonehenge. At that point, you could walk among those humongous rock sculptures and feel their energy.
Ten years later, I revisited those same rocks and the area was roped off. Graffiti had been painted on one of the rocks. Taggers had hit the historical sites created by Druid priests (allegedly) centuries ago as an ancient calendar.
What does it take to infuse the Native American attitude that emphatically says to leave an area the same way you found it. From the aboriginals in Australia to the Masaai tribes in Africa, the theme remains the same. We are not here to disturb the earth.
And yet, we do. After a full month of effort, I picked up all the trash along the road leading up to my mother's house. For only a mile or road, it took me the entire month to clear the amassment of beer cans, liquor bottles, cigarette packages, etc., that lined the drive up to her property.
Do people think this trash will absorb? Disappear? Get blown away. I can't imagine looking at it every day which is why I chose to spend the time to pick it up. I don't mind doing it because it eases my mind of the thought that we can be so reckless if we don't pay attention.
So many of us are lost in the belief that littering is a nothing in the scale of things. I get that. I've been there. But, once you return to humanity, try to think what it would be like if everyone behaved as you do. Scary, huh ?
I'm not condemning, condoning or trashing us (pardon the pun.) I'm just asking that we stay aware and alive as it pertains to our immediate surroundings. Leave a space in better shape than you found it. Sounds simple.
I'm on our side, even when we are lost.