A weekly blog for all things conservation
By: Kevin Brown
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Also, Happy Holidays to others who celebrate in other ways (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and others). It is a blessed time of year and I personally like to remind people that, for the most part, we actually have things pretty good. Typically, everything that we hear in the news is bad. Bad news makes better news stories. Yes, I know there are some of us out there that may be experiencing difficult times. However, most of us have it better than 90% of the people that live in the entire world. (I heard a quote from the guy on TV this morning that “we have it better than 99% of the people that have ever lived”.) Think about that for a minute. Longer life span, better medicines to get you through that longer life, not having to literally hunt for your next meal, having clean water, etc. If you go back in time far enough, the average lifespan was like 35 or 40 years. At that rate, 80% of the people reading this would no longer even be alive. That hurts, LOL.
I think we forget how good we have it sometimes. We get to “stewing in our own juices” about just how bad things are. I once read a book (Yea, I know. Imagine that, I read a book) called “Facts not Fear”. It was an interesting book about how the environment may not be in the shape that we want it in, but it is in far better shape than what it once was. We are now measuring things in like parts per trillion. That might be overdoing it just a bit.
Consider that in 1969, a river in Chicago caught fire. A RIVER! That is quite a feat, and not a good one at that. What on earth could cause a river to catch fire? We don’t have to worry about things like that anymore. Also, we once had acid rain in this area and sulfur was a big issue as it rained down on us. Today, in the world of agriculture, we are starting to see that we need to now start adding sulfur to our soils because the soil is now deficient in that nutrient. We have actually cleaned up the air enough that now we are not getting enough of a critical nutrient that we have to find other ways of adding it. The air is much cleaner than it was in the industrial revolution, and probably a lot cleaner than it is in other countries even today.
Trees are a great resource to have. They provide a lot of things needed by us- shade, shelter, using carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen, etc. I can’t remember the exact quote, but we now have more trees in the northeastern United States than we have had in like a century or more. Again, don’t quote me on it, but it has been a long time since we have had this many trees. If you are bored someday, go online and find aerial pictures of Bradford County like in the 50’s and 60’s (Penn Pilot, I think it was called). There almost isn’t a forest to be found. We had cut everything down for lumber and grazing reasons. We now have this great resource back.
Water in our streams and rivers are more fishable and swimmable than they have been in a very long time. The list goes on.
Let’s also not take for granted the freedoms that we have and the sacrifices made by our ancestors to get us to this place. Can you imagine no cell phones, no internet, having to worry about just where your next meal may be coming from, dictators telling you what you can and can’t do (or say), etc.
Yes, we should not be satisfied as to where we are, but we have also made some huge strides from where we have been. I have a coworker that I will quote. “Only wealthy people that have more resources than they need to live can afford to think about conservation and using what they have wisely.” If you are concerned about finding clean water, putting food on the table or a roof over your head, you don’t have the luxury to concern yourself with conservation. We do have that luxury, and we should be concerned with it, but there are many people who don’t. We live in a great country with a lot of resources at our disposal. Sometimes we need to remember just how good we have it.
Various staff at the Bradford County Conservation District