A valuable lesson I learned over years as a reporter in writing about the environment is that to see is not always to understand. Crystal clear water can be severely polluted, and verdant woods can be a tree farm that bears little comparison to a healthy, diverse forest.
To understand what’s really happening, you need research. And what such research reveals can be spectacular. Especially when you realize that because of nature’s amazing resiliency, great damage done to ecological systems can sometimes be undone through relatively simple steps.
Mahatma Gandhi is famously quoted as saying that, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” By that standard, the United States often falls short, especially if you judge us by the factory farms providing so much of our meat.
But good and evil are often neither black or white. As in most judgments, you need to exercise some, well, judgment.
In that light, some recent actions by the uber animal – us – have put us in a pretty good light. At least, it bodes well for the people involved.
As a community, we tend to mark the passage of time through memorable events whose impacts are as powerful mentally as they are physically. Just as the memory of the great hurricanes of 1906, 1916 and 1926 imprinted itself on past generations of Pensacolians, many of us today will carry the marker of Hurricane Ivan in 2004 for the rest of our lives.
Given that I’m known for going off on rants about the perceived evils of technology, fairness compels me to also note how sometimes technology can enhance even the experience of the natural world.
This past Saturday brought us a classic fall Northwest Florida day. The decidedly low-tech mechanical barometer on the dining room wall, and the old-fashioned liquid-filled thermometer on the porch told the story: high pressure, low humidity, temperatures in the upper 40s and rising under a crystal-clear and limitless blue sky. Gentle sunshine bathed the landscape.