Travel Long Enough, And You'll Learn to Appreciate Nature
It’s a curious thing how when I first set out on my adventure I wanted to meet and discover different people, and gain a better understanding of their way of life. I think many long-term travelers will agree with me when I say that this gets old pretty quickly. People can be a bore. Yet a common thread amongst those with a tinge of wanderlust is an increased appreciation for the natural world and the role that humans play in it.
I was raised in a city. We didn’t go camping growing up, and I never learned to fish. I’m not broken up about this fact; it’s simply that the world of outdoorsmen is one that is relatively new to me. I know many people that wouldn’t think twice of spending an entire summer’s day indoors, largely because they don’t like being outside. I dig my fair share of cozy, indoor relaxing time—believe me. But on the flip side, I also really appreciate the beauty of nature and being outdoors—in the past few years, I’ve had a desire to see more of the world itself, rather than meeting the people that live there.
As a city-dweller, I had no real grasp of how the natural world played into my life; how resources were acquired from across the world just to be manufactured into the goods, products, and services that I consumed, and still consume, on a daily basis. It’s difficult to have a holistic understanding of the management of our natural resources, but it all boils down to one question: should we manage our planet and its resources responsibly, or irresponsibly? This is a question that we have a duty to think about because we affect our environment in ways that other species can’t even fathom, and on a scale much larger than even we can imagine.
I’m not preaching a back-to-our-roots approach to living here—I’m in full support of harvesting the resources of the earth to make life better for everyone—but I’m not in favor of doing so blindly. We have to be consumers, and consequently, citizens, that are aware of the consequences of our actions and know that there are externalities to our consumption that are not reflected in the bottom line.
In many cases, preservation is an appropriate approach to our land. No one wants to see managed responsibly as we cut down trees for lodges in the surrounding area. But as our population grows, and we see more and more destruction leveled upon the earth, we need to recognize that our precious land should be used responsibly and sustainably so that it’s here for years to come. It’s one of the main reasons why the mission of the National Park Service to “preserve unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations” is so important.
Here in America, we take it for granted that we have so much wide, open space. Hundreds of National Parks, completely preserved for the viewing pleasure of the public and the survival of their eco-systems is not a worldwide phenomenon. We should celebrate the fact that we have the infrastructure and resources to devote to the keeping of some of our most iconic landscapes for future generations, and take the time to explore, appreciate, and learn about the natural wonders that abound in our great country.