Someone once commented to Neil Young that his songs all seemed to sound the same. He replied that “It’s all one song.”
Well, if Neil Young can admit that his music (and perhaps his life) is “all one song,” I think it’s acceptable for me to say that ours is all one planet, one ecosystem, even one back yard. Where Mr. Young’s knee bone is connected to his elbow bone, which is connected to his picking finger, which is connected to his lyrics, then, similarly, the Arctic ice floes are connected to the African savannahs, which are connected to the Patagonia Glaciers which are connected to the Panamanian Rainforest. (And all of that is connected to my knee bone.)
Unfortunately, that means that the bad things that happen to one area of the planet immediately affect another area. It’s true: remove any element of an ecosystem and you can sit and watch other elements of that and other connecting ecosystems deteriorate and fall apart. A dammed river surely affects the river’s salmon. But the depletion of salmon affects the bears, which affects the berry bushes, which affects the bird life, and so on. It truly is endless and it makes you want to throw your hands in the air in defeat. My grandfather had two words for these sort of complicated and endlessly frustrating processes: “Oiy vay!”
And here’s the crazy part: It’s pretty much my fault.
As I sit here today in the unusually cold weather (3 degrees Fahrenheit here in Boulder, Colorado), I have my gas fireplace burning strong and my home heating turned up. I look around my house and I see three lights on. Come’on, Ben! Surely I can type with just one light, especially when I consider the well-being of the salmon and the bears and the birds, right? Well, I ain’t perfect (I did just get up and turn two lights off, lower the heat and put a jacket on) and I am a bit embarrassed about slacking off in my conservation efforts lately. In fact people like me – those who are ‘in the know’ — have a greater responsibility than those who are not yet aware of the problems our planet faces. Not only is it incumbent upon us to act more responsibly in regards to the environment (after all, we’re ‘in the know’), it is incumbent upon us to educate our family and friends and neighbors.
For better or for worse, I’m afraid that it is, in fact, all one song… and one planet. Yup, and there’s a lot of work to do.
Thanks for listening!
Founder & Director
Natural Habitat Adventures