Protecting our parks

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The world of Dr. Seuss’ fictional story “The Lorax” has often been viewed as an unrealistic dystopia, but as the Earth’s resources continue to be depleted at a rate that not even the vast renewable power of nature can keep up with, it is becoming reality. The story depicts the global implications of exploiting natural, public resources for seemingly endless private gain, a concept widely known as the Tragedy of the Commons. This concept is prevalent in the United States, but a solution to lessen its potential damage is to preserve and protect land from human activity, such as implementing national parks.

The National Park Service was formed in 1916 to safeguard and take care of the national parks. There are now 58 national parks in the United States, which comprise a part of the near 500,000 square miles of protected land in the United States.

Photo credit by Free from Wix

National parks are a necessary reminder of the Earth’s beauty and the reality of the human race’s guest presence on this Earth. Along with the aesthetic benefits, park ecosystems are often safe zones for endangered and threatened species within the United States. Acadia National Park holds most of Maine’s rare plant species, with at least one rare plant found in each wetland within the park. Biscayne National Park holds many protected marine species such as the green sea turtle, sperm whale, pillar coral and Florida manatee. Each of these species fills an important niche within their ecosystem, therefore contributing to the health and stability of their ecosystem and those surrounding as well. The collapse of these species could further affect global environmental health and services provided by nature, such as oxygen production and carbon cycling.

Although national parks are protected areas by law, regulated practices such as logging, mining, grazing and hunting are allowed on most of their premises. The fact that these environmentally-unfriendly activities are allowed in areas that reportedly serve to advocate for the opposite exemplifies the ever-present prevalence of resource exploitation due to human greed and a lack of understanding that the human race cannot maintain homeostasis without the very land that they are exploiting.

Businesses have a stronghold on the fate of the earth’s well-being due to continuous lobbying by special interests to support environmental deregulation. Natural resources serve as beneficial to the economy and our everyday activities, such as driving cars or taking showers. The mining and agricultural industries in America have provided valuable jobs and economic benefits. The ideas of people searching for economic pro t are justifiable in the perspective of using American resources to further our economy and decrease dependence on foreign resources. But measures must be taken to limit these actions because of the long-term rami cations they hold when it comes to the health of not only the national but global environment as well. It is important to keep this in mind, because uni cation and collaboration between environmentalists and businesspeople is essential in determining the future of this planet.

Death Valley, California. Photo credit by Sami Welsh

The catch-22 is that the human race depends on the services provided by nature, but nature is often depleted by the actions of humans. It is important to set aside personal agendas and focus on discovering the most efficient ways to utilize and care for the earth by implementing the collaboration between environmentalists and businesspeople. It is impossible to eliminate the human instinct of greed from Earth’s inhabitants, but it is vital to focus on shifting the totalitarian mindset that humans hold over the planet to one of a peaceful and respectful coexistence with nature, and implementing and protecting national parks is a way to begin confidently down that path.


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