The Big Picture Perspective:
December, 6th 2010
The Big Picture Perspective
When I was fourteen I got my first job as a barista at a small coffee shop. I remember feeling so grown up and so responsible for working and making my own money. I tried to work as many hours as I could, so that I could have my own money for my own things. After working there for about six months my dad said to me, “Blair, don’t grow up too fast, you have to be an adult for an awfully long time”; initially I thought, Of course I want to grow up, I hate being a teenager. Now looking back at that moment as an adult, I see what he meant. My dad was trying to give me a glimpse at the bigger picture of my life, and I couldn’t see it. In a lot of ways, I think many of us refuse to see that bigger picture, whether you’re 15 years old or 51 years old. In the following body I hope to elaborate on our societal tendency to look at short term effects on the environment, verses the big picture of factual past and present devastations to our lands.
In the United States of America we are blessed to have an agency known as the Bureau of Land Management as well as many other environmental government agency that ensure proper use of land to maintain a sustainable society. These agencies have the responsibility of overseeing public lands to preserve healthy, diverse and productive land for generations to come. The Bureau of Land Management helps our government maintain a long term perspective, in other words the big picture, of land conservation. Not only do they diversify land use but they also manage the wild and naturally present species that dwell in these publicly owned regions. Maintaining public lands and regulating some privately owned lands will assist in preservation which is beneficial for future generations as well as for our present day society.
Environmental regulations are essential for preserving the beautiful world around us. There are many examples of how environmental regulations have aided the quality of our life and agricultural needs. In our text, Environment: the science behind the stories, there are many stories of devastations that have developed due to the lack of regulations; like that of the 1992 case of Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council. Though this is a hot debate amongst many constitutionalists, this case brings to light some painful truths of why we need regulations. Though Lucas’ argument of losing out, economically speaking is quite true, the possibility for the devastation that comes with eroding land, and houses for that matter, is much more financially and ethically damaging (Withgott & Brennan, 2008).
Another story that caught my eye was that of the historical “Dust Bowl” event in the early 1930’s. Many people, myself included, don’t often realize how damaging our acts are on the world around us. Humankind loves to view the world as a resilient and indestructible mass of resources; unfortunately, it is not.
“Between 1879 and 1929, cultivated area in the region soared from around [12 million acres] to [100 million acres]. Farmers grew abundant wheat, and ranchers grazed many thousands of cattle, sometimes expanding onto unsuitable land. Both types of agriculture contributed to erosion by removing native grasses and breaking down soil structures” (Withgott & Brennan, 2008, p. 246).
The 1930 drought intensified the already eroding lands in the southern great plains of America. Human impact coupled with the drought and the regions strong winds, an average of 4 inches of topsoil was removed from this agricultural region. Enhanced crop production and grazing cattle for slaughter was the primary short-term focus of farmers in the Dust Bowl region. Today, government regulations and incentives help farmers maintain soil integrity for sustainable land use.
In closing, government agencies that regulate today’s human impact to insure future population survival is a necessity for our world, let alone our country. I see little difference in the regulations of land and that of what my father was trying to say to me so many years ago. Just focusing on the here and now financial gain is often a regretful road to travel; life is too good and too short to succumb to a monetary world.
Withgott, J., & Bennan, S. (2008). Enviroment: The Science Behind the Stories (3rd ed.). New York. Pearson Benjamin Cummings. ISBN: 13