A sea turtle glides through the lively coral reefs. The markings on its back create a sharp contrast with the crystal sand below us, unflinching as its fin clips my bare ankle. The turtle knows it is safe as it explores the protected reef, “Hens and Chickens,” just off the coast of Islamorada in the Florida Keys. Although protected in this small section of the reef, this turtle becomes subject to hardships elsewhere, many being at the hands of people.
Humans have acquired the power to significantly alter the changing world around us. We have contaminated the world’s oceans, streams, air, and forests, resulting in a loss of biodiversity globally. We have gained the power to halt the earth’s history of interaction between the living and the nonliving. Becoming subject to our growing industrialization and colonization, in turn, decimating the natural environment as we know it. As Albert Schweitzer once put it, “Man can hardly even recognize the devils of his own creation.” We have forgotten what it means to be stewards of the earth. We have been disconnected from nature in a society deeply embedded in technology and materialism, in a society focused on affluence and greed.
The coyotes that ravage the land, the bighorn sheep that scale the barren cliffs, the moose and buffalo that roam the planes, these creatures forged our paths as one. These animals were the real pioneers of North America. The world was here before us, and it will be here after us. This means that we have an obligation to protect what is integral for sustaining a stable and even prosperous environment.
The creation of the National park system represents that silver of clarity and hope in preserving our nation’s wildlife. However, U.S national parks do not account for the rest of the world. In order to stimulate change, we must take the issue into our own hands. We can apply little changes in our individual lives such as recycling, avoiding the use of plastic, and cutting down on the use of water. We can also get involved in a local or state level to protect our oceans and our land. Once smaller victories have been won, as a society, we can then branch out and tackle larger issues that only the government will be able to solve.