Confessions of a Tree Hugger
Confessions of a Tree Hugger
The environment wasn’t near the top of my “most important” list when I was younger. It is near the top now because of the deterioration of our environment that I have witnessed. I moved to Pinellas County, Florida in 1971. Pinellas County is a peninsula that separates Tampa Bay from the Gulf of Mexico. When I moved here you could go to Bellaire causeway with a cast net and with a few casts you could get enough mullet to feed a family of four for a week. During breeding season horseshoe crabs were so thick that walking on the causeway beach was difficult. There was sea grass thriving in the water just of the causeway. Catching blue crab required a net and some chicken neck. Wading just a few feet off shore would get you catfish, sea trout, grunts, sheepshead, and any number of strange creatures that I never saw back in Kansas.
Just offshore in the Gulf of Mexico there was Tarpon, Kingfish, Mackerel, or whatever was running with the season. Shrimpers mined the bay waters for some of the biggest juiciest shrimp I had ever seen. The sea grass was filled with scallop and digging for clams always resulted in a tasty treat. It was a paradise.
Long time residents told me stories about tropical fish under the St. Petersburg pier and water so clear you could see the bottom at 20 feet. In 1971 the tropical fish were gone and the water was a bit cloudy. But that didn’t register with me. All I saw was a beautiful place with lots of wildlife.
Today you can still go to Bellaire causeway and it looks like paradise but cast a net and the mullet are gone. I haven’t seen a horseshoe crab for years. Blue crab are hard to find. There are no shrimpers in the Bay. The sea grass is coming back because of tremendous effort on the part of environmentalist. You have to drive north to the next county to find scallop. In a few short years I have seen a beautiful paradise lost.
I have seen the same deterioration on Don Pedro Island which is 90 miles south of Tamps Bay on the Gulf of Mexico and only accessible by boat. When we first started going there the water was clear and we saw young barracuda in the mangroves along the bay side of the island. Now the water is cloudy and we haven’t seen a barracuda for years. Look around, you will see the same thing in your area of the world. It is not isolated and it is not sustainable.
The cause is overpopulating the area, building too many houses, bulldozing away the natural environment, polluting the water with runoff and sewage and ruining a paradise for profit. This is not some jungle thousands of miles away. This is not an oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. This is where we live. This is the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. I am not a scientist but I have seen and experienced the damage we are doing to our environment. What is going on where I can’t see it? If we continue to cut down forests, destroy mountains, pollute rivers and waterways, eliminate species, and waste the earth’s resources, where will we be in another 40 years?
When profit is the only goal then conservation is a bad idea. It cost money to be responsible. So being responsible is a bad idea. The earth’s resources are finite. What will you do when clean water is not available in your area? What will your children do?
The Earth is our home. It is way too important to leave in the hands of politicians and corporations.
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