Confessions of a Tree Hugger

The north end of Don Pedro Island, Stump Pass
The north end of Don Pedro Island, Stump Pass
Don Pedro Island Beach
Don Pedro Island Beach
Seabird nesting area on Don Pedro Island
Seabird nesting area on Don Pedro Island


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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Comments 22 comments

GNelson profile image

GNelson 4 years ago from Florida Author

Hyphenbird,

It is a big problem but if each of us did a little more, like you are, it would help.


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 4 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

A great solution is to remodel and reuse existing buildings instead of building more and more. There are so many abandoned homes, hotels, etc. I am saddened about the harm we are doing to our planet. We humans are so wasteful and negligent. That is one reason I have become a minimalist and buy 95* of everything we wear at thrift stores and consignment shops.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

Don't forget real estate backed securities in the market and your 401k.


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

WD Curry 111, Exactly, we are distroying the environment. The finger canals were built to get more waterfront lots so more peoiple could live here.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

I didn't mean to be too gnarly. I am passionate about the subject. I grew up on Tampa Bay in St. Pete. We romped and fished on pristine white sand and eel grass flats. One day, they started dredging out finger canals and covered the flats with silt. I'll try to tone it down for more effect.


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

WD Curry 111,

I wouldn't put it quite the way you did but you are right. We better start paying attention and quit acting like we have another planet to move to when we use up this one.


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

Hey, I am from Florida. I know your pain. People out west need to get a clue. Get in line and take your mark corporate America. You're killing God's creation with Pre-fabalon. I don't think he likes it.

Call me a tree hugger . . . you concrete, steel and glass kisser.


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

attemptedhumour, I think most people would agree with you. I do. The environment has to be part of the equation as do each of us. I call it responsible capitalism.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Arguing about who caused the pollution isn't the point. Collectively doing something about it, without stifling business is what's required if we want to hand our kids a sustainable future. Acid rain was greatly reduced in Europe and the States by changing the manufacturing process. It can and needs to be tackled. NOW!


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

gryphin423, I still love the area. WE have some of the best beaches in the world. The people are great. We could use some forward thinking politicans, if their are any.


gryphin423 profile image

gryphin423 5 years ago from Florida

As a long term Pinellas resident I too have noticed the decline of our environment and the attempts to correct it.The only hope is to vote in politicians with a clue that have their eyes on the future, not just their political career and greed.The problem is a lot more complicated than to disallow people from moving here. That is a short-sighted viewpoint. It is a thought-provoking hub, thanks for sharing!


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

Brian, I liked your comment. Your right it is easy to ignore. It is also profitable to ignore so it is going to be hard to reverse.


Brian Burton profile image

Brian Burton 5 years ago

Wow, that was thought provoking. Thank you for going out on a limb and publishing such a good article. It's easy to ignore what is going on around us, but many of us appreciate the wake up calls and reminders.


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

attemptedhumour,

I don't have the answers and I have little faith that our elected officials will push real solutions. I know that the environment has gotten worse in my lifetime. I know we can't continue down that road. WE just elected a governor in Florida who thinks that companies shouldn't be required the clean the waterways that they pollute because regulations are bad for business. We elected a businessman and we will pay the price.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

"I didn't move to the planet earth. I was born here and so were you."

So too were all the people you're griping about. And did you know that while responsible, productive people have cut their birth rates to the point that they are not even replacing themselves, the irresponsible dependent types, are having babies at record rates, and on our dime! When the parasites outnumber the hosts, what then?

If you have evidence that fracking is in fact, polluting our water, produce it.


attemptedhumour profile image

attemptedhumour 5 years ago from Australia

Hi G Nelson, the environment is at the top of my priority list above the economy, and my kids future comes into that equation. A carbon tax was instigated by the current labour government against a lot of decention. The opposition have vowed to dismantle it if they win the the next election, so the problem has become a political football. I'm not a scientist either, but common sense tells me that the damage being caused will escalate unless something is done about it. Big business won't do a thing about it unless there is a buck in it for them. I don't know if a carbon tax will work, but i'm prepared to cough up in the hope that it does. We have solar power that helps the environment and means we have virtually no electricity bills. Time will tell and I'm pessimistic about the efforts being made, as short term policies don't help. This is a perfect example of how the world is changing. Cheers


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

I didn't move to the planet earth. I was born here and so were you. Your are 100% wrong about fracking. Florida is not an isolatid example. I see it when I go back to Kansas and Colorado. You can ignore it and so could I but our kids and grandkids deserve better.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

"Will, Are they fracking in Montana? They are in Colorado."

And there's not one shred of evidence that it has harmed any water supply.

In any case, you are one of those who moved to Florida and ruined it.

Right?


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

LouLa Ball, You got my point. The growing population is going to meet our dwindling resources and it will be too late. As far as I know Montana is not a separate Planet.


GNelson profile image

GNelson 5 years ago from Florida Author

Will, Are they fracking in Montana? They are in Colorado.


LouLa Ball profile image

LouLa Ball 5 years ago from Tennessee

I think that you did a fine job with this hub. We all have a right to live where we want to live. You seem to really care about your community and the changes that you have seen. I am sure that you do everything that you can to reduce your footprint effect. If you are still unhappy with the way things are then I would recommend getting involved for change. Be an activist for your cause to not only save the place you love now but for the enjoyment of future generations. A lot of us are not doing our part and taking forgranted that our earth will always supply us with what we need. Our earth can only take care of us to a certain extent. We have to put in a little elbow grease as well. Keep up the good work, don't give up, and thanks for caring.


WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

Why do people move to Florida? In fact, why did you move to Florida? If you think it's too crowded, move to Montana. Why blame profit and corporations for what YOU did?

Why is it always the other guy's fault, but not your fault?

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