The Everglades National Park
FIU IDH 4007

Mother Nature's Future in the Wrong Hands

Christina Pope
IDH 4007
Fall Semester 2004

   As the airboat came to a stop and the loud engine ceased, the driver began his narration about the Everglades. At first I listened intently making sure to take in every piece of information that the tour guide gave us about the Everglades. After a few minutes, however, my eyes and ears began to wander away from the tour guide as they focused in on the beauty and peacefulness of the Everglades that surrounded me. I was by no means bored by the tour guide's talk. Rather, I was taken in by something much larger than you or I: Mother Nature. As I retreated into my own world, I could only hear the quietness of the Everglades.

   Looking around me, seeing nothing but miles of water, trees, and grass, I was in awe of this treasure that lay just outside of one of the largest urban centers in the United States; Miami. How is it possible that such an amazing form of Mother Nature could exist outside such a noisy and busy area? The answer was a bit foggy to me but I did recall learning about the Everglades as a protected natural area and a National Park. Even though I knew that what I saw in front of me was somehow protected at this current time, my eyes began to water up a bit. As I fought back the emotions, I realized why such sadness had come over me. At that moment, as I looked at the vastness of the Everglades, there was only one thought that crossed my mind: this amazing piece of Mother Nature may not exist in a few years. All at once I was angered by this thought until suddenly the loud engine of the airboat turned back on and we continued on our trip through the Everglades. I had decided that while we were still on the trip I was not going to think about what could come of the Everglades. Instead, I concentrated on what the Everglades is today and enjoying the serenity of it all.

   Later on that evening during dinner, I shared my experience of the airboat tour through the Everglades with my family. I was so excited about the first day of class and the anticipation of the next class. After dinner while I was in my room listening to my music re-calling the day, my thoughts wandered back to the anger I felt when thinking about what may come of the Everglades and other natural areas like it. As much as I avoided coming to the topic of politics, I could not help but think about how different the environment could have been over the past four years if more pro-environment voters had taken their places at the booths in the 2000 Presidential election. Then I began to realize how the future of this nation's natural areas, such as the Everglades, could potentially be voted into the wrong hands again if we do not begin to take a stand to vote for someone who will protect our environment.

   When talking to certain friends and relatives, I realize why our environment is in such danger of survival, and how leaders such as Bush count on the ignorance of followers such as those who simply make assumptions that are not supported by any considerable research about the environment. When I became angry about the thought of the possible disappearance of the Everglades in the future, I became angry because of what I have heard others say in regards to the environment. I once was having a discussion with two people very close to me on the need for increased protection of the environment when I heard one of the most absurd and disturbing comments. As I was explaining how Bush has backed down on laws protecting trees in areas such as California, and how this is a huge detriment to our future and the environment, one of them said "Oh Christina, don't worry about the trees. There are always going to be plenty of trees because there are so many out there." In that one moment, my faith in the future of our environment was almost destroyed simply because I realized how misinformed and ignorant so many people are on this topic. There are many reasons for this ignorance including the influence of politicians, the lack of media on environmental issues, and most importantly the lack of interest and research done by the average person; ourselves. I then continued my discussion on Bush's environmental policies and other policies that have disabled this nation in more ways than one. The next topic that was brought up was the need for protection against terrorism and how Bush is fulfilling that duty. Once again, I came to another realization. I had always wondered how it was so easy for Bush to get away with all of the crimes against the environment that he has committed without anyone really making a huge to-do about it. My question was then answered. Bush has taken the events of 9/11 and the war on terrorism to such an extreme that he has blinded many Americans from all of the other important issues that are affecting us here at home, including the protection of this nation's natural areas. By constantly aiming the focus of Americans' concerns and fears on the war against terrorism, Bush has been able to easily remove many laws protecting the environment leading to a dismal future for this nation's natural areas such as the Everglades. All of this just so he can protect big business.

   What Bush and others do not realize is that once there has been a huge loss to the environment and the natural areas have been destroyed, it is nearly impossible, if at all possible, to restore those areas to what they once were. Has anyone ever considered the affects on our health from not protecting the environment? An article in Sierra's Clubs 2004 September/October magazine gave some startling facts about this issue: the number of premature deaths caused each year by pollution from coal-burning power plants in the U.S. alone is 24,000; the number of nonfatal heart attacks caused each year by pollution from coal-burning plants also in the U.S. alone is 38,200, and the estimated number of Americans that get sick each year after swimming in waters polluted by sewage and storm-water runoff is 1,800,000. Are these figures not enough for people to finally begin protecting the environment? Are the lives of Americans and the protection of this nation's environment not important enough for Bush to at least keep into play the laws that were put into place by Clinton and other presidents in order to protect the environment? Unfortunately, for Bush and many other business loving citizens, it is not.

   As my thoughts continue going round and round in circles about all of these issues concerning the environment and our future, I decided to sit down and use my first journal entry for IDH 4007 as a vehicle to express my intense opinions and feelings towards the need for more protection of our natural areas and the Everglades. Even though I have realized as I am writing that this may reach the eyes of only just a few people, it is better than sitting quietly and allowing the destruction of the Everglades and other natural areas to occur without my voice being heard. One could say that today's class in the Everglades has sparked a fuse inside of me that was always there but was just waiting to be lit.

   I would like to close this journal entry by giving a timeline of events that start from the beginning of Bush's presidency up until the current time concerning decisions made about the environment. I believe that what one will make of these events will determine if Mother Nature's future lies in the wrong or right hands.

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