I woke up before the morning light could penetrate the trees around me. As I shivered underneath multiple layers of clothing I made tea over a dying fire. Within minutes my family was overlooking Bryce Canyon as the sun rose over it, changing colors every few minutes. As I looked into the ever-changing canyon I made plans to bring my children there one day, so they could see it and be amazed the same way I was.
For over two weeks my family traveled through nine national parks and camped every night, making all of our meals over fires, feeling the power of nature around us; we were completely at the mercy of a rain storm which could ruin our campsite, or a strong gust of wind which could knock us over the edge of a cliff. We took the chances because the experience was worth it. Throughout this trip my love for the world around me intensified and I thought constantly about making this trip again, and continuing throughout my life to experience nature in this personal way. I grew increasingly worried about the effects of our modern world on the nature surrounding me. I worried about returning to these places to reexperience the beauty, only to find destruction.
I have grown up with the consciousness of sustainability and appreciation for nature. When I was four my step mother came into my life: she camps almost every single weekend and is the epitome of a nature-loving hippie. She has instilled in me the love of nature, and the paranoia of its looming destruction. This paranoia is not unprecedented: the average sea level is predicted to rise 1 to 4 feet in less than 100 years, and our current rate of temperature increase puts up to 35 percent of plant and animal species at increased risk of extinction (National Wildlife Federation: “Fast Facts About Climate Change”).
At age 12 I traveled with my step mother to the Redwood Forest where her friend lives, and I worried about its magnificent beauty being destroyed for paper, along with the Amazon and a million other forests around the world. There are about 18 million acres of forest destroyed every year (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)), over the last twenty years Afghanistan has lost over 70% of its forests, and in the world there is a deforestation rate of 20 football fields every minute (Conserve Energy Future: “51 Facts About Deforestation”).
My friends tease me for being so paranoid about the depletion of the earth’s resources until there is nothing left to give- but there is good reason to be worried, and I want to make sure that everyone knows it. I want everyone to experience nature the way I have through camping and exploration, and to realize what we really have to lose. I want my children and their children to be able to wake up in the middle of a forest, surrounded by nature, with no sign of civilization and modern technology.
As President Donald J. Trump is threatening to eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States government, my worry is multiplied. We live in a country driven by capitalist greed and the corporations who control this system have no regard for nature. If exploiting nature has an economic benefit to these corporations, they will do it without a second thought. The EPA was the only system in place to keep the economic aspect of America from mindlessly destroying the natural, literal aspect. And I’m scared.