Happy Independence Day to our American readers (which, according to Blogpost, is about 90% of you)!
The 4th of July is the day that we celebrate the United States of America. America is much more than 50 states (and DC... and Puerto Rico... and a few other territories). On this 4th of July, I would encourage readers to think of another America, an older America. An America which was here before the name "America." I am referring to wild America.
America is a land of cities and farmlands and suburubs, but it is also a land of prairie, forest, mountain, and wetland. It is home to some to the most extraordinary wildlife on the face of the planet; in fact, probably more diverse and abundant wildlife than any comparably developed nation in the world. It has had it's ecological scars and defeats - the loss of the passenger pigeon, the decline of the American bison, the eradication of large carnivores, the pollution of waterways and estuaries, to name a few.
It has, in recent years, also had it's triumphs. Gray wolves once again howl over the Yellowstone, and red wolves prowl the swamplands of North Carolina. Bald eagles, American alligators, and certain other species, once written off as doomed to extinction, are now practically common. Black-footed ferrets, California condors, and red wolves were once extinct in the wild and found only in zoos; now, they have been returned to the wild. The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has reported that, for the first time, the bay's aquatic health indicators are improving (not terrifically, but it is a step in the right direction). Amid the constant doom and gloom, rays of hope shine through.
Even after some hard times, the United States remains the most powerful nation on earth. America likes to think of itself as a global leader... it can be a global leader. Recently, President Barack Obama reaffirmed the US commitment to fighting global warming; in another statement, he promised American support to combat poaching in Africa. These are all positive words, but words require action to back them up. I hope it's forthcoming...
In the meanwhile, enjoy the 4th of July. As you are celebrating America, take some time to celebrate the other, original, wild America. It is beautiful, inspiring, majestic, and fragile. And it needs our help.