The first wintery weather of the season and the approaching end of the year, has left us with time to reflect upon the concerns we have been attempting to call attention to these past years. Our efforts started with specific concerns about the management of our valuable forest covered lands. 34 years of experience and observation had left me haunted with thought s of inadequate goals and objectives for the management of our remaining forestlands. Along with other natural resource managers, I was aware of concerns over our worldwide shrinking forest cover (deforestation), loss of worldwide water quality, air pollution and sustainability, thereby assuming new and improved science would provide for the future. With a strong desire to learn more about the current conditions and concerns, I initiated an effort to develop a deeper understanding of the natural world. It soon became evident our scientific and technological advancements provided the factual data to understand current conditions but, failed to identify the human impacts and relationships required to sustain life. Something was missing and that something was human beings and their values and attitudes. Looking back at the changes that have occurred during my adulthood, it is difficult to believe the significant adjustments that have taken place. High school graduation was 1956 and college 1960, followed by a career in forest land management. The first obvious change is the cost-of-living. One of the best measures of the inflation we have experienced is the value of an ounce of gold. In 1965, gold was $35.00 per ounce and today is $1250.00 per ounce. The goods and services you could purchase in 1965 for $35.00, today cost you $1250.00. Have wages kept pace with increased costs-of-living? The answer is depressing, as the facts show from 1960 to 1973 wages kept close to the increases in costs of goods and services however, from 1973 to the present wages have lagged far behind inflation. In fact, from 1980 to present wages for the average middle-class worker have remained relatively flat while the top 1% have experienced a 138% increase in wages, and CEO’s earn 296% more than the average worker.
The next big change has been the expanded percent of our population now living in urban areas. Our urban population since 1960 has more than doubled and our rural population today makes up only 19% of our total United States population. The transition from rural to urban life-styles has significantly impacted our society. The inequality of the distribution of wealth has resulted in urban families requiring both parents to work in order to have enough to provide for the family. Raising a family today frequently requires hiring child care outside the family with significant loss of time together for family activities. Even our education institutions have experienced major changes in the educational experiences for our children. Can you imagine what goes through a 5-year old’s mind when they are met at the door by a uniformed armed guard daily instead of the friendly face of their teacher? In 1960, music, athletics and other extra-curricular activities were part of the school week and transportation to and from the events was provided by the school. Today, parents have to commit their weekend time if their children are to participate in these extra-curricular activities. Yes, with both parents working, commuting, trying to do their best for their children and have a few minutes to themselves is constantly increasing the stress levels. There are only 168 hours in the week, of which we try to get at least 42 hours of sleep. One of the big changes that has resulted from this current lifestyle, is the fact that only 12% of our U S population attend church on a regular basis. Prioritization is required to avoid conflicts!
Another significant change has been in communications. We have moved from a think slow and methodical process, to a think fast process which is based on intuition and usually results in adjustments or do over. TV has convinced us major issues can be resolved in 30 minutes or at most 60 minutes. Cable news stations now struggle to fill 24 hours with news resulting in panels of analysts and specialists speculating on what might be the results of some current information or news. Due to time limits at home, people tend to accept this speculation as fact which frequently results in miss-information and poor decision-making. I believe our educational institutions need to expand the education process to help students develop an inquisitive mind in search of the facts. It is too convenient to simply google the information and assume it is accurate, thus the quest for facts seems to be of little concern today. What ever is reported in the media, available on google or stated by specialists appears to be acceptable for most people. For example, I have reviewed several environmental impact statements, prepared by young forest scientists, that relied upon textbook information with little to no knowledge or data about the site-specific area being evaluated for treatment. Nature’s Way demands methodical thinking and the extent of diversity is the measure of prefection!
My major concern is, these dramatic changes in our society has resulted in the loss of our appreciation for the knowledge of the natural world required for life. Our population has little time to even think about the relationships we share and require from our natural surrounding for life. Education, science, politics, religion and corporate America, all seem to be focused on the individual with no concern for the future of life. The scary thing is scientists are now stating, if we refuse to implement significant changes in the next 12 years, it may be to late! I can assure you solutions for our desired future will not come from the top down but from the bottom up. Your voice is needed! Our focus must be on our home, the environment we live in, if we want to prolong life on this majestic planet!
2019 presents a challenge to each person to become knowledgeable of the facts related to our NATURAL WORLD and the current adverse impacts we are placing on that world which supports human life! We hope everyone interested in a desirable future for the next generation, will accept the challenge and adopt a New Years Resolution to become more knowledgeable and involved in adjusting our current life styles, to provide a healthy future for our children and grandchildren.
We wish all a very Merry Christmas as you reflect upon the blessings of 2018 and a Happy New Year as you search for the facts and solutions that will begin the regeneration of our life sustaining NATURAL WORLD!