Morning on the Carrizo Plain

Life is what happened when the planet was busy making other plans. I’m not sure anybody knows exactly how or why non-living bits of matter became self-replicating bits of living organisms that eventually evolved into us. Whatever it was, we’re grateful.

One thing I’ve figured out since I started spending more time outdoors: we’re just one more species on a planet teeming with them. Earth has no regard for our minor hopes and petty ambitions. It’ll live on long after we’re gone.

A lot of humans fret over the damage we’re inflicting on the planet. I have a hard time getting totally worked up over our trivial contributions — it’s not like we can move continents, create mountain ranges, sprout volcanoes. The planet’s always tearing one part down and building another part up. Most of California was ocean bed a few million years ago. There were no activist organizations to protect aquatic species royally screwed by the collision of tectonic plates that created our lovely coastline and left dry land where the ocean used to be.

There’s only one problem with the “stop worrying, the planet’ll be fine” approach: Greedy short-sighted buck chasers use it as an excuse to do nothing about disappearing forests, rivers, lakes and living things that, frankly, the Earth can adapt to losing. Some kind of life will pretty much always live this planet.

The species that really needs clean water, abundant forests and thriving wild ecosystems is us. Wild places store our best hope for survival. Ruining them ruins us.

Blasting the tops off mountains to protect mining jobs or chopping down ancient redwoods to provide a few logging jobs might be good for one generation, but it’s stealing resources our grandkids and great-great grandkids and they’re great-great grandkids are going to need.

There’s no such thing as saving the environment. There’s only saving ourselves.