On Sept. 17, 1804, Meriwether Lewis noted in his journal, "This scenery already rich, pleasing and beautiful was still farther heightened by immense herds of buffalo, deer, elk and antelopes which we saw in every direction feeding on the hills and plains. I do not think I exaggerate when I estimate the number of buffalo which could be compre(hend)ed at one view to amount to 3,000."
The land Lewis and Clark explored was abundant and pristine and had been that way for millennia. Geologically, 200 years is an extremely short time, and in that time we have managed to adversely change the land, as we have severely polluted our air and water, eliminated habitat and sent creatures into eternity.
The short time in which this destruction has taken place has set a precedent that is alarming, requiring us to take a hard look at where we have been and where we are going.
Nonetheless, today environmentalists are ridiculed as crazed extremists without a clue. However, I feel that most environmentalists are moderates, and are simply concerned about the damage we have done to our once pristine environment in such a very short time. I, too, am concerned about the future of our environment; therefore, I support the Endangered Species Act and other laws that promote conservation and preservation.
I do not support drilling in the National Arctic Wildlife Refuge; however, I have no problem with requiring automakers to increase gas mileage standards on new vehicles which would produce the same net effect.
Also, I support the pursuit of alternative fuels such as Fuel Cells, which some studies estimate could replace the combustion engine within a decade. I also wonder why we have not yet decided to pursue new technologies more aggressively -- could it be that there is still too much money to be gleaned from oil?
The journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition, provide us with an environmental bench mark which we can use to compare the past to the future, and when we do, we find that we could indeed have been better stewards of the land, and should be better in the future.
Singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg wrote, "There are laws that we must live by and they're not the laws of man -- can't you see the shadow that moves across this land?"
George Conley, Payson