In chapter 12 of Bruce Hull’s Infinite Nature, the beauties of the natural world are discussed by using examples of natural parks. Hull says that parks provide people with areas of recreation, a chance to witness extraordinary experiences, a way to see beauty all over, and also to see something that is designed to be neat and wonderful. When I first read this chapter, I was immediately reminded of my trip to the Garden of the Gods in Colorado. This natural, rocky park gives hikers, tourists, and environmental guru’s the chance to witness nature in an interesting perspective. When I visited, we rode horses up one of the larger red rocks at sunrise. I have to say, it was one of the most serene experiences I have ever had; feeling like I was at the top of the world, with no technological distractions and seeing natural beauty for miles. Like Hull states, the feeling that I had when interacting with nature helped to “promote feelings of peace and tranquility” and even to “contemplate God’s grace” (188). It truly is a wonderful world that we are living in; if only everyone would appreciate the beauty in front of them.
I was thinking today about going home to Colorado and once again seeing the haze in the skyline of all the fires that have been burning. So many people ask when I say that I’m from Colorado about them and sometimes it’s hard to explain because we have such a beautiful state and mother nature is just going through a “re-growing” process. This got me to thinking about all those acres of dry and dead wood burning, what kind of effect does that have? Wildfires are still a part of nature and they play a key role in shaping ecosystems as part of the process of renewal and change. However, these fires are deadly and destroy everything in its path; homes, animal habitats, and timber. All this burning still pollutes the air with harmful emissions as seen by the firefighters still having to wear masks if they get really close to the big fires. These fires still release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere even though the effect on the landscape may not be long-lasting. A National Science Foundation article published in 2007 (see link) reported that the fires in that year in California and the western states put as much carbon dioxide into the air as much as the states’ entire motor vehicle traffic for one year! These fires may not all be intentional and started from just a lightning strike, so they are “natural” right? Interesting to see how some things are not all man caused in the carbon dioxide emission data, but we shall see if new laws in the future take forest fires and their prevention into consideration.