Cherish, Treasure, Appreciate, and Take Care of Our Planet Earth

Reader Contribution by Julie Stephens
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“Twenty-five years ago people could be excused for not knowing much, or doing much, about climate change. Today we have no excuse.” Desmond Tutu

I equate not taking an active role, or interest, in being a good steward of the earth to not living a healthy lifestyle, and in both cases just being mystified by the results. We cannot trash the earth any more than we can trash our bodies without consequences. Good health is a gift to be cared for and treasured. Likewise, a greener, healthier world requires each of us to do all we can to eliminate the pollution and practices that warm the planet and change our climate. By educating ourselves about what’s going on with climate change and what can be done about it, we can make more informed choices when it is time to vote for the people who have the power to make big decisions. The biggest impacts on our planet will be, and will come from, large-scale policy changes and solutions that are influenced by who’s in office. The question isn’t whether climate change is happening, or whether humans are responsible, but what can we do?

We can limit the use of fossil fuels, such as oil, carbon and natural gas, and replace them with renewable and cleaner sources of energy, all while increasing energy efficiency. Heat and cool more efficiently: use a programmable thermostat, change air filters and replace old equipment with Energy Star products. Change your most-used light fixtures or bulbs to products that have the EPA’s Energy Star label.  Seal and insulate your home.  Recycle.  Use green power such as solar power.  Reduce water waste: instead of rinsing clothes twice—use less soap and use low flow shower head.  Estimate how much greenhouse gas you emit with the EPA’s calculator.  The U.S. Department of Energy has an online guide to buying green power.  Check out clean energy resources and financial incentives in your area through the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.

May 20th, 2019

“I’m often asked whether I believe in global warming. I now just reply with the question: Do you believe in gravity?” Neil deGrasse Tyson

Living at 9,000 feet in our remote little mountain village is neither easy nor convenient. The reason we live in this difficult climate and isolated region is entirely because of the picturesque surroundings. Therefore, one would think that all the people who live here care about the environment. Sadly, this is not necessarily so. It is sickening to realize that anyone would pollute our river to get rid of their waste.  Unfortunately, it seems to be so.  It’s akin to big corporations polluting our oceans and air to save themselves money in the short run. Try living without clean water.

Why All-Terrain Vehicles and Wildlife Do Not Mix

For many, ATVs are used as tools on working farms and forests, around job and construction sites, and for some, ATVs are used for recreation.

While ATV’s are being used for fun for some people, they cause great environmental damage: noise disturbance, damage to vegetation, increased runoff, soil erosion, and contaminating water. Wildlife suffer from these impacts.

As ATVs are driven across the land, their heavy weight compacts soil. Soil compaction changes the properties of the soil, by squeezing the tiny air spaces out of what would normally be healthy soils. When this happens, water cannot be absorbed into the ground, causing runoff. When runoff occurs, surface soils are washed downhill into water, where sediments have negative impacts on aquatic habitats for fish, amphibians and other wildlife. Soil compaction also limits root growth for plants, including those that wildlife feed upon.

As soils are washed into nearby waters, water quality is greatly disrupted in a numerous ways. Also, when ATVs cross streams, damage occurs to aquatic plants and habitat where frogs and turtles can be found. When extensive damage occurs in a wetland, its ability to function is greatly reduced, meaning that our natural filters cannot adequately clean water.

“If you really think that the environment is less important than the economy, try holding your breath while you count your money.” Guy McPherson 

Some people seem to think that the earth in general and the mountains and beaches in particular, are for their pleasure without caring about any environmental consequences

“We are the first generation to feel the sting of climate change, and we are the last generation that can do something about it.” Jay Insl

“We are living on this planet as if we had another one to go to.” Terri Swearingen

The picture was taken at a Main Street store front in Gunnison, Colorado – about 75 minutes from Lake City – where we go for supplies.

Everything happens for a reason. Profound and unprecedented snowfall and avalanche activity this season continues put our little mountain village at risk. After surviving the most prolific snowfall on record, which in turn produced extraordinary avalanche action, we are weary. Yet, the concern goes onward. Summer officially begins June 21st so sooner rather than later, this inane cold, snowy, late spring weather will stop. As we warm up, we are at risk for disastrous flooding.  When the snow up high melts, the wreckage inside the avalanches will descend into the river. It has been stated that some full-grown trees are stacked up over 200 feet deep above Henson Creek. Since Henson Creek runs through Lake City, conditions are certainly ripe for some flooding.  The unanswered question now is, how much flooding? Precautions are being taken to keep the worst case run-off from happening.

To keep the ancient dams from breaking, holes have been created to lessen pressure.  Still, blockages could happen from so very much debris as the snow melts. If debris comes down faster than is humanly possible to keep up with and the dams rupture, that could send an enormous amount of water through Lake City. To be prepared, the goal is filling thousands of sandbags and having equipment in place to pull trees and the like out of the water, intending to avoid buildups. It is both grim and comforting to see: big equipment parked and ready at different water locations, sand trucks coming and going on the highway, our lit up sign saying: “be tuned into code red/flooding alerts.” During a walk with the dogs up in the mountains, we ran into our fire chief.  He was looking for alternative routes to get folks who live across bridges to safety, if needed.

Emergency personnel as well as townspeople are preparing as best we can for what’s to come from the run-off.  We wait anxiously and hope for the best.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” Native American Proverb

Julie Stephens lives with her husband Bruce and their dogs, Joy and Hope, in the tiny mountain village of Lake City, CO. They enjoy living in the midst of nature at 9,000 feet in the most remote area in the US lower 48 states: Hinsdale County. Julie spends her unscheduled days: reading, writing and walking the dogs in the mountains, with camera in hand. Julie’s books available on her website, personal blog, and Amazon author page.

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