A Blue Marble and A Mound Of Salt
I believe that the way our society views nature is doing more harm than good. We tend to romanticize only the most beautiful spots on our planet and ignore the rest. If it’s not a tropical paradise or pristine woodland forest, then our appreciation veers away from it. If it doesn't fit the mold of pure wilderness, and natural beauty that we expect, then it’s tainted. This reflects our ignorance as a species to feel apart from, or above, nature. Our impact as a species is global; there is not an ecosystem on this planet that is free from our influence. We have to accept that our actions, no matter how benign, have consequences and that there is still beauty in the world we have tainted. We have to focus our attention close to home. When we pivot our attention away from the global theater to our own homes, we can recognize the environmental issues affecting us and our communities. Hopefully, this can foster a sense of accountability for our local environment, and shift our perspective as separate from nature, to an intrinsic part of it.
I took this photograph in the salt lagoons of the South Bay in Chula Vista during a cleanup effort put on by our local nature conservation center. A thunderstorm the previous day had flooded much of the gravel paths, but the salt mounds still towered over us. As a team leader, I lead groups of community members throughout the area with buckets and trash pickers. A lot of eastern Chula Vista was built on top of an estuary. Bits of this ecosystem remains walled off by development. It is a crucial area because it is a rest stop for many migratory birds and houses its own variety of native species. The large mounds of salt and gigantic rusting industrial equipment betray signs that this area is still tied to our ecosystem. Despite being choked off by a city of a quarter-million, the estuary persists. Local organizations such as the Living Coast Discovery Center, play a huge role in alleviating the stress on our local ecosystems. We host clean up events regularly alongside other community events that focus on education and sustainability. Our clean up initiative works its way around the south bay area, including a lot of the industrial zones such as the South Bay Salt Works.
Earthrise had the same impact on me that it did on the astronauts of Apollo 8; it made me realize that there is no second chance. Every square inch of this planet is invaluable. We should be working not only to protect what is left but also to rehabilitate the areas we have disturbed. When I looked over the salt mounds and rusting equipment and glanced over at the salt lagoons dotted with birds, I understood that although we can pave over the estuary, poison the bay, fill the area with steel giants, and reap the ocean of its salt, parts of the ecosystem remain. And these parts deserve just as much consideration as the forests, streams, and lakes that we have yet to decimate. Through my photograph, I want to showcase these areas and highlight the organizations that are fighting to keep them alive. At this point in time, my state has lost more than ninety percent of its wetland area. Eventually, I want the ongoing conservation and rehabilitation efforts in my city to become the precedent for the rest of the country. There is no other Earth, the blue marble we call home is all we’ve got. Every part of it.