James Pinsky: Beauty and the beast: A New Year’s conservation fairy tale

The beauty of a new year is the belief we can start over.

The beast, all beasts in fact, have no such magical do-over day, sans the groundhog and his Bill Murray-led do over, and over and over again until things were done right movie.

While many of us celebrated New Year’s Day because of the hope that comes from the ability to begin again, we ought to remember that to our environment what we do – for better or for worse, is tough to undo, ignore or erase.

Our beasts need us to see the beauty in all life now because they count on us every day to be good stewards of not just our own lives but theirs as well. What we do impacts the lives of all of the Earth’s creatures and their homes, and because of this our actions must be much more than right – they must be noble and above all else, sustainable. It was Theodore Roosevelt who once said “To waste, to destroy our natural resources, to skin and exhaust the land instead of using it so as to increase its usefulness, will result in undermining in the days of our children the very prosperity which we ought by right to hand down to them amplified and developed.”

Good conservation practices ought not to need to be a New Year’s Day resolution. The shear impact of our actions on not only our lives but the lives of every living thing on Earth should be motivation enough to always do what is right. Most parents would never send their children to school with knowingly contaminated water, diseased food or the fear that their home may not be there after school. Yet, every day we take actions, or worse – fail to take actions that do the same things to our natural resources either through ignorance, apathy or neglect. Imagine the looks you’d get at the local PTA meeting if you announced your New Year’s Day resolution was to stop dumping your garbage on your children’s beds every morning.

As the ultimate stewards of our world maybe what we all ought to resolve to do is to give the well-being of all life the same care and compassion we give our own. To do so, to simply shift our perspective, could take conservation from an act out of convenience to a daily sense of duty. When and if you do we here at the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District are here to help. We offer the education, training and sometimes even the funding to not just learn about how to improve the environment around you, but to do something to make nature a better place. After all, what we do with something as common as our soils can make all the difference in the world. Better said by another Roosevelt, this time Franklin D. Roosevelt “A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. “

It’s a brand new year. Take a moment to pause, take a deep breath and start being the environmental change you want to see in our world so all of the world’s beasts will see the beauty of humankind.

James Pinsky is the Education and Information Coordinator for the Lord Fairfax Soil and Water Conservation District.  Contact him at 540.465.2424, ext. 104, or james.pinsky@lfswcd.org.