At dawn, standing at the top of a 40-meter tower in
the rainforests of La Selva Biological Station, in Puerto Viejo de
Sarapiquí, Costa Rica, the world looks bright and clean. On the
horizon, the Central Volcanic Cordillera still covered with old forests
where jaguars roam. From 3,000 meters above sea level to near sea
level, an uninterrupted swatch of rainforests has provided for over 60
years a place for scientists and students learn about this imperiled
ecosystem. The rivers that traverse these forests collect into the
mighty San Juan River to eventually drain into the Atlantic Ocean, a
relatively short distance in the narrow isthmus that is Central America.
La Selva observation tower overlooking dense Costa Rica rainforest.
Looking at these forests, the ocean seems far away, disconnected
and perhaps unimportant. But they are connected in very powerful and
meaningful ways. Anything we do on the land will eventually show up on
the oceans. Even the volcanoes that emerged from the ...
and formed the isthmus will eventually go back to these same oceans.
To me, it not whether they will go back there or not, in processes that
should take millions of years. To me is how much, while we’re somewhat
at the helm of the landscape-use process we’ve been engaging in the last
few centuries, we’re willing to do to accelerate or diminish
degradation of the life that is sustained by these land-ocean exchanges.
I look at the old forest and wish there was more of it, tempering
the weather and tectonic events, mitigating our foolish use of fossil
fuels, our non-careless handling of our wastes, and our insatiable
hunger for things that are finite and we’ll never be able to get back
again. I see the forests and see hope for the oceans. Because, they
are connected, like we are to them, like everything is.