In the post-Gold Rush history, once humans and their disease-ridden domestic sheep appeared in California we unleashed successive reverberations altering the fauna make-up of the region. Perhaps if we could create a societal consensus to evacuate large segments of the Sierra Nevada, or suffer a die-off of our own, nature might drift back toward its pre-19th century pattern. But we are not likely to evacuate the Sierra and if we die off it is likely to be of some man made disaster also affecting the environment. Leaving it alone is not really an option because we already have our thumbs on the scale in so many ways, from fragmenting wildlife corridors to spreading toxic materials to fomenting climate change.
From the moment humans became an intrusive element the wilderness ceased to be the wilderness if by wilderness we mean free of human impact and the remnants of outdoor sports. If there are attributes of that wilderness we wish to preserve even as we become more intrusive then we must deploy both technology and good judgment as well as recognize we ourselves must accept some of nature’s demands on us. While it is cool to see coyotes on a late-night walk in urban Portland the downside is hearing of the mysterious disappearance of a neighbor’s little dog that same night. I treasure the sight of the coyote but lament the dog’s demise and the pesky raccoon’s in my attic without satellite collars powered by enterprise solutions.
There are hundred, thousands, more, of little events and indicators that our world has changed and we will be the poorer for it. As long as we don’t keep on pretending things are not a big messy mess, all these fiddles are, I suppose, OK. We can only do what we can. But to not do those little things, to pretend that it’s all going to be magically fixed, is nonsense.
There are a wide range of things that can be done, but only if we stop deceiving ourselves that there things will somehow come out OK if we all abdicate our direct responsibility to do our possible. Since the industrial revolution, we’ve been plundering, looting, accommodating, and ignoring that our earth is finite. The dues coming in should not be subject to denial and argument. Actions have consequences.