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Sunday, July 18, 2010

On the Spread of Civilization

So, what do I mean by this?

While taking off from the airport a few weeks ago, I looked out my window and noticed how civilized the world is (the world being the New York metropolitan area).  For as far as I could see, highways, commercial centers, cul-de-sacs and developments dominated the landscape.  This sight saddened me a bit, as I never really thought of the world being so tamed.  When I go running in some of the larger parks that are near me, I think of being in a massive, unclaimed part of the world.  Nevertheless, as the plane gained altitude, I noticed that even the bigger parks were surrounded by far more developed areas than "natural" areas.  I also realized that the parks themselves are a bit tamed too.  They close at dusk, and the trails are worn and heavily-used.

As I flew over the Midwest, I felt excited to look out the window and see unclaimed and unyielding wilderness.  Once again, I was saddened a bit; the sight was taunting, really.  Massive farms spread out for hundreds of miles.  Sure, there were plenty of "green" spaces, but it was cultivated and tamed.  I am not attacking farms, we need food obviously and I give those people a lot of credit, but there was absolutely no untamed land.  Everything was owned; everything was developed.

This flight was to Alaska, and I will admit that seeing this state was a great relief.  There is increasing development in the state, unfortunately, but a huge portion of it is still untamed.  A person can live in a cabin with no other human being nearby for hundreds of miles around.  There are mountains and valleys everywhere with no highways, cul-de-sacs, or developments.  One of the larger parks up there, Denali National Park (which is larger than the state of Massachusetts), has one road that goes through it.  There are barely any trails, and people (with a permit of course), can get off of this road and walk into the wilderness at any place they choose.  This is wilderness with (almost) no limits, and I sincerely hope it will forever remain that way.


  1. You should post the pictures of Denali and then put a picture of New York City. Sort of like a comparison thing.


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