Environmental Generational Amnesia

The reading by Peter Kahn entitled Environmental Generational Amnesia really stands out to me. It brought to mind the neighborhood that I grew up in in what is now the city of Sammamish. It used to be very sparsely populated and almost every house had a large backyard on the edge of an extensive forest. I could walk straight out of our back door and into the woods and within a minute I would be unable to see any people or homes at all.

Nowadays, three decades of steady development has led to that great interconnected forest being reduced to a fraction of its former size, existing mainly in small pockets in places where the terrain is unsuitable for building a house. Going out of the back door of my old house leads you to a fence of course, and back where the trees began there are a row of homes to the left, to the right, and further on down the hill that used to be obscured by wilderness.

The children that live there now don’t see it like I do, of course. To them, the forest is somewhere that you drive to, not some place that you accidentally throw a baseball into when you’re playing catch in the backyard. And the generation after the present occupants will see even more homes and even less trees, and they will find that normal as well, and on it goes.

In a sense I’m glad that they don’t know what it used to look like because that would make it harder to enjoy the little pockets of that old forest that remain standing.

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