The Today Show recently ran a contest to determine the "picture of the year". There were images of Obama, Michael Phelps, moving photos of conflicts around the world. But the theme that ultimately won out was nature. 3 of the top 5 photos chosen by viewers depicted acts of nature around the world, the top one being of a lightning storm over a volcano in Southern Chile. The photo is dramatic - so much so that you'd think it was doctored up or contrived. Rest assured, it is real and awe-inspiring. It was taken by photographer Carlos Gutierrez for the Patagonia Press.
I think about the environment a lot, its beauty and power. I used to work for an environmental nonprofit and it is one of the main causes I donate to. I read extensively on the topic and am constantly working to lower my carbon footprint. I am certainly a green consumer and firmly believe that there are enormous public health implications if we do not do everything we can to protect our natural world. I am so pleased that Mr. Gutierrez's photo won - it shows that I am not alone in being inspired by nature, not by a long-shot. Of all the photos that were taken in this historic year, nature reigned supreme in inspiring people around the world.
I hope 2009 will be the year when green energy and environmental conservation takes center stage - in this country as well as in other countries around the world. I hope we put policies and regulations in place that halt the rapid disappearance of species and habitat. I hope that more people will be willing to pay a bit more now for green products rather than pay dearly for the consequences of not protecting the environment in years to come. As a society, I'd like to see us protect and treasure life.
There is a song that John Denver sings on the Muppet Christmas album that is one of my favorites. It's about a little tree named Alfie. At the end of the song, John communicates one small request from Alfie, and whenever I hear it I get a little bit choked up. It bears repeating. "You see life is a very special kind of thing. And not just for a chosen few, but for every living, breathing thing, not just me and you. So in your Christmas prayers this year, Alfie asked me if I'd ask you to say a prayer for the wind, and the water, and the wood, and those who live there, too." That's a request I'm very happy to fill.
The photo above can be found at: http://breh.myncblogs.com/files/2008/05/volcanoupi_800x531-580x384.jpg