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.
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 …
ocean 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.