Here’s one last picture from my trip to Zion (see the first and second). Looking at a picture like this, one is reminded of the incredible power of nature and the relatively insignificant amount of time that the human species has been on the planet. Like the unexpected shrubs growing from the cracks in the sandstone, the Earth has been resilient despite our abuses. While we have not been around for most of Earth’s history, we have had immeasurable impacts.
This picture was taken from Checkerboard Mesa, which, like the rest of Zion National Park, was once sand dunes (and eventually will become, again). The horizontal furrows were made during the Jurassic period by wind-blown sands and are becoming deeper through annual freeze and thaw cycles. Sand, however, does not have as dramatic an affect as dynamite and bulldozers, and it took humans only a couple of years to make their mark in Zion. Case in point: the 1.1 mile Zion-Mt. Carmel tunnel that leads to Checkerboard Mesa was blasted through thick Navajo sandstone in the early years of the twentieth century. So yes, nature is powerful, but so are we. It is our responsibility to ensure that our impact is one we can be proud of.
Anna Ponting is a junior majoring in Urban Studies, and has self-designed her concentration, Urban Design and Sustainability. She is the program assistant for SUSS and enjoys travel, being active, and food.