Influencing the Shifting Sands of Time

Articles in this week’s edition of the Vallarta Tribune by Emily Majewski and Emily Murray ’s really got me thinking about how much power we as humans collectively have to influence the future. As with anytime I find myself deep in thought, a little reflection in nature provided context for my pondering.

Staring out at the miles of beaches lining our beloved Banderas Bay, one can easily imagine that while individual grains of sand come and go with the waves and the wind, our shorelines themselves have changed little through the course of time. It only takes a major weather event like what we experienced recently with Hurricane Lorena and Tropical Storm Narda (thankfully downgraded before arriving in Vallarta) to remind us of what a fallacy such thoughts are.

Beaches are dynamic and transitory land forms that can be washed away as quickly as they are formed. After the recent storms passed, I was amazed at how different the mouth of the Río Cuale looks now. Loads of sand, probably enough to overflow enormous fleets of earthmoving equipment for weeks on end, were dumped far out past the normal mouth of the river forming a wide arch of a sand bar that looks more like an island at low tide.
The infrastructure we humans have built up around us doesn’t always respect the natural forces at work and factor in the dynamic tendencies of our environment. We can see this at play locally with our beaches after a major storm event, but it’s hard for most of us to extrapolate out our collective impacts across the planet. It’s even harder for us to imagine changing our current trajectory as a civilization to a course of sustainability while our planet is still functioning as a relatively healthy interconnection of complimentary ecosystems.

Perhaps turning our focus back to the local area can again provide us with a frame of reference we can conceptualize more easily. What do we need to do as a local community to protect the bay, estuaries, rivers, forests, and mountains we ultimately rely upon for our health and economy? As long as we can accomplish impactful actions of conservation and environmental stewardship here in our area and inspire visitors to do so wherever they call home, we still have hope as a planet. As you relax in, work in, or visit Puerto Vallarta this week, think of some ways you can live more harmoniously with planet earth, our collective home.

With great hope for our future,
Neil Gerlowski