Leave Nothing But Footprints

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By Olivia Juliano

Editor Katie Williams

Growing up, climate change was never something that was talked about in my family, or in my adolescent education days. I’m about to be 21 years old, and it still isn’t talked about in my household and only has been brought up in a couple of my classes.

However, climate change has dug a pit into my stomach that will literally and figuratively – keep me up at night.

People lounge and swim in Lake Superior at Miners Beach in Munising, Michigan on Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021.

It’s nauseating, really, thinking about the little things that are associated with climate change. What I think about most often is how our national parks are being affected. Not only our national parks, but the environment around us as we know it.

You’ve probably seen the comparisons between Google Earth from years ago to now. It used to be so green, so blue, so cute and pretty. Key words: used to be.

If you haven’t, grab a glass of water and check it out on NASA’s Image of Climate Change. Google earth also provides an interactive timelapse where you can see the difference in places climate change has affected, like Alaskan Glaciers.

A sign asking patrons to stay on the trail in Tahquamenon State Park in Paradise, Michigan on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. Hikers who explore beyond the trails causes negative effects of the park.

Last month I went on a trip to the Upper Peninsula and visited the Tahquamenon Falls State Park along with visiting Pictured Rocks in Munising, Michigan. Seeing the natural beauty that Michigan has, had me thinking of all the other areas around the world that are being destroyed by us (Yes – us).

For the amount of people on the beach near Pictured Rocks, it was surprisingly clean. Did everyone clean up after themselves? Probably not, but I am basing it off the fact that I was able to walk on the sand without getting a bottle cap stuck to the bottom of my foot.

Mickinley Auger (right), and Olivia Juliano (left), stand in front of Tahquamenon Falls in Paradise, Michigan on Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021. Tahquamenon Falls State Park has many areas to get close to the water.

Seeing the natural beauty in the world and seeing everyone come together is a wonderful thing. I would love to visit other national and state parks.

The gag is that I may not be able to once climate change becomes irreversible. We are so close to reaching that point.

These parks strive to remind us to take care of the trails we are walking on, to stop leaving our gum wrappers and beer cans on the ground and take pride in letting the environment do what the environment needs to do. Well, they said it more professionally.

There was a butterfly that followed us around the whole 5 day trip. I’m not even exaggerating – we even noticed her outside one of our motel windows at 9pm. According to the World Wildlife Organization, Monarch butterflies are very vulnerable to the changing climate. How things are currently going on in the world – I’m surprised she was with me the whole time.

It’s a no-brainer we need to take care of our planet. It’s a no brainer we need to let nature be nature.

It’s a no-brainer that we are the issue.

Being able to experience the glory that Michigan has to offer; I can’t even imagine what the rest of the world has in store. But this thought leads me to an unsettling question…

Will I ever be able to see it?

A sign reads, “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints,” in Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Paradise, Michigan on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021. State parks urge patrons to leave nature alone. 

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