Tragedy changes downtown Bozeman, Montana: A tourism blow

Each year we’ve gone through the outskirts of Bozeman, Montana on our way to Butte from Billings. Each year, before we head for Montana, we say we’ll go to Bozeman, at least for a day. It’s been touted as being a western town success story. Boutique type stores, galleries, and eateries are housed in wonderfully restored buildings that capture the flavor of when the west boomed as the railroad was built and mining thrived.

Some friends of ours who live in Montana have told us that Bozeman has lost some of its wild charm as it has swung more upscale over the years. Unfortunately, last week, Bozeman was delivered a blow that will be a hard one to get over. Due to a massive explosion due to a gas leak, five of the historic buildings downtown on Main Street were destroyed and several damaged. The woman who managed the gallery in the building where the leak happened was killed.

Because of the economic downturn that has also affected downtown Bozeman, there’s a fear that the downtown might have difficult time recovering. The New York Times article, where I read about this news, also covers the other ways economic difficulties have influenced Bozeman’s recent development projects.

With this explosion has come the anxiety about leaks in old gas lines, probably something all older towns ought to think about. Now that I’ve found out about Bozeman’s recent hardship, I have more of an urge to swing through town this summer to buy something. It’s the least we can do.

If you browse through the photos of crd who took this picture of Main Street in Bozeman, you can see more results of the explosion.

Enjoying the ocean means taking care of it

A recent article in The Economist outlines how man is destroying the ocean. It reports, “Man has changed the landscape and the atmosphere. It would be odd if the seas, which he has for centuries used for food, for transport, for dumping rubbish and, more recently, for recreation, had not also been affected.” Despite being an avid ocean-goer myself, I have to agree with this assessment. Furthermore, it should not be too surprising that as man continues to utilize the ocean’s resources, whether it be for food, transportation, waste disposal, or recreation, the ecosystem below is changing.

The recent shark attacks in Australia and the shark sightings in Hawaii back in October clearly parallel this hard reality. While it’s important to enjoy our waters, it’s equally important to do our job as citizens in this world to protect them. That means doing small things like not touching the reef or getting in close contact with marine life. It also means choosing cleaner modes of water transport like sailing. It means being vigilant about where we throw our trash, and most of all it means we have to educate ourselves and understand the conditions of the sea.

With proper care and vigilance, the ocean can be a place our future generations can enjoy as we do. Otherwise, as The Economist article puts it, “The possibility of widespread catastrophe is simply too great.”

We have damaged 96% of our world’s oceans

See all the orange on this world map? That represents all the damage we have done to our planet’s oceans as a result of fishing, pollution, and activities that are cause for climate change. This is the first time such a map has been drawn out to document the overall impact of human activity and what I see here is shocking and depressing.

Only about 4% of our oceans (near the poles) are relatively untarnished, but marine eco-systems are significantly damaged everywhere else, of which 40% face serious environmental degradation.

The BBC has put together a video that shows the same along with an explanation from Ben Halpern — one of the marine ecologists who helped put this map together.

On a positive note, identifying the problem on a global scale and understanding its seriousness means we are in a better position to work towards fixing things, perhaps with a higher level of consciousness.

When I read information like this, I always feel a lump in my throat because on a personal level I don’t do anything that contributes to helping the situation. Honestly, in this case I don’t even know if I can. I could spend time researching and figuring it out for myself, but I don’t see that happening. Laziness, helplessness, no-time, call it what you will.

Just like is often done for the global-warming issue, the media needs to keep flashing us pointers on how, on an individual level, we can help the situation without having to dedicate all our free time to the cause. Even if a small percentage of people heed the pointers given, in addition to focused efforts by eco-experts, it would help the problem, no?