Progress always takes priority over nature


Soon, CSUN’s botanical gardens, including the pond area next to the Klotz Student Health Center, will be destroyed and paved over to make room for a new science building.

This isn’t wholly unexpected. I don’t remember all that many people using the botanical garden, though I do remember always thinking about how nice it would be to spend some time in there. But CSUN can always use more classrooms and more labs for students to practice and research in.

What bothers me about this renovation is how much it reminds me of one facet of our culture: We tend to take our natural lands for granted. It’s relatively rare that we decide to slow or stop “progress” and leave nature the way it is.

While the destruction of the botanical gardens is a small-scale example of that tendency, the San Fernando Valley is an even better example. I spoke with a man who has lived in his house north of campus for 50 years. He said he watched as the San Fernando Valley was developed from orange groves, the last of which is on the southeast corner of campus, to the urban sprawl that it is today. I saw satellite photos of my house and was amazed that there was my complex, a road going up to it and rolling hills. Nothing else.

Progress shows no signs of slowing, either. Especially with the former boom in the housing market, more and more housing is being built farther and farther into what used to be relatively untouched hills.

Of course, we always strive to find that perfect balance of continuing progress while saving our natural resources. Eventually though, the wild places that aren’t specifically protected by the government, for instance the national forests, will all be swallowed up by progress. We’ll be left with the urban-planned nature of parks and botanical gardens. Anyone who hasn’t seen a deer in a city park will be able to attest to wildlife’s inability to live there.

What can we do, though? As it stands, the only way we can slow progress and keep from expanding outward and taking up more land is to build upward or downward, but there’s only so far we can go in either direction before we have to stop.

Not that we should slow progress. We’ll never be able to keep our land pristine and make room for the ever-growing population until we are able to give ourselves infinite space. Progressing technologically is our only hope of finding some way for mankind and nature to coexist, and perhaps expansion is the only way to breed the sort of scientists we need to progress enough technologically.