Saving America’s Amazon: Our Most Biodiverse River System is Under Siege
© 2020 Ben Raines
The Mobile river delta is one of the most biologically diverse places on Earth, but few know and still fewer appreciate this: for thousands of years, Alabama has served as a haven for many species found nowhere else, kept warm and rainy by generous sunshine and Gulf breezes. In the last century, though, and especially more recently, Alabama’s record-number of natural species has been rivaled by a record number of extinctions: dams, logging, and industrial development have been disrupting species migrations, destroying habitats, and poisoning broad areas. Ben Raines, E.O. Wilson, and others have suggested that Alabama is at a crossroads: either Alabamians began taking stewardship of this incredible treasure more seriously, or it will be lost. The scope of the problem is significant: speaking as an Alabamian who delights in exploring the state’s wild places and reading books about science and nature, even I was unaware of how unique the Mobile delta is until reading an article in the NY Times a few years ago. Raines’ gift for photography is employed to good effect here, with shots of staggering beauty showing off both the landscape and the unique I hope that Raines and other’s activism will help turn the tide, but his argument here would have been better served had he not frequently used ‘conservative’ as a bad word: given that his intended audience is Alabamians, demeaning the reader probably won’t help. If pictures are worth a thousand words, though, those included here will more than make up for Raines’ failure to read the room and convince readers that the Delta is a jewel worth cherishing and protecting.