Life in the Big City

After more than a week of exploring the spectacular landscapes and natural ecosystems of southern Quebec, we are back in Montreal, awaiting our flight to the U.S.  Montreal is a large city with all the amenities and challenges of a modern urban center.  As a naturalist, I relish the opportunity to visit wilderness areas, nature preserves and wildlife refuges but, contrary to what some may imagine, I prefer to live in a large city.

Those who live in large urban areas have a closer connection to other human populations across the globe; this results from both close access to modern worldwide aviation and the cultural mix of our cities themselves.  Of course, large cities also face a wide variety of challenges, including industrial pollution, traffic congestion, homelessness, strained healthcare and social service systems and urban blight to name just a few.  On the other hand, those who live in cities have the opportunity to participate in the resolution of those problems and to ensure that the freedoms of human society are in balance with the rights of the individual.

As one who is devoted to conservation, I know that the policies and funding so vital to that cause are generated in urban centers.  Furthermore, the urbanization of human populations serves to reduce our impact on natural environments, protecting them from suburban sprawl and the excessive utilization of resources such as trees and water.  I'll take the city with all its warts and challenges; hopefully, in return, unspoiled wilderness will be protected for both the benefit of humans and the welfare of natural ecosystems.