A road out of Juneau is, as yesterday's editorial on the subject put it, unappealing to a lady with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. What the editorial left out is that it is also unappealing to a lot of other people.
There is the business side of Juneau, which, for obvious reasons, a road would be great for. That is not, however, Juneau's most noteworthy aspect. Commerce hums along most fiercely in the ugly places of the world, the strips and monstrous highways of the Lower 48.
Economic interchange does not make somewhere a fulfilling place to live. What makes Juneau so great is how strong a presence nature has here, how completely immersing yourself in nature is a matter of a five-minute walk for many of us. While a road would not completely change all of this, its ramifications would be a big step in the wrong direction. It would mean more commerce and less beauty.
Ideally, we destroy nature only to the minimum extent necessary to support ourselves economically. When too much beauty is sacrificed for commerce, people start moving away and all the monstrous structures constructed for the purpose of conducting commerce fall into relative disuse. The destruction of beauty for business, if taken too far, ultimately results only in the destruction of beauty. It is a cycle that collapses in on itself.
I'm about to leave for college in Arizona, but I very well might come back afterward. And if I do, it won't be because of all the trucks moving along some new four-lane highway.
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