Friday, May 28, 2010

Ignorance is not bliss

Most of the time I stick pretty close to my own cabin, perched on this island of forest above the populated valleys below me. One of the reasons I blog is simply because I want to record what’s here in an eastern forests in the early part of the 21st Century.

I want others to see how it’s possible to live amongst the natural world and still be a part of, if sometimes a reluctant part, the modern world. I want to show that you don’t have to be a hermit in the Alaskan wilderness to live a life that’s compatible with nature. You don’t have to be scientist or a researcher or a writer for National Geographic either. Anyone can do it. I’m anyone.

And it’s time for me to say how shocked I am at the devastation down in the Gulf of Mexico. I’m shocked that the oil spill could happen. I’m more shocked that it’s taking more than a month to stop the flow of oil. I’ve been upset by statements from everyone from the press to the president who all seem to equate the spill more with lost revenue than with ecological damage. But I think I’m most shocked by the relative apathy about what the oil spill will mean to our earth.

I know more about birds than fish and oceans, so I will talk more about those. I can tell you that perhaps as many as 12 species are endangered by this spill, possibly to the point of extinction. Mottled duck appears to be one of the most vulnerable. They are a lot like a black duck and are local to the Gulf Coast. Two other waterfowl species that are also especially vulnerable are Redheaded ducks and Greater scaup, both of which winter exclusively along the Gulf Coast. The devastation to shorebirds and seabirds is as yet incalculable. This is the breeding season, and if there’s a worse time for something like this to happen, I don’t know when it would be.

Everything on our planet is interconnected. The fish feed the birds, the fish feed on smaller marine life, the smaller marine life depend on healthy waters. Pundits claim that all politics is local. I’d like to turn that around and say when it comes to the environment, nothing is just local. The volcano in Iceland shuts down air traffic throughout Europe. The Gulf oil spill may well result in extinction for some species, devastation of the waters throughout the south and possibly beyond for years to come. The hurricane season may well be worsened by the spill itself. Worries are that those storms could carry oil inland as oil-contaminated raindrops, where they could fall on farmland and damage that.

We can’t afford to be ignorant of our planet anymore, not when we have the power to destroy it and I don’t mean just with nuclear weapons. An oil spill can destroy our world just as easily, if not as fast. We can’t afford to feel no connection to nature, because it’s nature that sustains all our lives. It is time, past time, to put nature in the forefront of our education and our decision-making. Our lives depend on it. Our kids’ lives depend on it.

The Senegalese poet Baba Dioum said it best::
 “In the end we conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

PBS Newshour’s Web site has posted a series of photos, of which today’s is one, that documents some of the destruction to wetlands and wildlife. The photos are terrible to look at, but we have to look.


The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

You are exactly right, though in the end, I don't know if being right matters any more when it comes to taking care of the natural world. I'm sorry to be so pessimistic…but I'm trying to be honest, and I've pretty much lost hope. The truth is, I think the majority of people live solely in the moment, in an ego-centric universe, and will put profit first—even if it means the eventual end of everything, including their own generations to come.

Carolyn H said...

Griz: I have little hope,too, but I'm darned well going to try and show people what they're missing, if nothing else.

Cathy said...

Carol I don't want think what a hurricane would do to that area. They should just capped the well after they tried the first thingy. Well send Bp the bill!

phylliso said...

I`ve wanted to blog about the oil spill too,but you have said it all.I cannot believe that they chose to ignore that this disaster could happen. I cannot watch pictures of the wildlife struggle,it is too heartbreaking for me to bear.phylliso

Sam said...

I try not to lose hope. Some readers of my blog say I am too pessimistic. I suspect they would rather be "ignorant". But soldier on. I try to point out to readers that we must be informed and make the leaders accountable.

Carolyn H said...

Phyliso: it's very hard to watch the photos of the strugging wildlife. I don't understand why those photos haven't had more of an impact or raised people's ire more than they have. If people can't connect to photos like that, there truly is no hope for us as a species.

Carolyn H said...

Sam: It's hard not to lose hope sometimes. When people ignore the oil spill or can't relate to the photos of the dying birds and wildlife, it's hard to find many reasons to be optimistic about our long term survival as a species. We can't destroy the world we live in and expect to survive ourselves.