This is something we latched onto in my grad studies, brief though they were:
The more we discover about our environment, the more evident it is that you cannot focus on saving one species, or one system. Everything is connected, which means taking a totally holistic view of the environment.
The good news is, this means you can pat yourself on the back every time you reduce your energy consumption, or recycle instead of throwing things away, or carpool to reduce car emissions, or plant trees to reduce waste water runoff. In doing these things, YOU are saving a little bit of every species and system on the planet.
How empowering is that?!
The bad news is, this means extra effort by the entire population is needed in order to make what might seem like a minimal difference. For example, to save the local orca population (my personal goal in life), we must:
Reduce waste runoff into the entire Puget Sound estuary system (that's agricultural waste, human sewage, vehicle emissions and runoff, and industrial waste/toxins), remove the dams in salmon-spawning rivers (and find a more efficient way to irrigate agricultural areas), shift logging efforts away from river banks (removing tree root systems means more erosion of the soil and silt runoff into the waterway, choking out the oxygen in it as well as making it more shallow), reduce human consumption of wild salmon in this area (and therefore reduce competition), reduce boat traffic in the waterways (which has a negative effect on all species, with both the intrusive noise pollution and the industrial emissions into the water), etc.
That's a LOT of work. We can do it, but I think it requires a shift in cultural thinking, which may or may not be hundreds of years in the making. Respecting a thing, without damaging it (by crowding it out, damaging the things it needs to survive, etc) is a difficult balance.
And denying yourself the pleasures that may damage a thing is difficult as well (especially if it seems like you're the only one holding back). I freely admit- while I don't go on boat tours of orcas for this reason, I don't think I can entirely give up eating salmon. I justify it that I can only afford to eat salmon every two months or so, while I desperately hope that some genetically modified salmon will come along that tastes just as good as wild-caught, without ANY negative impact on the environment.
I think there are a lot of little things that everyone can do, though, to save the earth (as it were). And I look forward to examining those actions here on my blog, and hopefully inspiring you to do one or two (or, if you already do them, encouraging you to celebrate how amazing you are in doing that!).
Thanks for listening. :)
Labels: environment, happiness, orca