Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Sharks and the Gold Standard

People always think that they are not the ones who will have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Even less do they ever truly consider what those consequences might actually be...

I was presenting on behalf of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society during the summer at the peak of Sea Shepherd's shark defence campaign, Op Requiem.  During my presentation I mentioned that the biomass of sharks left in the oceans compared with 20 years ago was estimated at no more than 2% of what it had been.  It is really hard to get a definitive reference for that figure but we can estimate the numbers being killed every year from Hong Kong shark fin auction records and it must be obvious to all that you cannot remove up to 100 million (yes I did say one hundred million) apex predators from the ocean EVERY year without having an impact.  Underwater studies where sharks have been removed consistently show new aquatic wastelands where previously there had been the most amazing and healthy biodiversity: biodiversity that produces most of the oxygen we breathe! (Google that one if you will, I used the terms - phytoplankton oxygen production - and the results give you a wide choice of scary considerations...)

During the Q & A session a chap who had earlier introduced himself as a financier and bullion dealer asked me if, "...[that] really mattered in the grand scheme of things?"

My response was to ask him what would happen if someone found a way to make gold disappear; not just steal it, actually remove it from the planet?  Reverse alchemy it from gold back to a base metal if you like.  What would be the result if, today, there was only 2% of the gold left in the World that had existed 20 years ago?

"Impossible!" he said, "Our entire economic system would collapse.  The World simply could not survive as we know it if that happened.  It would be a disaster.  Everything we know would have to change...."   I am quoting him accurately.  While he was saying this he visibly blanched.

So what is the result of removing an entire order of animal from the planet?  If you have read this far could I ask you to think about the consequences of that...

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Physician, Heal Thyself

Some days it is hard to find the silver lining.  Last night I half-slept and half-nightmared-awake as I followed the latest events from the killing cove at Taiji in Japan on Taiji Dolphin Defense Livestream TV and stayed up to date with posts about the latest atrocity on the Cove Guardians' Facebook page.  None of it was good.  It hurts the mind so badly it causes real physical harm as well - sleep deprivation isn't the half of it.

Our Western culture has developed a means of treating these ailments.  We treat them with a combination of sticking our head in the sand and - for the wee bits of horror that still somehow manage to sneak through - we treat them with pills (anti-depressants) and potions (alcohol).  We far too rarely treat the mind and we even more rarely devote our time and energy to attacking the root cause that has brought the problem to bear in the first place.

If you have clicked on either of the links above, you will realise that this isn't actually a medical blog today, despite the title.  Today's blog is about me healing myself.

Step 1: remove the blinkers; acknowledge that some bad stuff (some really bad stuff) is happening out there; resolve not to let it break me because that helps no-one, least of all the dolphins and pilot whales in Taiji's killing zone; resolve to do something about it.

Step 2: recognise the new-world version of pills and potions for the otherwise enlightened - facebook

Facebook, AKA, the illusion of doing something whilst actually not doing anything at all.  How much awareness can you actually raise if all you do is tell people who already know the same horror stories they have been telling you in an endless loop of ever decreasing circles of people who genuinely care but have trapped themselves in a hidden zone - hidden from the rest of the World because the rest of the World is still quite happily sticking its collective head in the sand we have managed to avoid.

Step 3: make sure that I (and anyone still reading this) understand what real action involves.  You either get yourself out to Taiji or you dig deep, stick your hand as far into your pocket as you can reach, take out as much money as you can afford - and we can always afford more than we think - and make sure you give it to someone who will go to Taiji.

Or do both.

If you have read this far, please click on this link Help send Anna to Taiji and take the time to look at this appeal from my best friend and fellow Sea Shepherd, Anna.  She spends all her time raising money for and giving money to Sea Shepherd (even when she needs it more for herself) Let's see if we can help her get a bit closer to Taiji:

Help send Anna to Taiji  Please support her and every other Cove Guardian.  Let them stop this horror.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Crew on Spaceship Earth


Crew for Spaceship Earth

To be considered as crew on Spaceship Earth, please answer the following questions:

  1. Name
  2. Species
  3. How well do you think you will interact with the other species on board?
  4. Have you ever deliberately killed one of your own or one of the other species?
  5. Have you ever allowed that to be done on your behalf?
  6. Even just by ignoring pollution and other man-made harm?
  7. Even just by ignoring deliberate killings that (you think) don't affect you?
  8. If we had already employed you as crew, how do you think that would have helped the spaceship on its journey in the last:
    1. Month?
    2. Year?
    3. Life to Date?
  9. Do you think your relevant Spaceship Earth Crew skills are becoming better or not?
  10. If there was only one crew position remaining, why should you get it before anyone else?

If unsuccessful in your application as crew you may be interested to know that we are also willing to consider applications for persons wishing to travel as passengers.

Passengers for Spaceship Earth

Please answer the following questions:

  1. If you are not willing to be crew, how much are you willing to pay for the journey?
  2. Which part of the spaceship would you least like to be accommodated in?
  3. Why is fixing that part of the spaceship not your responsibility?
  4. If it was a competition to win the last available place on board complete this tie-breaker in no more than 250 words:   Tell us why we should invite you on board?

If there really was an interview to be allowed to stay on the planet, how confident would any of us be that we would pass it?

Saturday, 27 October 2012

First Do No Harm

Primum non nocere, first do no harm, a Latin phrase that has been around since before the Hippocratic oath was drafted.  How curious that our thoughts for centuries on how we harm ourselves have been applied to direct harm upon the physical human body with no thought to early intervention, early prevention even though we clearly had the language and intelligence to make that logical connection.

In this blog I expect most of my posts to reflect on the indirect harm we cause ourselves by allowing harm to those others we share the planet with, our fellow earthlings.  I expect most of them will reflect on our ability to harm our friends in the oceans.  I hope a few will inspire others to join with my growing family of Sea Shepherds to first do no harm and then maybe, just maybe, we can start repairing some of the damage we have caused.

Picture credit:  Srikant  Jakilinki

Sooner or later, harm to our planet, especially harm to our oceans, does cause real physical harm to us, it just takes rather longer to show than the harm caused by a medical blunder.  But even if it causes no immediate physical harm, it causes real emotional harm for anyone willing to open their eyes and see what is going on.  For those not willing to open their eyes, it has harmed you already, you are trapped in your own, private, mental panic room - it might not be able to harm you in there, but you can't get out either.  It's called a panic room for good reason.

So welcome to my blog, I hope it will be an interesting journey for us all and remember, first do no harm.