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THOUGHTS FOR THE NEW MILLENIUM

Injured Manatee Injured manatee - This manatee was injured so she cannot float in the water (note her back)- she scoots along the bottom, and with great effort, pushes her way to the surface to breathe. She stays
in 4' of water or less, or she may drown. There are less than 2500 of the gentle creatures left. Taken with a Nikonos V - 15mm lens.

As we enter this New Year, many of us spend some time and look back on events from times past, and some of us also try and look forward to what may be in our futures. Some of you are optimistic about our future...I am not.

Part of the reason so many of us love nature photography is to show others the beauty and wonders of our natural world, and part of it is to show the world of what has been, and never will be again. I find, after more than 40 years of taking photographs, that I am taking more and more shots of our plants, animals and landscapes, both on land and underwater, to document for future generations what they may never see.

Humans have a remarkable ability to adapt to change, increasing our populations to every corner on Earth and along the way, exterminating any species that gets in our way. There is no place on this planet too remote or too forsaken, that we have not sought to develop for profit or pleasure. We have long forgotten that humans without all the plants and animals, are humans without anything at all. Every extinction brings us closer to our own demise...

We also forget things very easily. Remember when we didn't have to think about the poisons in our air, in our meat and fish? Remember when there were fish? Remember when you could drink from a clean mountain stream, or even your tap or well? Notice how now we accept drinking water from bottles that cost more than gasoline? And because it is so much easier to forget, we accept things, believing it to be better, replacing quality with quantitiy. What has happened to our quality of life?

Humans also seem to live with a "credit card mentality" -not giving much thought to the future. We take what we need Now, whenever we want it. Once we used up the animals and the plants, we moved on. Now, we have nowhere else to move. In the meantime, we are fighting each other over cultural differences, providing the breeding ground for conflict and prejudice. We do not see each other as the part of the same species, but as a competing subspecies. We have drawn imaginary lines as borders, forcing people to stay within its limits. Look at the island of Haiti and the Dominican Republic - divided in the middle - one side devoid of vegetation, their coral reefs and fish destroyed by runoff and overfishing, their people the poorest in this hemisphere; the other side green, with a growing industry to attract scuba divers to dive their reefs. However, the Law of Finite Growth states that there are limits to growth. Yet, the strength of an ecosystem is dependent on the diversity of the species within it. And lastly, we are utterly dependent upon the existence of other species for our own survival. What do we think will happen if we do not adhere to these laws? We will collapse as a human race due to the lack of habitat. Throughout the course of history, no species has ever survived unless these basic laws of ecology have been adhered to .

Soon, most of our wildlife will have to be confined to zoos, for their own protection, because we have taken and destroyed their habitat. We have already forgotten the numerous and varied species that have been been destroyed even in our own lifetimes. We dismiss each incident as an abberation, forgetting that the abberations are becoming the norm, happening at a faster and faster pace. We blame many of these eradications on the weather, changing climates, anything but ourselves. Why do we slaughter thousands of people in defense of oilwells, and do nothing to defend the wild? Is it because nature is not anything we can relate to, and it is not part of our system of values?

There are some of us who cannot accept this, but we see no escape either. So, there is anger, frustration and a feeling of hopelessness. I have come to realize that not many things will change in what is left of my life....but those of you with children, should you not teach them, that they can change things? What is a millennium to the Earth, but a mere blink of an eye? The best legacy that we can give is not in what we can create, but what we do not destroy. Teach your children the noblest thing they can do is to preserve species and biodiversity. Our pictures will fade in time, but maybe our home doesn't have to.

Happy New Year...

Please feel free to respond to any of the articles, and if you have news you wish to share, please email me at pgoldberg@goldenimages-photo-scuba.com .

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