THOUGHTS FOR THE NEW MILLENIUM
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.
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
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...
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