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Thoughts for New Year 2006

grouper with cleaner shrimp

Another year has flown by, and the speed at which this happening every year seems to accelerate exponentially. It makes me more aware of how little time is left to accomplish the goals I have set so many years ago….

One of my many goals, (aside from saving the earth in a single bound), was to try and teach people about our natural world through photography. Locally, I show people the natural world of Florida on my guided tours - where they get to see with their own eyes the treasures both on land and underwater.

Several things have become apparent in the last few years, however- I am fighting the exact same environmental fights that I fought for over 50 years ago as a young teenager. It is so discouraging and frustrating to see that our goals of managing this earth and its inhabitants in a fashion where it can remain sustainable and where we can live peacefully with everything and everyone seems to be out of our grasp. Sometimes I wonder if the human race has forgotten how to reason and think. We live with a credit card mentality - use it up now and worry about paying for it later- and hoping someone else pays for it. My passion for photography and diving is tempered by the realities of our dying waterways and an ailing planet. Our earth and oceans are in real trouble, and it is only getting worse. Aside from the loss of enormous amounts of habitat on land, recent studies have shown that over 90% of the big fish in the oceans are gone due to over fishing. Think about that…90%…that means almost all the swordfish, marlin, bluefin tuna, and sharks have vanished. We can’t just order more from the factory. Our beloved Florida Keys coral reefs have been declared a dead zone. We really have no concept of how grave this loss really is.

SnookI often wonder why we are not more outraged at what is happening, but now have come to understand that few people even know about it, and more probably couldn’t care less. They are far more interested what the newest celebrities are up to, and when can they get the next electronic gadget. How can we possibly combat global warming, world wide over fishing, the loss of habitats due to developments, and rising sea temperatures?
The other thing that has become apparent is what is called the “shifting baseline”. Young people today, when see the natural world, have accepted what they see as to the health of the environment as “normal” because that is their baseline. My baseline goes back more than 60 years, and my parents and grandparents’ baselines go even further. We remembered when fish were plentiful; multitudes of birds filled the skies, we still had forests and habitats, and places like Crystal River were named because the water was as clear as crystal. No more…. The question really is, “what is the normal baseline, and how can we achieve it?”
As a photographer, communicator and diver, the best I can do is make people aware of what is happening. You can do the same, and become well informed so we can effect change. For example, if you knew about the depleted fish stocks, maybe you would make different choices on what you eat. How about voting for politicians based on their environmental positions? Step by step, little by little, maybe we can not only win the battles, but also make sure we do not have to fight them again later, as I have felt like I having been doing for so long again and again.
The fact is, it is our choice whether or not we can bring about these changes. Will we protect what we love? Do you care about the future of your children and the legacy you leave behind?

I hope it is not too late, but the choice is ours.

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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