Mission Blue: Jeremy Jackson's Reefs

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Jeremy Jackson covers some of the most pressing issues in marine habitat conservation – not just coral reefs – and I especially like his thoughts on biological pollution.   This is definitely one TED talk worth listening too all the way to the very end, where he offers up some food for thought on our personal responsibility and contribution to the challenges facing habitats in our modern world.

I don’t entirely agree that its “selfishness” that drives our failings when it comes to the natural world.  Selfish behavior seems to imply that we are aware of the impacts of what we are doing, but continue it despite that knowledge.  Jackson said it himself: there are feedback loops inherent in many aquatic systems that we are just now beginning to understand and could not have predicted to exist.   “Selfish” implies that we did depleted resources and altered ecosystems purposefully.

I simply can’t accept that idea. Perhaps its my inner Treehugger speaking, or the eternal optimist in me finding a voice, but I cannot believe that the generations before me sat down with a violent notion in their head that it was us against the planet and that we would drive down what Sylvia Earle calls the “world bank” of natural resources with a gleam in our eye and a thirst for blood in our hearts.

Perhaps its a choice to look at it this way, but I continue to believe that it is ignorance that drives our failures with ecosystem health.  Ignorance all too often bred out of fear or mythology.  I believe that it is a lack of a basic fundamental natural literacy that leads to destructive behavior.   As an environmental educator, that belief is probably necessary to my core values.  And it might be that it is a self delusion… but it is nonetheless a belief I have to hold if I am to continue to teach people with the hopes that what they learn can change the way they view their world and lead their lives.

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2 Responses to “Mission Blue: Jeremy Jackson's Reefs”

  1. Ignorance is the biggest fault in the worldwide population as a whole. But here in the U.S. it may be a combination of selfishness and ignorance. Think of how often we encounter people that are too selfish or lazy to walk the extra 20 steps to a recycle bin and plop a perfectly recyclable plastic bottle in the garbage or, worse yet, on the ground. Why? We know it’s better to recycle, we know it’s good for ourselves and our planet, but it’s just one bottle… right?

    That’s where the ignorance plays in. Humans are selfish to remain comfortable and not expend any more energy than necessary, and ignorant to believe they are the only ones performing these acts or that these actions will play a minute part in the eco-movement as a whole. Maybe it’s this selfish ignorance (or ignorant selfishness?) that plays a part in why most humans fall short on truly following through with their green goals.

    On a side note: I now can’t tell if I spelled selfish or shellfish.

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