Well, although life in nature is a beautiful thing to those of us who visit. What about the people left behind? The local fishermen and natives are left to survive, many in poverty as their environments are depleted and the tourist dollars are seasonal. The tourists all go back home to watch football and argue national politics… life as usual.
For the orcas of the San Juans it is not so great. Their food source of wild salmon are packed in ice and shipped across the world to feed the rich. Now I have no issue with the rich in general, but do any really care about those left behind?
Animal lovers the world over, and anyone with a heart recently spent time and energy mourning for the mother orca pushing her dead baby for weeks trying to avoid ships. Animal lovers rallied to save her. I received numerous appeals to help. Greenpeace, Sea Shepherd and just about every other eco-corporation saw this as an opportunity to raise money. Let’s face it, money is the real motivation… Western consumer societies feel good throwing money at problems. It is our way. The question is; does it really do any good except to sweep our guilt under the rug and talk of how the problem has been solved. It has not been solved and usually the issue not only continues to exist, but gets worse.
We began this eco-movement years ago with all the good intentions. We were idealists thinking we could change the world. Paul Watson made his reputation hammering Greenpeace as “the fuller brush salesmen” of the eco-movement. For those too young to know, he meant they went door to door collecting money from home makers to allay their guilt. A huge percentage of their money went into the “volunteers” pockets and the rest went to NGO administration. Did any of their money go to the whales? Not much if any at all, but we all felt we were doing something. The rich got tax breaks, but still the whales suffered.
I, myself, tried to do differently and actually thought I was “better then that”. My plan was to actually show up. I crewed boats, I was willing to do whatever it took, and sacrificed time with my family to do just that. Was it worth it in the end? The jury is still out on that.
In Antarctica huge amounts of money were spent to make this point… but in the end the Japanese are still whaling. Sea Shepherd after paying the Japanese 2.5 million to save the tails of those in power, continue to brag about the few whales saved. The public has forgotten and for most, for them the problem is solved. Much like freeing Willie. I think 20 million was raised on the heels of a popular film. A single orca was released only to die later alone; probably miserable in it’s new although larger prison. Did we care really? I say no. We felt good to release the one orca, an individual who was unsuited for release, but to hell with the whale. Money was raised and Willie had to be released. I can only imagine if the money had been spent; say putting in sewage treatment for the city of Victoria BC which continues to dump raw sewage into whale habitat. I’m just saying that humans need to wake up and stop concentrating on symbols to feel good, and actually try to solve the big picture. The big picture is far more difficult, I know but it must be addressed.
First, the local people who live close to nature have known from the beginning the problem is not solved by saving one whale. Presently we are losing the Southern Resident Orcas of the San Juan Islands. There are numerous issues to be addressed, but many too big for our simple minds to comprehend. We are a media “sound bite” society… if it can’t be summed up in a few sentences we get bored and our money and efforts go elsewhere. Wake up humans, the problem is us!
Stop dumping sewage, plastics and garbage in the oceans. Forget about green lawns and golf courses and think about all those chemicals we are dumping into the environment. Instead of focusing on others, look at yourselves. It is easy to save seals or polar bears… well it is easy to think we can save them while cranking up our air conditioners and increasing our energy demands thinking we are helping. The power used by New York city comes from Montreal Power. Montreal Power has been releasing warm water into the northern ice fields, home to the seals and polar bears, for years melting the very homes these animals need to survive. More power, more ice melt… simple as that. No one hears about Montreal Power because it is huge business and too much money is at stake. Instead blame the auto manufactures. Why blame them? My tribe, the priveledged shite folk, continues to drive huge SUVs and trucks around Los Angeles. When was the last time four-wheel drive was needed in LA? Our solution is to buy hybrids and electric cars without even caring where or how the power is produced. The batteries for hybrids are mostly produced in China where mining and manufacture is hidden. Maybe a solution is to drive less? Maybe the solution is to use less electricity or to choose to expect fewer comforts? These are unbelievable solutions and unacceptable in our modern culture. Not in my back yard is the philosophy we continue to live by. Hide the mining of metals needed for batteries, let the Chinese people… the poor masses, suffer for the elite.
As I sit here in Vancouver and look at the skyscrapers popping up like weeds around town, everyone knows it is Chinese money doing the building. It is probably poetic justice for the native Canadians as the buildings sit empty while local residents can’t afford to live. We are talking of millions and perhaps billions of dollars being dumped or should I say laundered by the elite of China. Where does this money come from in this communist society? From the poor of course. Profits come from western money being paid for cheap products made in China with cheap labor. It is easy to ignore this as we shop at Costco and Walmart to save a few bucks.
I am not trying to depress anyone, I am just suggesting to all that we start looking at the big picture. Stop playing “holier than thou”, when we are the culprits. I am hoping that the young people today with all their access to information might see the light, but I am not so sure. In my life, I am lucky and deal with active and informed young people, but we need to all try harder to live closer to nature and respect the earth we live on. All NGOs need your donations for sure, but look at where it is going. Don’t believe the slick media campaigns and false promises. Take charge yourself and act locally. Humanity has come to a cliff… take a 180 degree turn and continue forward to a simplier life style, and actually help the planet.
Eco-corporations are as much a part of the problem as the industrial giants they hate. It is easier to believe the slogans and crap delivered by groups that the public believes have their best interests at heart. Think for yourself, follow the money, do what is right for the earth.