Friday, June 4, 2010

Just Briefly...

I know you’re all probably sick of hearing about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. You should be. None of us want to hear about it. We all wish it just wasn't happening. But I can’t really resist throwing in my two cents. I’m having some serious frustrations. The first is that everyone is freaking out as if this is the craziest thing that has ever happened. Don’t get me wrong: it is awful. But I will try to continue to refrain from using language like tragedy and disaster. Things like this happen every year in other parts of the world (Nigeria seems to be a popular talking point) and I strongly feel that in some way Americans should see what our out of control oil consumption is really doing to local ecosystems. And wait…what about all that CO2 we are poisoning the ecosystems with every day? How come we’re not talking about that?

Directly related to that, each time I have a conversation with a visitor at work it goes directly back to the animals. I try to link it to personal consumption, reducing ones own use of petroleum products but it has seemed (this is my personal experience) that the words don’t hit home. I’m glad they care about the kemp’s ridley sea turtles and other charismatic creatures of the Gulf. But if they aren’t able to see that their own actions are directly linked with the spill…well I’m just not sure we’re making progress.

And lastly, I was going to write about children and conservation this morning and how, for the most part, it is easy to recruit younger folks into the movement. Children have a seemingly innate love of animals and that can easily be translated into passion (though possibly blind passion) for environmentalism. With this issue (the spill) I’m not sure it works that way at all. Children are only consumers of fossil fuels indirectly through their parents. Sure we could encourage (and often do) that they talk with their parents about these issues but ultimately the grown ups are the ones making the big decisions about what car to buy and what house to buy and how to heat the home and, much more importantly, what stuff and what food to buy. I don’t have the heart to advocate that a child not buy a plastic action figure. I know. I hate plastic. I hate useless stuff. But children love action figures. Heck, I still have a hard time resisting them. For whatever bizarre reason the Star Wars, Comic Book, LOTR nerd has a hard time being confronted with plastic reproductions of his/her favorite characters. Honestly a child’s happiness is worth a little more plastic in the world. It’s a though scale to weigh.

OK, that’s my oil spill rant. You won’t be hearing any more about it from me. I get the inclination through the Marine Educator’s listserv and coworkers that some have had slightly more positive educational experiences using this ugliness as a teachable moment. Stories, please!

And I’ll try to bring you something a little more cheery by the end of the day. Even if it’s just a photo.

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