I have just published a small post in the blog of the Institute of The Environment at the University of Ottawa, where I am currently a student for a M.Sc degree in Environmental Sustainability. It was written upon a request and it is about our first week of the M.Sc program, my reflections on it, and my thoughts on the meaning of sustainability.
A few weeks ago, I had a discussion with some guy approximately my age on environmental awareness in today’s world. During our conversation, we began speaking on whether the concerns for ecological well-being of our planet are well-grounded.
Touching upon my favorite topic fueled my ardor, and I began to enthusiastically argue with my interlocutor, who, after proudly proclaiming himself as a staunch supporter of conservative ideology with a sheer disdain for “all that leftist mumbo-jumbo” (among which he reckoned the ideas I was communicating), was counterattacking my arguments just as ardently. Luckily for me, the guy didn’t seem over-zealous to the point where any meaningful discussion splits upon a rock of a blatant narrow-mindedness and being stubborn on principle, and so our conversation carried on to the following point.
Sharp decline in number of bumblebees, which are one of the world’s most important pollinators, driven primarily by habitat loss, declines in floral abundance and use of poisonous chemicals in agriculture, is causing a great concern worldwide.
Read more on this on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species’ website: http://support.iucnredlist.org/updates/life-and-death-humble-bumblebee
But if you think that this is a completely new phenomenon, you are mistaken. Read about decline in bumblebee species in the past 60 years in an academic paper called “Decline and conservation of bumble bees” by Goulson D, Lye GC, Darvill B.
Pennsylvania photographer James Balog is known for his works that explore the relationship between humans and nature. But his most known project, called Extreme Ice Survey, is a unique study of melting glaciers of our planet.
Balog employs time-lapse static cameras, installed in many different places in the world, in order to document the historical change of landscape, which is impossible to be fully grasped by the human eye – the melting of enormous bodies of dense ice, the glaciers, the process known as ice calving. His team has set up 43 time-lapse cameras at 18 glaciers in Greenland, Iceland, Alaska, Canada, the Nepalese Himalaya (with cameras installed at Mountain Everest), and at the Rocky Mountains.
What they caught on film (or, rather, on large-capacity professional memory cards) since 2007, is both astonishing, and terrifying. James Balog and his team were able to prove that glaciers disappear at an alarming rate.
A dying seabird covered in oil. A sea turtle whose body is divided into two halves because of a plastic ring she could not escape from when she was young. A seal whose neck is slowly and painfully being cut in half by a piece of a copper wire that somehow got wrapped around. A sea bay full of toxic waste and a lake filled with dead fish, and other photos that colorfully exhibit what we, humans, are doing to this planet. Our pleasures, convenience, and comfort – the cornerstones of the modern living – do not come out of thin air, and are taking its toll on the planet. Garbage left after making us pleased does not go anywhere, either.
There are a few thoughts that I would like to share with you today.
A lot of cruel things are happening in the world as we speak. Some say, they always did and they will always continue to happen. Perhaps it is true.
But I believe in progress of consciousness and spirit. Nature has given us the brain to develop not only our intelligence, but also our perceiving abilities. We have to teach ourselves and those who will come after us to perceive the surrounding world with sensitiveness and consideration, not just for our precious selves, but for everyone and everything that we share this planet with.
Much respect to Matsumura-san, resident of Tomioka, Fukushima Prefecture in Japan.
Until March 11th, 2011, he was a 50-year-old rice farmer in fifth generation, living, like his ancestors, in harmony with what mother nature gave him, always making sure she can replenish what he took from her.
When Fukushima nuclear power plant exploded as a consequence of Tohoku earthquake and a subsequent tsunami, the radiation levels in the area reached 17 times its normal amount, and it became obvious that living in the area of Tomioka was too dangerous. The residents were ordered to abandon Tohoku.
In May, 2011, the Japanese government ordered to kill all livestock due to lack of care and food.
Naoto Matsumura did not agree with this.
He returned to live in the deserted village of Tomioka to save those abandoned animals who could still be helped.