We humans are a funny bunch- we like to have an emotional connection to things. If we love it, like it or it’s useful, it’s important to us. It matters.
Similarly, I believe strongly that if people can see something amazing in nature, if they experience the earth and sea in all their glory more often, that they feel a greater connection to it and perhaps they will want to save it.
I have never met a person who hasn’t been moved by the sight of a whale, of the impossibly pure blue of lagoon water or a dolphin slicing through a wave. I have never met a person who hasn’t sighed out loud at a vista presented to them as they stand upon the top of a mountain or haven’t just stopped to gaze even just a little at a neon sunset. In short, nature moves us if we connect to it.
Now let us now just take one aspect of nature- the ocean- and look at our behaviour here.
Throughout time, the sea has been integral to our very humanness- it has sustained us, allowed us to travel, trade and learn, it is a part of our DNA, yet unless we work in or around the sea, we simply forget it’s importance. We know more about “space” than we do “sea”. Over 85% of it is unexplored and we are continually discovering new species. Yet, perhaps because of its mysteriousness or because of it immensity we simply don’t care that much about it. The birthplace of life on this planet, due to this disconnection, has become a garbage dump.
To say plastic in the ocean is a problem would be akin to saying a whale is just a big fish. (Wrong on all kinds of levels.) Plastic not only takes years to decompose, as it does it leaves toxins in the sea posioning the waters and it becomes a deadly meal for huge amounts of sea life. Marine biologists say it is rare to do an autopsy on a big fish, sea bird or turtle and not find plastic in the gut. And here is the really awful thing- when the animal dies from ingesting the plastic, the body eventually breaks down, releasing the plastic into the water to kill again. And they say sharks are the perfect killers!
How does the plastic get into the water? Mainly because we use the sea as a trash can. I would be here all day outlining ways we throw waste into the ocean- from littering from cars to deliberate dumping of large tips into the sea- but- all come from a disconnection we seem to have to nature.
A friend of mine, a scuba diving instructor said this to me: “Seeing what is down there changes people. They get that what they do on land has a direct affect to what happens to the creatures they see in the ocean when they dive. The biggest change I see in my dive students is that they start to get angry at the rubbish they see down there.”
To me then one of the greatest and surest ways to halt the rate of destruction of the planet is to get people OUTSIDE. To get them out of the big concrete box into the big green and blue rooms! To get them more connected with a specific part, the sea for example, and that doesn’t even mean they need to get their feet wet!
Walking along a beach, being part of a beach clean up, going sailing, going whale watching- none of these really require you to get very wet! For those that want to connect more deeply try swimming, surfing, diving, snorkeling or all manner of sea based activities that will get you up close and personal with where your human DNA lies!
The idea here is to be ACTIVE in your activism…to actually experience the incredible natural world in which we live.Not everyone can be literally in the front lines in the way of a bulldozer or in front of a whalers harpoon- but we can certainly be active in preventing the need for those things in the first place by making our voices heard and by our numbers.
Next time you want to convince someone that the earth is worth saving, don’t preach. Instead, take them outside. Show them. Simply show them what is there and what may be lost.
Help them fall in love with the planet again. After all, we save what we love.