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Living in balance with the planet
Last week, guest columnist in Guardian Media Cleaning Up The Mess series, Pat Ganase, told us of research in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef being done by two young scientists, Amanda Ford and Anjani Ganase, a Trinidadian student. This week, Ganase wraps up this three-part series, which she has titled The Value of Nature: living on one planet.
The research that these young scientists, Amanda Ford and Anjani Ganase, are doing may seem far removed from the day-to-day challenges of living in the world with traffic and taxes, political intrigues and dangerous dog owners. But the simple fact of their doing it puts a spotlight on a different reality. Families and friends in their spheres of influence far around the other side of the world now have a connection in the Pacific.
What do you know about the Pacific? That it occupies an area more than all the landmass on earth? That it now features a couple of the biggest garbage patches in the world, splintering down plastics to particles fine enough to pass for fish food—causing sea creatures to starve with their bellies full.
Through this tiny peephole to the Pacific, we enter the world of manta rays, sea turtles, sharks, clownfish and coral. Let us become curious about so much that exists beyond human society, and cultivate a sense of wonder. Who knows what we are likely to learn?
That tiny coral animals can build extensive systems and create new islands. That mere specks in the vastness of the universe—like corals, like ourselves—are subject to cycles of growth and decay all tolerated by a largely stable and forgiving earth.
In the face of climate change and altered ecological systems, the challenge as we see it now is to keep our life on earth in balance, to bring our species in harmony with the resources of a finite earth. The risk—if we do not perceive the dangers and do not find ways to adjust human habits—is that our species will be adjusted in radical ways or perish forever like others that outgrew their time and space. The key is an understanding of who we are on the planet and an appreciation of the value of all nature.
There are many ways to learn about nature. Television channels like National Geographic and Animal Planet allow us to explore deep ocean, frigid zones and places where we only travel in our imaginations. Online channels also offer windows into other places here on earth or in the deep sea. Learn more about nature and how we should be interacting on the World Wildlife Web site, www.worldwildlife.org
Here you will find regular updates on endangered species, threatened habitats. Read about the work of scientists and supporters to protect the planet’s biodiversity and mitigate climate change. You can download and read the annual Living Planet Report. Take action through WWF’s Conservation Action Network.
Of course, the best way to learn about nature and to work towards a lifestyle in balance with what the earth can afford is hands on. There are local organisations that protect diversity. For example, you can volunteer with a Giant Leatherback Turtle Conservation project. Visit the Asa Wright Nature Resort and see some of Trinidad’s rare birds.
Our beaches and rivers offer opportunities to learn about what lives on the coasts. Be an advocate for recycling. If you are an animal lover, you can volunteer with the Animal Welfare Network. Become an eco-warrior championing the environment. You may even create your own cause, in favour of nature and living in balance with every other species, even bachacs!
Fortunately, the only tool that we need is the brain: to question whether our actions today are sustainable, whether we “need” all that we believe we should have, to determine whether a mountain is more useful for the rocks to be mined or the wildlife that lives there.
We need to believe that our planet is enough for everyone, and then live accordingly. We can only do this through the wonder and deep understanding of the variety of creatures, and the complex and intricate relationships that make this planet habitable for humans.
If you wish to contribute to this guest series send in your ideas to Ira Mathur at [email protected] or [email protected] and join our facebook page on http://www.facebook.com/cleaningupthemess?ref=ts
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