On World Oceans Day, Make a Pledge to Put Nature First

A message from Dr. Roger Payne

We lucky few who study whales at Ocean Alliance offer our profoundest sympathies to all families whose loved ones have been struck down by Covid-19 or are themselves fighting for their lives.

We also feel that it’s deeply imperative, and ever apt, to look for something positive in every hand that fate deals us. For there is no ill so foul it has not something positive to offer. The job is to find that upbeat moiety, seize it, and bend its course towards a positive goal.

So let us look at this virus in a new light, for despite the swath it is cutting, Covid-19 could be the thing that saves us from our self-inflicted disasters. The reason being that the viciousness of this pandemic seems to be just what was required to launch us into action—to bring us wide awake and bolt upright, with stark-staring eyes. For example:

1) This virus has already demonstrated to us that we can act epically, massively, and immediately. For example: In just 15 days our broken Congress (whose present history is ever pledged to avoiding change of any stripe) has managed to commit $1,800 billion — the largest relief package in human history — towards helping the citizens of this, our beloved country, to survive the disruptions of the current pandemic. How more convincingly could you demonstrate that we can change course, and change it by more and faster than we have ever imagined?

2) People are seeing how much less they truly need  than they thought they “needed.” They are learning that instead of relying on the three major food groups: Frozen, Fast, and Take-Out, that there’s another way to eat: preparing meals yourself, from basic ingredients. Which also invites another way of eating—at table, surrounded by family.

3) Self-isolation has already cleared the world’s skies measurably. And it was achieved willingly.

4) Covid-19 has also done what nothing else could do: it has stopped most travel, and that  caused the price of oil to(briefly) fall below zero dollars per barrel. For oil contractors would pay you to take oil they contracted to accept but have no place to store (though if you accept their money you must find a place to put the oil that comes with it — not so easy). Such an unprecedented economic collapse is not a thing from which recovery will be fast or easy. For some oil companies it will, undoubtedly prove fatal. And it should now be clear, even to the greed-blinded eyes of oil men, that theirs is a dying industry—that the harm they have visited on the environment is now being visited on them, and that there are better, less harmful, more enduring things to sell than fossil fuels.

The oil companies claim that the oil glut blind-sided them. No it didn’t; it is their own blindness that for decades made them ignore the clearest evidence from many sources that fossil fuels were doomed — that if their companies were to have a future they must cease destruction of life’s future with their oil, and do something else with all their massive administrative structure.

6) The virus has united all peoples in common cause to fight it. After all, there is nothing more uniting than a common enemy.

But this Covid-19 disease is just a wee lad. Most of our other self-inflicted disasters are far bigger blokes and have names like global warming, over-population, extinction of species, global pollution, overuse of pesticides, loss of top-soils, over-production, over-consumption, over-fishing, ocean gyres of plastics, persistent organic pollutants fast-saturating all earthly habitats.

But Covid-19 has already given us a great benefit — it has shown us that once we understand how serious a threat is, we can do anything, no matter how unprecedented, to which we set our hearts and minds. We can unite our forces, rise to the occasion, and deal with it.

So join us please, at Ocean Alliance, in taking our World Oceans Day pledge: that henceforth we will put nature first — shape all our actions and thoughts towards the goal of making all that we do serve not just Us, but all life. And with that in mind we will devote our time, our treasure, and our effort to creating a better world for all Life — not just human life… a world I call the Universal We.

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