30 November 2008

A Lesson from Upton Sinclair

Posted by Dan Satterfield

Do you remember where you have heard that name before?

It as been years since I read it, but the Jungle by Upton Sinclair is still part of required reading in many literature courses.

There is a line in the book that has stuck with me. I may not get it word for word, but it goes like this:
“It’s very hard to convince someone of anything, if their job depends on it being otherwise.”

I would actually change the very hard, to nearly impossible.

Nowhere has this been seen more in the fisheries that are collapsing world wide. It’s probably the most under reported story on the planet.

Fisheries in EVERY ocean are in rapid decline. Many are near collapse, and the biodiversity of the planet is in peril.

I do not like any type of sea food. So, I wonder if I would be willing to give it up.

I think so.

Strawberry shortcake is my favourite desert, and I would certainly give it up if eating them were damaging the planet’s biodiversity. Fudge would be more difficult. (I tell myself that I would go without if I had to!)

If you like Sushi, however, then you need to make a decision now. The Blue Fin Tuna will likely be gone in less than 10 years. The stocks are collapsing due to massive overfishing in the Mediterranean. Most of it goes to Japan, where Sushi is a staple. Scientist warned, that unless the catch was reduced to 15,000 tons yearly, and a ban imposed on any fishing for 9 months a year, the Blue Fin Tuna will be gone in 5 years.

Europe, normally a leader on environmental issues, reduced it to 22,000 tons.

A stunning failure.

Upton Sinclair proves right again. Several organizations have urged boycotts of any store or restaurant that serves the Tuna. I am not sure if it will make a difference, but I am likely to join them.

One of the reasons that no one seems to care enough to change is the lack of education on the environment we live in. Most certainly, I will get emails after this post, saying who cares about a dumb fish. I know, that if these people had even a marginal understanding of how connected this planet’s oceans and atmosphere are, they would realize how ignorant they sound. You either know what a keystone species is, or you don’t.

Most do not.

Biologists, are many times surprised, at the effect removing some seemingly minor species from an ecosystem can have. Soon, we may force to extinction, some seemingly minor species that will have dire consequences on our own. Most of the oxygen you breathe does not come from plants. It comes from microscopic plankton in the Pacific Ocean.

Want to fool around with that food chain?