Friday, 15 May 2009
Blog Action Day - Climate Change
As part of the international blog action day on climate change, I am stepping outside of my normal format for my page. As you may have seen in my artist bios, and noticed from my photos, nature is my main theme. I am particularly concerned with environmental issues, and making people aware of the beauty around us that we take for granted and risk losing.
Contemplating writing this post has made me think about what I do. Most people would say that I am contributing to global warming and climate change with my travels. That is something that has always nagged at the back of my mind when I am travelling. I am far from perfect, in fact have never claimed to be, and perhaps it would seem that I don't practice what I preach (and yes, I do preach about environmental issues!) but I try to do my part in all the other areas of my life to offset the carbon footprint from my travels. Rather than go into all that here, I think it's more appropriate to stick to my theme of nature, the environment, the damage we are doing, and what we risk losing. And so I would like to share one of my biggest fears and dreams, and what disturbs me about my travels in Ecuador.
My dream is to travel the world, documenting the amazing natural sights that I visit. But that dream comes with a big fear. I am afraid that before I have the chance to see many of the places on my list, those places will be irreparably altered or damaged, lost to me and future generations because of global warming. It is something that causes me great sadness and fills me with a sense of desperation and urgency. There are so many places on my list. I want to see the glaciers of Patagonia, Antarctica, and Europe. I want to experience winter in the Canadian North. I want to explore many of the Pacific Islands that will be threatened by rising sea water, including returning to the Galapagos. I want to see a Polar Bear in the wild. I want to photograph all these places and the animals that live there, so I can share the wonder and beauty with those who are not able to travel.
My travels in Ecuador have already shown me the impact of thoughtlessness and ignorance, and what is often outright contempt for "outside meddling". No matter where I have traveled in Ecuador (with the exception of the Galapagos Islands, thankfully)I have seen garbage, even in remote mountain areas with no houses for kilometres around. Some areas are worse than others, but in general you can expect to see garbage, or people throwing garbage out of car and bus windows, or pedestrians dropping garbage on the streets, wherever you go. It's especially sad at the beaches, where garbage thrown overboard from boats, along with garbage that is routinely dumped into rivers hundreds of kilometres away in the Sierra, garbage that is carelessly thrown on the beach by visitors, and garbage from the local communities all comes together and collects on the beach at high tide. There are few things more disgusting and disturbing for me than being surrounded by garbage while swimming in the ocean. The photo below, taken on the beach at Puerto Lopez, Manabi, Ecuador, is an example. At first glance we see something that makes us smile: a happy dog enjoying a roll in the sand. But look closely at the background. You will see a band of garbage, mostly plastic, at the high tide line.
This next photo, taken at Ayange, Manabi, Ecuador, is an example of the ignorance about and/or blatant disregard for the endangered and threatened species that Ecuador is so blessed to have. Coral is bleaching and dying world wide, and Sea Stars are a threatened species, but it is normal to find these items for sale on the beaches and along the roadsides of the Ruta del Sol in Eucador. This young girl came running up to me, sent out as soon as her parents noticed the Gringa tourist on the beach, trying to sell her wares. Not knowing at the time that Sea Stars are threatened, and feeling for this poor little girl, I bought several to give to friends and family members. Worse than this, during the months that Sea Stars can be found in abundance along the beaches, it is normal to see families collecting them from the water for fun, then abandoning them to die on the hot sand, or in the parking lots and at bus stops. Senseless slaughter. On the beach near my house in Manta, I regularly rescue Sea Stars along with other by-catch when the locals bring in their nets that they cast from the shore. They don't take kindly to the interference of the Gringa, but I hope to lead by example. Although it is done for the wrong reasons, it is always good to see fishermen make a show of rescuing by-catch when they realize that the blond Gringa is watching.
For more info on Blog Action Day, please visit www.blogactionday.org
More Ways to Get Involved
1. Sign the Tck Tck Tck campaign's "I am ready" pledge supporting an ambitious, fair and binding climate agreement in Copenhagen this fall: tcktcktck.org/people/i-am-ready
2. Register for the 350.org International Day of Climate Action October 24: www.350.org
3. Join the UK Government's "Act on Copenhagen" effort to promote a global deal on climate change: www.actoncopenhagen.decc.gov.uk/en
4. Learn and act with The Nature Conservancy's Planet Change site: change.nature.org
5. Watch and help promote Current TV's green-themed video journalism at: current.com/green
6. Support strong climate legislation in the US by making calls to your Senators with 1Sky: www.1sky.org/call
7. Put yourself on the Vote Earth map and upload your photos, pictures and weblinks to show the world future you want to see: www.earthhour.org/home
8. Put yourself on the Vote Earth map and upload your photos, pictures and weblinks to show the world future you want to see: www.earthhour.org/home
9. Join the Greenpeace cool IT challenge campaign to turn IT industry leaders into climate advocates and solution providers: www.greenpeace.org/international/campaigns/climate-change/cool-it-challenge
10. Add your personal story and tell the world what you will miss the most when you lose it to climate change with the United Nations Foundation Climate Board: www.unfoundation.org/global-issues/climate-and-energy/its-getting-personal
11. Find the latest and most popular climate change actions online at globalwarming.change.org
12. Join the Causecast community and find new ways to get involved with organizations working to end climate change. Watch videos, read news and support one of the many environmental nonprofits on Causcast. www.causecast.org/environment
13. Post to your blog or Twitter account about the impact of climate change on the world's poorest, and then take action with Oxfam International: www.oxfam.org.uk/climate
Example Twitter post: "Find out how #climatechange is already hurting the world's poorest people + take action http://bit.ly/5p5g7 #BAD09 #Oxfam"