Yucatan Dispatch 18 November 3, 2009 from Alacranes, Mexico
I’m sitting on the edge of an Island, watching the sun set over the ocean. The only thing that gives pause to the feeling that I’m completely alone out here is a distant lighthouse, on an Island that is itself far from any real sort of “civilization.” I’m alone as I watch the colors reflect in the perfectly formed little waves as they run up white sand forming perfect little barrels for imaginary miniature surfers. Sunsets will happen until the end of the world. Until the earth ceases to orbit the sun. Long after we have exhausted all of the oceans resources, the colors will still be there, but will they still hold the same power over us?
Looking out over the ocean, we see the unknown. We see a vastness. The inky black depths that hide unknown sea creatures, all implied by the deep ocean swells rolling across the horizon. We see a world that we know very little about, and fear.
It is because of that fear, that we’ve managed to ignore the fact that we’ve all but eliminated the creatures that live there. Most of us are not seeing this decline on a daily basis, so we find it hard to imagine, and since we don’t really understand the implications of a dead ocean, we don’t fear the consequences.
Phytoplankton, the microscopic plants that bloom in the ocean produce between 50-90 percent of the earths oxygen. All life on earth depends on oxygen at some point in it’s lifecycle. An ocean without phytoplankton is a world without sufficient oxygen.
It is only a matter of time until we have no choice but to make an effort to “save the ocean.” That effort will be born out of fear for ourselves, and not compassion for the creatures that live there.
Think for a moment, about what this planet would be like without humans. The sun would still set, with all of the same glory that it carries with it now. The plains of North America would be running rampant with vast herds of buffalo. Elephants would not be on the verge of extinction. In fact, all of the animals that suffered extinction at the hand of humanity would still be flourishing in the wild.
Imagine the ocean though, what would the ocean look like without human influence. It’s hard for us to imagine what that might look like, because most of us have never seen anything close to the natural state of things.
As perfect as this world would be, there would be nobody there to appreciate it. Who would sit and watch the sun set, and ponder the vast depths, and the magnificent creatures that lie just beyond the scope of our imagination? In the not to distant future when we look out over a dead ocean and watch a beautiful sunset we will be looking at a monument to our own greed, and our inability to change our course.