Almost every hour I receive some new piece of information that I want to write about on this blog. And yet, as you’ll notice, the posts are spotty. The truth is, there is simply too much to criticize. Just consider the oceans this week.
The IWC met to discuss whether to reopen commercial whaling, which, in terms of ethics, is a return to the Middle Ages. Reporters are still calling Daniel Pauly to get him to address the debate (there is no debate) that whales eat all of our seafood (of course they don’t; we do). Apparently, the IWC did not reach an agreement so things remain the same. Japan, Iceland and Norway will continue to hunt illegally. Greenland did obtain the right to kill 10 humpback whales per year, claiming they need the food. Can we just package up some extra food for Greenland? Maybe we can redirect some BP clean-up funds for food to whaling nations, since sperm whales (which we’ve stopped killing directly but haven’t managed to stop ruining their lives) and dolphins are among the victims in one of the worst environmental disaster in recent history (although people waste time arguing over that statement’s precision). Not that anyone can get too worked up over sperm whales when fishermen are taking their own lives because of the decisions by a clumsy and greedy BP. Yesterday, people all across North America held hands to protest offshore drilling. A friend wondered why they didn’t follow up by giving BP the middle finger. The reason: most people are good. But it doesn’t take many to ruin it for the rest of us (as Craig Welch points out in Shell Games, his riveting tale of the geoduck fishery, which I already promoted and, this week, so does the Washington Post). Due to a small minority of people, Atlantic bluefin tuna are also probably screwed, because the Gulf is one of the two known spawning grounds for this imperiled giant. And if the oil spill doesn’t get the bluefin tuna, the human appetite most surely will, which Paul Greenberg discusses in his heartfelt essay (excerpted from his forthcoming book) in the NYTimes Magazine. As fish like bluefin tuna reach the brink, we can be sure that fishing effort will be redirected to Antarctica, where the Marine Stewardship Council recently certified a krill fishery to the chagrin of conservationists and scientists alike (including me).
That’s just this week in the oceans (and I’m sure I missed a bizillion stories). The land is no better, with a commercial highway proposed that would bisect the Serengeti and cut off one of the world’s greatest migrations. And never mind the financial crisis, which was so perverse and circular that Wall Street’s own analysts don’t even understand it (I am still reeling with disgust after reading Michael Lewis’ The Big Short). There is just so much information and, furthermore, so many causes. It is hard to come to terms with the idea of information overload (as George Dyson elegantly points out in his short essay on kayaks vs. canoes at The Edge) and hard to admit that there could be some point at which learning and caring too much can become paralyzing.