Oceans: In Praise of Local Communities, In Criticism of Greedy Agendas

"Oceans" Modified by Author. Original by: http://tinyurl.com/3ofq5nu

I have been on hiatus for the past few days, as my f.a.c.t.s. sustainable fashion business is tying the last few loose ends and will be ready to launch its website on June 20th! :) But, as I missed yesterday’s World Oceans Day, I thought I’d say a few words in honor of Poseidon’s mighty dwelling place. It is, after all, according to President Obama, National Oceans Month.  Oceans are important for a number of reasons. One is that they help strengthen the American economy. Yep, in the keynote address at Capitol Hill Oceans Week 2011,  Dr. Jane Lubchenco stated that:

“According to the National Ocean Economics Program, in 2007 the ocean economy generated over 2.3 million jobs and more than $138 billion of the GDP of the United States. One hundred fifty six million people live in coastal counties, where they hold 69 million jobs that contribute $7.9 trillion to the Nation’s economy.”

You can read the rest of her address for other reasons the oceans are so important for Americans.

One thing in particular that struck my attention was her call for

“An era when we embrace holistic, ecosystem-based management of our oceans.  An era when our scientific understanding of the impacts of humans on coastal and ocean ecosystems is being used to inform our management decisions…

With its bold vision for more holistic, ecosystem-based management of our oceans, the National Ocean Policy fully recognizes the critical importance of partnerships — partnerships that collaborate, cooperate, and coordinate across the federal government, across state, local, regional and tribal levels, and within communities themselves.”

I hope that we can not only understand our human impact on our ocean ecosystems (and all ecosystems), but also make our best effort (much unlike BP’s measly $1 billion donation for restoring the Gulf Coast) to change policies and actions that have a negative impact. Supposedly,

“All ocean users — from recreational and commercial fishermen, boaters, and industry, to environmental groups, scientists, and the public — will have a say in planning for, managing, and sustaining the many human uses that healthy oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes support.”

I hope that becomes a reality and soon. Researchers and governments have long ignored the importance of local communities in efforts to preserve our ecosystems. People that live in these local communities tend to have a rich knowledge of local resources, dynamics of the ecosystem, and are often the most driven to helping monitor and manage their local ecosystems. Why wouldn’t they be more intimately familiar with their surroundings than outside researchers who come in, conduct a few tests, and presume to know the entire context for the problem at hand? It’s not like the people living and working in these communities have a stake in their surrounding environment, right? Why the scientific community and policymakers have not tapped into this opportunity for collaboration more often is beyond me. It is also one of the reasons I love applied anthropology and its propensity to advocate for the needs and voices of the local communities in addressing issues of policy planning, nonprofit agendas, and other organizations/protocol that affect the local people and environment.

"BP Oil Spill" Modified by Author. Original from: http://tinyurl.com/42qp5n9

In the meantime, while the BP Gulf Coast fiasco fueled our government’s attempt to put money into green research for energy alternatives to oil, the big oil companies (ConocoPhillips, Exxon, Shell, Chevron, and a few others) naturally decide to put their money and efforts into building a (supposedly) better deepwater spill containment system “to be permanently placed in the Gulf starting next year” (according to a Wall Street Journal article).  Never mind about coming up with a way to clean up the mess already there. Let’s just keep drilling! Makes me really wonder what exactly BP’s laughable $1 billion downpayment to restore the Gulf Coast will actually go towards… And we actually have to debate whether or not big businesses need more regulation? How about yes, because most big businesses don’t care about the local communities, local economies, ecosystems, and the environments they affect. Making the same mistake twice means you never really cared about it in the first place. And it’s quite obvious that these companies care about only one green item: dollar bills. I wish I could believe there shouldn’t be more regulation, but it seems to me that these oil companies, in particular, are not run by people, but rather money-hungry goblins, disfigured by affluenza, greed, selfishness, and an inability to care about the consequences of their actions. And J.K. Rowling deludes us, goblins are not to be trusted…

Look tomorrow  for my new blog post on buying organic, finally getting back to individual ways on responding to overconsumption.

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Filed under change, change, hope, global solidarity, peace, human rights, energy, environment, environment, Environmental justice, global solidarity, green, Mother Earth, over-consumption

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