Particular Passions

Particular Passions: Talks with Women who Shaped our Times


Lynn GilbertComment

“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. “ - Jacques Yves CousteauScientists and the fishing industry know the deep sea is teeming with life and are slowly discovering ecosystems that are extraordinary in nature, often hosting species found nowhere else on the planet. Scientists have speculated that more than 10 million species may inhabit the deep sea: biodiversity comparable to the world’s richest tropical rainforests. - Pew Charitable Trust.

Although 71 percent of the planet’s surface is water, remarkably little of the world’s marine environment is protected. The increasing industrialization of our oceans threatens the fragile health of marine ecosystems. If poorly planned or managed, drilling for oil and natural gas in federal waters, developing aquaculture and building wind, wave and tidal energy facilities all have the potential to damage America’s marine environment.

The Pew-managed Global Ocean Legacy project was developed as an outgrowth of work done by the Trust in 2005–2006 to support the creation of a fully protected marine reserve in the northwestern Hawaiian Islands. So little was previously accomplished because most of the areas were relatively small and the benefits were primarily for local environments.

Few nations seemed willing to place off limits world-scale, ecologically significant expanses large enough to protect ocean systems. But the Pew Trust dedicated itself to establishing, at least three to five large, world-class, no-take marine reserves globally over the next decade, providing ocean-scale ecosystem benefits to help conserve our global marine heritage. –Pew Charitable Trust

On land, problems are “crystal clear,” but we can not see what occurs in the water…an irony because it is water that we can see through.

The biosphere has been greatly altered by the demands of human societies. For example, there is the “tale of two cities,” close to each other in an area within the mountainous western highlands of Guatemala which are susceptible to catastrophic landslides and crippling seasonal water shortages due to loss of forest resources. The two cities managed their resources in fundamentally different ways. One city suffered, while the forests were preserved in Totonicapán through strong social institutions and as a result that city achieved greater local economic stability and overall greater human well-being. Wikipedia (summarized, not altered but …with a soupcon of me)..

In the last few years we have had climate catastrophes. Just in America, Sandy, a hurricane rocked New York, Katerina, the horrific storm all but wiped out New Orleans, one of the great historic cities in America. Not to mention 23 earthquakes in the USA of varying sizes in 2012, but with all these other catastrophes, almost too small to note. It started with a Volcano in Mt Hood, which was a shock to the world. At the time it seemed unique. In South East Asia, a tsunami that devastated that area of the world. In Japan, a storm that caused a nuclear disaster.

Global warming has become perhaps the most complicated issue facing world leaders…as an increasing body of science points to rising dangers from the ongoing buildup of human-related greenhouse gases — produced mainly by the burning of fossil fuels and forests. NY Times Oct 25, 2012

“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.” ― Jacques-Yves Cousteau

It is Al Gore with his efforts to galvanize how we deal with the environment that has brought about great change.

Life takes funny turns and twists, not always funny when they are happening. When Al Gore lost the presidential election in 2000, but won the popular vote by 500,000 votes, the loss must have been even more devastating. Defeated, but not defeated he turned to a life long passion: climate change. In his senior year at Harvard, he took a class with oceanographer and global warming theorist Roger Revelle, who had sparked Gore's interest in global warming and other environmental issues.

In a relatively short period of time, since he began focusing his efforts towards the climate outside the political arena, he was recognized for the significant work he had done. He received the Nobel Peace Prize (2007 joint award) a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album (2009), for his book An Inconvenient Truth, a Primetime Emmy Award for Current TV (2007), and a Webby Award (2005). Gore was also the subject of the Academy Award-winning (2007) documentary An Inconvenient Truth. He was also named a runner-up for Time's 2007 Person of the Year.

One man brought about change. Forty Six women,The women in Particular Passions: Talks with Women Who have Shaped our Times, also lived with passion and brought about changes, many of them around the globe.

The Image: Sea anemones, a group of water-dwelling, predatory animals of the order Actiniaria; named after the anemone, a flower, from German biologist Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur (Art Forms of Nature) lithographic prints 1899-1904. Haeckel was influential in early 20th century art, architecture, and design, bridging the gap between science and art. - Wikipedia favorite picture of the day, 2007