‘Drowning, As You Like It’

Frozen Fish

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the fish and sea-life merely puppets.”

This is what I imagine Shakespeare would have said, had he been born into the 21st century.

Photography Blog Introduction:

Each of my following blog posts will be themed around one piece of provocative original photography, that will embody the message of the post. I will be photographing in preparation for, and during, my visit to the 2018 World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) Delegate Liaison Meeting in Montreux.

Whilst many point the fingers at the lone fisherman making a living, human industrial activity is the biggest fishing net of them all, sadly capturing more sea life than attention.
But I for one am hooked.

It is true that 90% of fish stocks are overexploited, and this is a problem. If you’re interested in this side of the sustainability debate, there is a great article on this here: https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/feb/16/overfishing-is-as-big-a-threat-to-humanity-as-it-is-to-our-oceans

However, the focus of this post is on our impact on marine life. Whilst some leaders of this world might brush off industrial-lead climate change as Much Ado About Nothing, our romance with the environment couldn’t be more of a tragedy.

Following the fireworks into 2018, the curtains lifted to the news that global ice levels had hit a record low. In both hemispheres, the highest volume of sea was exposed to sunlight since records begun (1). With less sea-ice, the problem just gets worse; rather than 85% of sunlight being reflected off the glaciers, 93% gets absorbed by the dark ocean surface (2). Consequently, the effects on sea surface temperatures and the marine life that thrive in them increase exponentially.

This reflects the 0.7°C increase in global temperature experienced since the industrial revolution – a figure that’s set to grow by up to 8 times by the year 2100 according to The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (3).

Among our marine friends directly affected by sea temperature change is plankton, the base diet for most sea life. This leads to the compression of marine habitats. Fish in the North Sea are now having to migrate further North and to deeper oceans to survive, whilst penguins are simply losing their icy habitat altogether.

I gave this post its title as a reminder of where ownership for these issues lies. People seem all too happy to put a comfortable life over the life of our co-inhabitants.

Part 2

“…they have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts.”

The question here on in is, what part are you playing?

Interestingly, not everyone is looking for a solution. Michael Wolovik, a postdoc from Princeton University, is so sure that the societal shift towards sustainability in current generations is moving so slowly, he’s looking towards mega-engineering to buy us more time (4). Since 2016, he’s been exploring whether constructing giant underwater sea walls, hundreds of miles long, can divert ocean jet streams away from glaciers – potentially extending their life by up to 10 times. An extreme solution, right? Or maybe only as extreme as the problem….

The focus at the WBCSD however is about leading solutions for corporations. If this is the domain you work in, these are the discussions you ought to be paying attention to. This is where the real leaders of today are congregating. They’re not only leading people, they’re leading social change.

Remember, you don’t have to be a CEO or on the board of exec’s to be a leader. If you can raise the issues of sustainability in any business and do as little as ignite the initial discussion, you are a leader of change, and a pioneer in your thinking.

If after reading this you’re urging for change to happen now, it’s your responsibility to bring these issues into the spotlight, to truly embed sustainability into every business decision and help reverse these processes.

I’d like to end this post on one of my favourite Shakespeare quotes, that embodies the thinking we must all adopt in the field of sustainability, living in a pre-sustainable era:

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny, but in ourselves.”

By Michael Kinder, 2nd April 2018

References & Further Reading:

  1. Beitler J. Sea ice tracking low in both hemespheres. National Snow & Ice Data Centre. 2018 Febuary; 1(1).
  2. Carbon Brief. carbonbrief.org. [Online].; 2013 [cited 2018 April 2. Available from: https://www.carbonbrief.org/five-reasons-why-the-speed-of-arctic-sea-ice-loss-matters.
  3. wwf.panda.org/. [Online].; 2018 [cited 2018 April 2. Available from: http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/blue_planet/problems/climate_change/.
  4. The Atlantic. theatlantic.com. [Online].; 2018 [cited 2018 April 2. Available from: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/01/a-new-geo-engineering-proposal-to-stop-sea-level-rise/550214/.
  5. Benjamin S. Halpern et al., Spatial and temporal changes in cumulative human impacts on the world’s ocean. Nature Communications. 2015 July; 1(1).

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