“Do Not Run” reads the bear safety sign at the end of my early morning run around the lodge in the Grand Teton National Park in Northwest Wyoming. “Too late”, I thought, but I won’t ever do it again, indeed.
Over the years, I have read many newspaper stories about tourists mauled by big wildlife, either swimming in a romantic Aussie murky lagoon, hiking through scenic protected African nature without an expert guide, or taking a picture of their five-year old in front of a “cute” bison here in the USA.
I startled three huge elk that morning, as I ran my fastest 4 miles in a long time, because about half way through the run, I remembered the exciting stories of my colleagues about the bear with her cubs moving around the lodge area the previous evening. It made me think about how often we have consciously put our own survival at risk by not following simple rules for the sake of short-term gratification.
We don’t need to be chased by a bear to know that one should respect and not encroach on wild life habitats. Wild life does thrive in this area of the first National Protected Area in the world, as there are some simple rules that most people stick to. Why can’t we stick to simple rules as DO NOT TRASH, DO NOT WASTE your food, DO NOT FISH in no take zones, and DO NOT TRADE endangered species. Those are just simple rules that help us all live together on this small planet in harmony with the nature that supports our dietary needs and livelihoods.
At the same time, exactly on the other side of the planet in the Coral Triangle, my colleagues and more than 30,000 people from all walks of life just about completed a fantastic second Coral Triangle Day, celebrating the oceans in this most diverse, outstanding region.
Many beach clean ups, awareness events, and sustainable seafood shows had taken place during the day in all Coral Triangle countries http://youtu.be/8CReC3rgadE. The huge display of collaboration between NGOs, governments, local authorities, scientists, celebrities, restaurants, and hotels is so promising for change that matters to the Coral Triangle< http://www.thecoraltriangle.com/day.
But as the last tunes by local rock artists faded and hundreds of volunteers looked over the remains of this event and went about cleaning more plastic, they must have scratched their heads and wondered: ‘did we not learn anything today?’
Of course we did. But individual societal action alone won’t get us to where we need to be. Not even when over 30,000 participate and show that they care.
How many people will truly heed their own “Do Not Run” signs throughout the year when it comes to environmental discipline? Will people continue to live for short-term gratification and not respect how the oceans are already stressed to the limits as they continue to produce food and support jobs for Coral Triangle economies and coastal communities?
I look forward to next year’s Coral Triangle Day and dream about 300,000 people celebrating what these “blue engines” provide for us every day. But unless we as a people get serious about sticking to the rules that are put in place for our own good, we are putting our own survival at risk.