Earlier this week Obama created the world’s largest ocean reserve, building on a project Bush started in 2006. The reserve is about the size of three Californias and protects the coral reef, the fishes, the whales and dolphins, and all the plant life and everything else floating around the area. It’s big news and it’s very important. This isn’t the first ocean reserve, but it’s size and location are what really matter. It’s around the northwestern islands of Hawaii.
The entire earth is threatened by climate change, and this area is globally considered to be one of the healthiest areas for supporting ocean life and most likely to survive the damage of climate change. However, people are still pissed because a) Obama did it, and b) it’s a no-fishing zone, which negatively impacts the fishing industry.
Additionally Roxanne Quimby, the co-founder of Burt’s Bees donated 87,500 acres in Maine to the federal government. Obama made the forest a national monument, and therefore also protected from the logging industry. People are also pissed about that because a) Obama, and b)???(because it was private land before and I’m pretty sure has never been used for the logging industry.)
In both of these cases, the negative reactions are largely coming from local governments who believe that the federal government should not set aside lands or oceans for national monuments but that the people in the region should decide. I understand where they’re coming from but I completely disagree.
The big picture is conservation and creating federally protected lands guarantees that there will be spaces in America that aren’t tapped by private corporations and destroyed to make a profit. These lands are parts of America as a whole, they represent the beauty and natural variety of the country. Local governments have different interests, like creating jobs and pumping up their economies. Again, I understand it but I disagree. I mean, let’s say Arlo’s Logging Corp bought the land and hired 100 small town workers to take down the forests and they all make a ton of money. But what happens when they deforested the entire area and there’s nothing? It’s not just a superficial loss, but the environmental impact goes way farther. When a land is deforested, the ground no longer has shade and the soil starts to lose its moisture and the plants in the area all dry out (fire hazard) and the animals that lived in the area are now homeless and eventually die because they have nowhere else to go. The entire ecosystem is thrown off and makes it susceptible to all sorts of natural disasters; droughts, fires, floods.
The dangers of over-fishing and ocean destruction are also set to fuck us up long-term. If we kill the coral reef, that entire ecosystem becomes barren because nothing can live there. Over-fishing disturbs the balance of the region, and is directly responsible for the decline in the fish population. The fish aren’t reproducing themselves as fast as they are being fished. The predators in the ocean lose their food source and die. Ocean pollution kills the plant life, which is responsible for 68% of our oxygen supply (Rainforests supply about 30% and the other 2% comes from other sources.) So again in the big picture and the long-term, it’s gotta stop and creating reserves helps that process.
These are the negative effects of capitalism when it comes to the environment. As long as there is money to be made, there will be people reaping the resources until there is nothing left. What I don’t understand is that the jobs that are lost from protecting these lands can be created in sustainable resources. At this point we all know that there are many energy alternatives other than oil, but we are still slave to Big Oil because the people in charge will not stop until there is nothing left. They create a lot of jobs that pay well so we participate because we need bread on the table. But until we start thinking about the long-term and converting to sustainable resources, we’re eating ourselves.
This is the kind of stuff I want to be involved in after I get my MPA. This is why I’m passionate about it and I will never shut up until things get better.
Also do not get me started on Big Agriculture and what it’s doing to the rain forests and surrounding lands and water supply. (Actually, do get me started so we can engage in lively conversation)
PS- Thanks Obama