The Parable of The Gazelle And The Lion
By Peter D. Capen
11 April, 2014
I am reminded of a gazelle peacefully grazing on the lush new grass of the African savanna. The graceful animal is hungry, and the grass tastes so good. Somewhat apart from the herd, the animal pauses every now and then to lift its head to check for danger. But only momentarily, because it is after all so hungry and the fresh, green grass tastes so good. Little does it know, however, that a lion is slowly creeping forward on its belly through the tall grass towards the unsuspecting gazelle. Nothing but a slight
movement in the grass betrays the lion's presence. Were the gazelle to spot the lion in time, it could easily bolt away from the danger and live to enjoy another day. But it doesn't. It continues peacefully grazing, thereby sealing its fate.
I sometimes think that modern civilization is like the gazelle and global warming is the lion. Our modern culture continues to happily graze on the comforts and distractions cheap fossil fuel energy has made possible, all but oblivious to the peril that it has created in its wake, which is now knocking at our door. But will humans wake up in time to escape their fate? I don't know. Perhaps. But nothing substantive is likely to be done to confront the enormity of the challenges of a planet growing steadily hotter, until we admit to its existence and demand all do their part in solving it.
Peter Capen is an award winning nature photographer, author, lecturer, naturalist, an undersea explorer. Formerly the Executive Director of The Whale Museum and its whale research studies in Friday Harbor, Washington, he was elected a Fellow of the Explorers Club of New York and to the Royal Geographical Society in London. He was also previously on the Board of Directors of the North Cascades Institute. His many articles and photographs on natural history and the environment have been published around the world, including in such publications as Reader’s Digest, Smithsonian, California Living, Pacific Discovery, Tauchen, International Wildlife (UK), the Scientific Science Supplement, and the New Book of Knowledge. Peter currently lives in Tacoma, Washington with his wife Phenprapa and teaches writing at a local technical community college.
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