Worm And The Special Committee On Sustainable Aquaculture
By Bill Henderson
16 November, 2006
new reports - one by an economist
looking at climate change and the other by fisheries scientists
looking at declining
the world's oceans - have both captured the world's attention
predicting humanity threatening disaster by mid-century without an immediate
change of human behavior. Neither report though confronts our present
inability to make change of a needed scale fast enough to ensure a sustainable
We have been so spectacularly
successful as a species that, like yeast in fermenting wine, we risk
impending massive die-off as our population expansion aided by fossil
fuels and technology devours the ecosystem basis for life on Earth.
Humanity's next generations should expect severe resource depletion
and possibly runaway climate change because of this spectacular success.
In this context sustainability
can no longer be flowery greenwashing language merely added on to business
as usual, but the crucial choice of paths
that allow survival.
We're not like yeast in wine. We have consciousness; we can learn from
the past and control our actions in the future. If our scientific investigations
find that we have been overfishing the oceans to such an extent that
we face a future without seafood, we can change our behavior and let
the ocean's biodiversity recover. Can't we?
But imagine Taiwanese or
Japanese legislators investigating their driftnet fishery. Prodded by
this new scientific knowledge can they choose sustainability as a survival
path? In our now full, astronaut/spaceship world where stringent self-regulation
is now necessary, old frontier economy practices such as industrial
fishing down the ocean's foodchain are no longer acceptable - but could
legislators recommend and mandate needed change? Or would job and investment
'balance' still trump and limit change to merely a more cosmetic but
still business as usual fishery?
In BC on Canada's West Coast,
coastal MLAs on a special
legislative committee have been investigating an industry
that feedlots a predator species - salmon - using feed from ocean overfishing.
The salmon farming industry also negatively effects already overfished
and otherwise threatened wild salmon stocks. But given the short term
political need to balance environmental regulation with jobs and investment
we can expect the MLAs to only recommend a more cosmetic salmon farming
business as usual.
Hopefully, leaders in communities
everywhere will learn from the widespread examples of path dependence
continuing natural resource mis-management and demand governance innovation
so that change of a needed scale becomes possible. So that healthy bountiful
oceans supplying food for humanity remains possible.
We desperately need to learn
the lessons of past failure so that critically needed change to a post-carbon
energy economy becomes possible. Right now, even though new scientific
discovery suggests that there is an increasing possibility of non-linear
climate change that could rapidly lead to a world inhospitable to man,
there is no serious debate anywhere considering possible necessary,
non business as usual solutions except for Lester Brown's wartime-style
coalition government Plan B
We urgently need governance
innovation unblocking the structural impediments to needed change in
fisheries, in forestry, in agriculture, in energy development, so that
choosing sustainability as our only path to survival becomes possible.
Or else we just die-off like
any other species.
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