Monday, January 16, 2012

Filmmaker's Journal: Being reminded of the resources and support conservation needs

This past week, I was away from the RTSea Blog as I was on the road, traveling to Washington, DC and Columbia, South Carolina.

In Washington, DC, I briefly met with the members of the Pew Environment Group's (PEG) Global Shark Conservation Campaign, headed up by Matt Rand. PEG is an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts and their focus is on making inroads in national and international policy. Much of what is currently proving to be fruitful in advancing the cause of shark conservation involves this higher political level. PEG's Global Shark Conservation Campaign has been involved in some noteworthy successes of late, particularly the establishment of shark sanctuaries in Palau and Honduras. The group is now looking forward to an upcoming CITES meeting this year and the next United Nations-sponsored FAO meeting wherein they will discuss revitalizing a decade-old "international plan of action." It's at international events like these that policies regarding the protection of sharks in international waters - outside the borders or boundaries of national marine protected areas or sanctuaries - can be hammered out.

From the U.S. capitol, I then moved south - through a tiring, circuitous route of flights - to Columbia, South Carolina to film a corporate video for a major pharmaceutical company. The location was an oncology (cancer) treatment center and I was very impressed by the range of services and the quality of care this facility was providing cancer patients.

In scouting various potential locations within the center for filming, we were shown many of the treatment areas and, at one point, the head of the facility brought out some of the chemotherapy medications that are currently being used. Some of these medications cost as much as $2500 per injection and patients would be receiving these treatments sometimes as often as twice a week.

It made me ponder on one of the challenges that conservation issues face. Mankind invests a considerable amount of effort and expense in treating disease, partly because, if we look at it as "connect the dots," it's a very short and simple connection. Many of us falter when it comes to, say, issues of diet and obesity because there are a few more dots to connect before we see a consequence that has personal impact.

And for many people, conservation is a long series of connecting dots and the immediate or personal consequences begins to feel remote. But the impact(s) of dismissing conservation are very real, as real as any cancer, and while we all certainly need to care for ourselves and others who may be afflicted by disease, we must also be aware that the planet is ailing and if we choose to ignore this one patient, Earth, we could be setting ourselves up for a terminal condition that is beyond a cure.

As we wrapped up filming after two days, I thought of the hundreds of patients that come through this oncology center's doors each day. It was comforting to know that these people had a place to go and that medications were available, albeit costly because of the challenges in manufacturing and the exclusive nature of these medications. Now, if we can get more people to see that conservation needs as dedicated a commitment in effort and resources, we just might be able to prevent the planet and the human species from flatlining.

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