In the U.S. we are preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving this Thursday. It commemorates a moment when early Pilgrim settlers chose to give thanks for what they had at that moment, even when they knew they still were facing formidable obstacles. That is the power of optimism coupled with a strong sense of reality. The glass is half-full but we won't stop until it's over the rim.
Conservation and environmental issues have taken a pretty good beating over the past few years. Since the two depend so heavily on "the kindness of strangers" (as Blanche DuBois once said) or on a benevolent or generous government, funding and government allocations have diminished as nation after nation endures a prolonged depressed economic situation.
And that can lead to the biggest threat of all: apathy. The oceans face many perils, the consequences of which may be many years away but, to gain the upper hand, they need to be dealt with sooner rather than later. Climate change, acidification, overfishing, pollution - they all loom large but they become even more threatening if government officials, policy makers and the everyday individual choose to take their eye off the ball. Distraction leads to disinterest which leads to apathy. Only a crisis can snap us out of it but by then it may be too late.
So that is the biggest challenge we face in filling that glass to the rim. But with that said, we still have a tremendous amount to be thankful for. We continue to achieve significant victories that speak to our optimistic side and fuel our desire to achieve more. Whether it be the growth of substantial marine protected areas, more and stronger legislation regarding shark conservation, forward strides in seafood sustainability through better managed ocean harvesting, or technological innovations in alternative energy - each step is bringing us just that much closer to the kind of stewardship of the planet that will help sustain it . . . and us.
Search through the blogosphere, through social media, or simply type in "ocean conservation victories" in Google. The list is long, it is encouraging, and it reaffirms that what we have done, what we are doing, and what we hope to accomplish is feasible, reasonable, and righteous.
Give thanks today and always.