WEEPING FOR THE SHRIMP AND THE ZAMBIANS AND THE MACAQUES
By nature I'm an optimist; to me all glasses are half-full. Though I spend my
days with news about the global environment -- news that is rarely uplifting --
I can usually spot a light at the end of the tunnel, a silver lining, a way out
But every now and then I just lose it. The incoming information crushes me.
Why keep trying? I wonder. Stupidity and short-sightedness are pulling way
ahead of learning and wisdom.
I try not to spread that kind of mood around. I go off alone and wallow in
despair until it passes. It always does pass.
But it occurs to me that it's dishonest to share only the sunny side of my
work. Collectively we are doing terrible things to our world and ourselves.
Despair and grief and anger are totally rational responses.
My most recent breakdown started with a seminar on shrimp at Tufts Veterinary
School. (Yes, there is such a thing as a shrimp vet!) After a day on shrimp
genetics and shrimp diseases, I was horrified. The shrimp industry seems to be
doing everything possible to destroy itself, and the rest of us aren't helping.
We start with the world's most wasteful fishery, where 5 to 10 pounds of other
fish are caught and killed for every pound of shrimp. The favored technique is
bottom-trawling, a practice that plows up the seabed, upsetting the whole
marine food chain. Meanwhile, we landlubbers have a habit of discharging all
kinds of pollutants into coastal waters and estuaries, where shrimp breed.
So we overfish and poison the wild shrimp. But so what? Shrimp farming is a
soaring industry, so profitable that there is a huge temptation to cram shrimp
into artificial ponds as if they were chickens in a modern chicken-factory. As
with chickens, shrimp at high density are subject to disease; every now and
then the ponds are devastated by viruses. The contaminated remains are likely
to be dumped into the ocean, where they infect wild shrimp -- and wild shrimp
are the source of breeding stock for the ponds.
Furthermore, in the growing global market there are few inspection points for
seafood, so shrimp diseases are spreading around the world. Processors import
infected shrimp and heedlessly discard heads and shells into local waters.
Viruses once known only in Asia are showing up in Texas. South American
viruses are appearing in Asia. Both wild and farmed shrimp populations, their
immune systems depressed by pollution and by reduced genetic diversity, are
exposed, like the native Americans who first encountered smallpox, to
completely new diseases.
Well, that day was so depressing that my colleagues and I talked about other
things on the drive back from Boston. One woman told us about her recent stay
in Zambia. She loved the country, loved the people, gave us a heartwarming
"What about AIDS?" I asked her. I had read that Zambia is one of several
African countries where at least 25% of the population is HIV-positive. The
disease carries off young adults of both sexes; average life expectancy has
dropped to 37 years.
"It's everywhere," said my colleague, and her report darkened. People are
constantly going to funerals. Families are stressed, trying to take care of
all the orphans.
I know there's no money in Zambia for expensive treatment, but I asked about
prevention. Do people understand how AIDS spreads? Can they get, do they use
Not much, she replied. Given their history, they don't trust what white people
tell them. And they want to have sex their way.
There was silence in the car for a minute. "My gosh," said another colleague.
"If people with death staring them right in the face can't open their minds and
change their ways, why are we bothering with environmental work at all?"
The next morning, with all that on my mind, I read a Wall Street Journal
article about the economic breakdown in Indonesia. It showed how the widening
gap between the human rich and poor has tragic consequences for the rest of
Taiwanese fishing boats, having overfished their own coasts, are now busy
overfishing the rest of Asia. Compared to the average Indonesian, Taiwanese
trawler captains are fabulously rich. When they pull into Indonesian ports for
provisions, they can buy anything they want.
One thing they want is live baby monkeys. So people trek for days into
supposed nature reserves, searching out the few remaining populations of
endangered black crested macaques. They shoot the mothers and bring the babies
back to the Taiwanese.
Says the Journal: "Aboard the trawler, galley hands bind the monkeys' hands and
feet. Then ..." but you don't want to know what happens then. Suffice it to
say that the last black crested macaques in the world are being caught by
desperately poor Indonesians to satisfy the appetite of rich Taiwanese for
fresh, raw baby monkey brains.
Maybe I was tired. After I read that I had to put my head down on my desk and
sob. I grieved for the monkeys and the orphans and the shrimp and the
heedlessness of the human race. I gave up. Too much is going wrong too fast.
I'm powerless over any of it. Maybe I should just quit writing, researching,
farming, teaching, get a job that pays real money, eat shrimp while they last,
and zonk out on television.
Of course I won't do any of that. But there are days when I wonder why not.
(Donella H. Meadows is an adjunct professor of environmental studies at
Jelenleg Svedorszagban kornyezetvedelmi master programon
tanulok. Szakdolgozat temat keresnek az alabbiakkal
- hulladekgazdalkodas, veszelyes hulladekok (szilad vagy
folyekony), esetleg radioaktiv hulladekok
- talaj vagy talajviztiztitasi lejarasok
- levegotisztasagvedelmi eljarasok
- hoszivattyu vagy mas alternativ energiaforrasok
- kornyezetvedelmi hatasvizsgalat valamilyen muszaki
A szakdolgozatomat - ha ez lehetseges - a skandinav
orszagokban vagy eszak-amerikaban szeretnem megirni. A
tartozkodasom koltsegeit elorelathatolag fedezni tudom.
(Bar sokszor egyes cegek orulnek, hogy valaki feldolgoz egy
temat, amiert kulso ceg megbizasa eseteben rengeteget
Esetleg, ha valaki tudna ebben segiteni, vagy valami mas
otlete van akar a hellyel akar a temaval kapcsolatban,
kerem dobjon meg egy e-maillel.
Cinkeknek mi ugy szoktunk verebmentes madaretetot
csinalni, hogy egyreszt konnyu anyagbol keszitjuk, masreszt
legalabb 35-40 centis kotellel ugy kotjuk fel a fara, hogy
konnyen lengjen. Igy aztan a verebek a rosszabb
repulokepessegukkel nem kepesek rarepulni. Egyebkent
veluk is csak annyi a baj, hogy mig a cinkek "udvariasan"
kivesznek egy szem magot es elrepulnek vele, addig a
verebek szetrugdossak az osszeset es amelyiknek sikerul
odacovekelnie magat az eteto bejaratahoz, az el nem megy
onnan, mig egy erosebb el nem veri. Igy aztan mi a verebek
"ellatmanyat" csak szet szoktuk szorni a fa alatt.
(aztan amikor meg elszaporodnak es nyaron osszesz..nak
mindent, akkor meg alig gyozzuk lelovoldozni oket...hmm)
u.i.: Ja! Nekunk meg semmilyen etetovel/oduval sem sikerult
nyarra idekoltoztetni egyetlen cinket sem, pedig ez csaladi
haz. Volt mar fecske, vorosbegy, de cinke nem.
A verebekkel persze ilyen gond nincs :))