Friday, June 18, 2010

The Courage to See

"Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe. " - John Muir

Over/under, or split photography is the convergence of two worlds as one in a single image. Half the camera is submerged underwater, while the upper half chronicles life above the water line. A great over/under photo provides viewers with that rare and vital glimpse that there really is no division between these "two" worlds.

Kim Kasabian
Over Under 1 Acrylic on Canvas 18" x 24"

When you consider that 71% of Earth is covered in water, it's safe to say that we really don't know what goes on in the natural world on a daily basis. And as such, we often don't understand the impact underwater of what we do above and vice versa. There's been more talk of this lately in the wake of global warming, what with islands disappearing, storms increasing in strength, temperatures rising. But for the most part, when it comes to understanding and respecting our world underwater, we're like children - what we don't see doesn't exist and therefore doesn't concern us.

That is, until something happens that is so big, it's impossible to ignore it. I'm not talking about the sleeping giants like overfishing, dead zones or the Northern Pacific Gyre. I'm speaking, of course, about the BP oil spill. Roughly 2.5 million gallons per day. That's 150,000,000 gallons as of Sunday, June 20, 2010 the 60th day of the oil spill. Officials estimate that every four days, the amount gushing from the Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico is equal to a spill the size of the Exxon Valdez. Every four days. To make matters worse, beach clean-up of Louisiana's marshy, sandy shore will be exponentially more difficult than that of the rocky Alaskan coastline in Prince William Sound. Disaster of this magnitude is hard to imagine. It's too big. Too terrible. Too important not to be front page news every single day. Too devastating to ignore. Right? Right?

I know there have been protests, demonstrations, stories about the poor Louisiana oyster fisherman whose prey is dying by the day. But go ahead and Google "oil spill" and "protest" and you'll find a sprinkling of stories about how hundreds or dozens of people stood in protest to the BP oil spill. Hundreds? In a country of 309,000,000? Where are we? What do we stand for? And more importantly, what kind of future do we want to see for ourselves?

I know what I want. I want to to walk on a beach in Louisiana and not see brown crude oil oozing up from my footprints in the sand. I want to one day swim in the Gulf and see seahorses, bluefin tuna and oysters thriving in their natural environment, while brown pelicans gracefully fly overhead. When I walk out of the water, I want to see my skin glisten with beads of salty seawater, not slick from reddish-brown sludge oozing down my arm.

BP drilled a hole in the ocean and started this mess. But they can not shoulder the blame alone. If we have the courage to open our eyes and look underwater, we can begin to forge connections between land and sea. Our car and its dependence upon fossil fuel energy. Our plate of sushi and the cleanliness of the water the tuna swam in before it became our dinner. Our lush, nitrogen-hungry lawns and depleted oxygen levels in the oceans. Tomatoes in January that came from a hothouse in in Chile. The list is so long, it's overwhelming.

So here's an idea. Maybe you already bring canvas bags to the grocery store or you've replaced your tungsten bulbs for more energy efficient ones. What are three more things you can do to put a little less pressure on the grid? A small composter for your table scraps, maybe. Taking public transportation once a week or carpooling with colleagues. Putting pressure on your congressmen to support alternative energy methods. Buying local fruits and vegetables from a farmer's market. Vacationing closer to home. Stop buying bottled water.

There are so many opportunities to make better choices for ourselves, and by extension, our Earth. Over and under the sea.

No comments:

Post a Comment