This week I went for some drinks with a lovely friend and she told me a story …
One day on her way to work she saw a guy dressed up as a Rhino standing outside one of London’s busiest train stations collecting money to ‘Save the Rhino’. He was still there on her way home and it made her wonder;
“Why would people donate money to a save a Rhino over saving a Child?”
I once had dreams of ‘saving’ the human world from suffering but these changed to dreams of ‘saving’ the marine world from destruction…so I would like to explain why I would now choose to save a whale over a child, as controversial as it sounds.
The simple reason is the two are inextricably linked. We cannot prevent human suffering without first saving the very ecosystems our survival depends on. Natural resources, peace and health are key foundations to a functioning society but if the environment is unstable then these three foundations are threatened.
Let’s start with natural resources and peace. As the global environment changes and we experience an increase in floods and drought, warming oceans and erratic weather systems our global food supply is threatened both on land and at sea. Famine and malnutrition are the most direct and obvious results of this, however a lesser discussed result is the threat to regional and global peace. Peace is disrupted by war, a primary reason we go to war is to secure natural resources as numerous papers explain;
We as a collective world have pillaged resource rich regions throughout history. As the global climate warms, pollution persists and ecosystems collapse our natural resources are threatened. This will result in an increased number of wars as more people fight for less resources.
Now on to health…this factor is more tangible than war as many of us have seen the direct effect of the environment on our health. It may have been on a trip abroad where the polluted water would give you diarrhoea or even in London where the particulate matter results in asthma. ‘Altogether more than 80% of all major diseases and injuries are impacted by factors in our environment. More than 3.5 million deaths each year are from respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases and malaria alone. Talking about non-communicable diseases – cancers may caused by polluted air, chemicals or radiation, cardiovascular diseases are related to stress at the workplace, and chemicals. These two diseases alone trigger almost another 4 million deaths a year. Suicides and violence are impacted by our environment — violent behaviour for example can be triggered by chemicals we’re exposed to, such as lead’ . It cannot be denied that there is a correlation between the health of our environment and our health and therefore the two are impossible to disconnect.
So let’s go back to the original question…
‘Why save a Whale when you can save a Child?’
Because by saving a Whale you are helping to ensure the survival of our marine ecosystems. Without stable marine ecosystems our Ocean as a whole will suffer. The algae and cyanobacteria in the oceans are small but abundant and, according to various estimates, they produce about 50-80% of atmospheric oxygen. If the Ocean is no longer able to efficiently produce atmospheric oxygen our global ecosystem will be threatened.
As much as I dislike sounding all doom and gloom I just wanted to share with you why I decided to ‘save’ our Ocean.
I’m not choosing to ‘save a Whale over saving a Child’…but in order to save our children we must secure the future health of our planet and in doing so guarantee their futures are filled with natural resources, peace and good health.