Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson has warned human destruction of ecosystems is seriously “out of control” and now impacting us as a species. This is not about saving planet Earth, but this is about saving ourselves from ourselves.
Describing the world as “completely out of balance”, the veteran environmental campaigner argues that humans need to realize they are dependent on other species for survival.
On Captain Watson’s mind right now is the survival of the tiny phytoplankton which live in our oceans – organisms most people have never heard of.
The diverse group of microorganisms play a role as significant as forests in transforming the planet’s carbon dioxide into oxygen and are the basis of ocean food webs.
Life on Earth depends on their existence, and a small drop in number could have devastating consequences. Scientists fear they are under threat from rising ocean temperatures.
As the permafrost melts and forests are destroyed, he is concerned new viruses and methane that were once locked away under ice or in the blood of animal hosts risk coming into contact with humans.
Despite his dire predictions, Captain Watson does not appear to be rattled or alarmed, noting that during previous extinction events, the Earth has recovered in 18 to 20 million years.
We will survive if our species wants to survive, and that’s only going to happen if we learn to live in harmony with all other species.
And learn to live within the context of the basic laws of ecology, to understand the importance of diversity, interdependence and finite resources.
Captain Watson’s faith in the importance of the present moment came from his time volunteering as a medic for the American Indian Movement (AIM) during the occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973.
Armed with .50-calibre machine guns, rifles and grenade launchers, government forces fired an estimated 133,000 rounds into the village. Two died and roughly 51 people were injured.
Captain Watson said he approached AIM’s leader Russell Means and asked why they should continue to protest when there was no possibility of winning.
We are here because this is the right thing to do, the right place to do it, and the right time to do it. We have to focus on the present, because what we do in the present will define what the future will be.
As awareness grows of the impact humans are having on the planet, Captain Watson says there are more young activist leaders fighting for the environment than he has seen before.
What people need to do is simply harness their passion to the virtues of courage and imagination and they can change the world.
Although Captain Watson has played a leading role in driving the world’s commercial whale hunt to plummet over the last 45 years, he believes there is nothing unique about his own character other than being persistent and relentless.
He argues that he was in the right place at the right time when Greenpeace was founded, and much of his journey just “fell into place”.
By looking at life as “an adventure”, he has been lucky to avoid the depression many activists feel. I don’t recall any tough days, there’s been challenges of course.
I was put on the Interpol Red List (by Japan) and arrested in Germany, and had to escape and went into exile for six months. But I have to tell you, my six months in exile in South Pacific was like a holiday, so I have no complaints there.
While he tries not to look into the future, Sea Shepherd founder Paul Watson said Australia turning from a whaling nation to a conservation nation gives him hope that Japan may one day follow suit.
When he began campaigning to end the practice in the seventies, Australia’s humpback whale population had collapsed, and the Cheynes whaling station in Western Australia was hunting sperm whales for their oil.
With the Soviets and the United States vying for supremacy, there was unprecedented demand for the high-grade substance which was highly prized by the military and NASA.
When we were intervening against the whalers, the whaling company actually recruited the local motorcycle gang to protect their interests, he said. So we were out there battling bikers on the high seas.
As pressure continued to be applied by local whaling groups including Friends of the Earth, Project Jonah and the Whale and Dolphin Coalition, the Australian government made the decision to ban whaling in 1978.
Today there are few nations engaging in commercial whaling, with the notable exceptions being Norway, Japan, Denmark and Iceland who do so within their territorial waters.
Since forcing the Japanese whaling fleet out of the Southern Ocean, Captain Watson has stepped back and Sea Shepherd now operates in 42 different countries, as separate entities who work together.
Something I’m most proud of is that Sea Shepherd is not an organization, it has become a movement.
I came to the realization, when the Japanese came after me personally, that you can stop an individual, and you can shut down an organization, but you can’t stop a movement.
Sea Shepherd is now concentrating much of its efforts stopping the annual whale hunts on the Faroe Islands, fighting the French government on the issue of commercial fishing vessels which kill an estimated 6000 dolphins each year, and stopping poaching off the coast of Africa.
Yahoo / ABC Flash Point Wildlife News 2021.