There’s a fire inside of me that I can’t put out, ignited after digesting one of the most heart-wrenching films last night. Blue is an Australian documentary directed by Karina Holden that was released last year and details the dire fate of marine life in the face of current trends and practices.
The film socked me in the gut and left me full of despair. It’s one thing to admit that humanity is a bull in a china shop. It’s another thing entirely to comprehend that we’re intentionally setting the world on fire in pursuit of the good life. The victims of our follies are predictably the innocent, harmless creatures that are choking on plastic or drowning in ghost netting.
The documentary follows a range of marine specialists and conservationists who are trying to turn the tide through raising public awareness. Holden assembles some damning footage of the ongoing genocide; of finless sharks dying in agony on the ocean floor, examining the pumped stomach of seabirds to reveal meals laced with plastic fragments.
Since the dawn of plastic production over a hundred years ago, the durable product has provided affordability and convenience for businesses and consumers alike. As the narrator warns, every single manufactured product exists to this day, its durability withstanding countless generations.
The problem has magnified to such an extent in the past fifty years that scientists have discovered elemental traces of plastic in the diet of plankton. As larger predators feed on these poor suckers, the cycle of life suggests that mother nature will have the last laugh when they end up on our plate of sushi.
As Holden tells it, the devastation is consummate and without the right oversight, such actions are irreversible. With a growing middle-class across the globe, our appetite for the finer things continues to expand with no end in sight. By this measure our demand will inevitably lead to the extinction of whole species within a matter of decades.
While it’s hard to accept the blame for the graphic visuals, it's difficult to wriggle out of the fact that we’re guilty of contributing to the madness — bringing home plastic bags full of groceries year in and year out or enjoying a bottle of water at work because we can. It may not be your discarded straw that found its way up a turtles nose but you’re on cloud nine if you think any of your waste isn’t drifting in some current somewhere.
What leaves me fuming is humanity's myopic notion that we’re above the law, strutting around as if we conceived of this beautiful planet in the first place. What gives us the right to piss it all away for a maximized quarterly dividend.
While the damage is catastrophic, there are reasons to be hopeful such as Yao Ming’s response to the shark-fin trade in China. The power of his provocative PSA commercial led to a fifty percent decline in consumption, dropping to 11 million pounds in two years with a 2013 survey collecting a 91% approval rating to ban the trade altogether.
If you love this planet as much as I do then take a look at some of the small acts you can make to turn the tide. Take someone special to a screening next week, share a post, pass the word along. If you’ve ever put a piece of seafood down your gob, sipped an overpriced cocktail through a plastic straw or enjoyed a swim in the deep blue sea then you deserve to pay it forward.
Don’t be a tosser. Be a force for good.