Tag Archives: consumption

Taking care of our seas

Dear People of the Earth,

Stop killing and eating us or most of us may die by 2050.


The Fish

– A fictional letter from the
Fictional Representative of Fish to the United Nations


Image via seafoodwatch.org

Image via seafoodwatch.org


In the article UN issues ‘final wake-up call’ on population and environment, the executive director of the UN Environment Program Achim Steiner,  “warned of a global collapse of all species being fished by 2050, if fishing around the world continued at its present pace.”

“The human population is living far beyond its means and inflicting damage on the environment that could pass points of no return.”

This is not a quote from an activist group like Greenpeace. This quote was from a major report from the United Nations. I really hope that wasn’t our final wake-up call.

Seafood watch

Whats for dinner? Let the pocket guide help you decide.

What’s for dinner? Let the pocket guide help you decide. Source: http://www.montereybayaquarium.org

I went out to dinner with friends who visited the famous  Monterey Bay Aquarium, CA, and showed me their Seafood Watch pocket guide.  Now, I carry the guide in my wallet.  The seafood guides “help make choices that are good for you and the ocean,” according to Seafood Watch.  The useful pocket guides have been helping me make sustainable seafood selections at stores or restaurants, based on scientific data on mercury toxicity, endangered species, and destructive fishing methods.

What is Seafood Watch?

“A program of Monterey Bay Aquarium designed to raise consumer awareness about the importance of buying seafood from sustainable sources. We recommend which seafood to buy or avoid, helping consumers to become advocates for environmentally friendly seafood.”

The Seafood Watch website includes searchable seafood database, downloadable pocket guides, guides for business owners, and form letters for encouraging your local restaurants and stores to offer sustainable seafood.

The guide made me conscious about humanity’s effect on fish and our consumption of fish.  Again, I am reminded of the circle of life, to which as a consumer I can often feel disconnection.  The last time I actually caught my own fish to eat was at Cape Cod, MA when I was a child.  I rarely eat fish these days, and when I do it is usually at a restaurant.

The UN report on the possible global collapse of fish was made in 2007.  I’ve been puzzled by the absence of a major US government plan to meet global warming and related urgent environmental challenges. I’ve been trying to do what I can and vote as a consumer to help.  Along with making sustainable seafood choices when I dine out and buy seafood, I also wrote to our local popular sushi restaurant Kirala and dropped off a seafood pocket guide to its take-out branch, Kirala 2 with a friendly letter.  So far, I have heard no response from them, but hope that others will be inspired to write to them too. We do have much power not only as voters but also as consumers. I do believe that awareness on smart seafood choices can be spread quickly among communities, before it is too late.  I hope to avert the possible future where my children and grandchildren grow up in a world without the fish that were once commonplace in our oceans.

What can I do to help?

Encourage your favorite restaurant to serve ocean- friendly seafood (friendly form letters)

Download a seafood watch pocket guide

Consumers make a difference

Download a sushi guide with Japanese names of fish

Note: The pocket guides are also available at the Ecology Center table at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market, CA.


‘Only 50 years left’ for sea fish

“There will be virtually nothing left to fish from the seas by the middle of the century if current trends continue, according to a major scientific study.”

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“The time for small changes is over”

Small and big changes are necessary to meet the challenges facing our earth. As I begin this blog, I ask myself how: we can meet the challenges of climate change and the depletion of our earth’s resources? How can humans live sustainably?

I recently read two articles that addressed these questions.  In “Begging for Small Change,” Dr. Tom Crompton in an article for the BBC says,

“Of course, it’s helpful for people to switch to energy-efficient light bulbs, or turn their central heating down; cumulatively, such changes will have a beneficial impact.

…In fact, some research shows that, for a significant number of people, the opposite is true. Having embraced one simple change, some people then tend to rest on their laurels and be less likely to engage in other more significant changes.”

He explains how a green consumer can paradoxically create more waste. Dr. Crompton also proposes positive solutions for change, among them:

“We need a different approach to motivating people to change; one which stems from a re-examination of the values upon which this change is built.

Studies find that people who engage in behaviour in pursuit of “intrinsic” goals – such as personal growth, community involvement, or a sense of connection with nature – tend to be more highly motivated and more likely to engage in environmentally friendly behaviour than individuals who are motivated by “extrinsic” goals – that is, financial success, image and the acquisition of material goods.”

Read the complete article: Begging for more than small change

The subject of overconsumption is discussed in Crompton’s article and also in Too Many People, Too Much Consumption by Paul R. Ehrlich and Anne H. Ehrlich of Stanford University. They discuss how humans have been depleting the earth’s resources “as if there were no tomorrow.”

“Four decades after his controversial book, The Population Bomb, scientist Paul Ehrlich still believes that overpopulation — now along with overconsumption — is the central environmental crisis facing the world. And, he insists, technological fixes will not save the day.”

Their pointed remarks about consumption resonate with me as an American and hit home:

“Consumption is still viewed as an unalloyed good by many economists, along with business leaders and politicians, who tend to see jacking up consumption as a cure-all for economic ills. Too much unemployment? Encourage people to buy an SUV or a new refrigerator. Perpetual growth is the creed of the cancer cell, but third-rate economists can’t think of anything else. Some leading economists are starting to tackle the issue of overconsumption, but the problem and its cures are tough to analyze. Scientists have yet to develop consumption condoms or morning-after-shopping-spree pills.”

The Ehlrichs provide inspiring remarks for positive change:

“We’ll continue to hope and work for a cultural transformation in how we treat each other and the natural systems we depend upon. We can create a peaceful and sustainable global civilization, but it will require realistic thinking about the problems we face and a new mobilization of political will.”

Read the complete compelling article Too Many People, Too Much Consumption.

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