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Chain, chain, chain…. chain of interdependencies

September 01 2009 | Culture Shifting, Jim's Blog,
by Jim

So much of the time we miss the interconnectedness of our actions. We understand our actions as they happen as events, but miss the context in which they happen. We see the event and miss the series of events that it's part of. Or since I can't get Aretha's classic out of my mind, we see the link but miss the chain.

I dig Story of Stuff for this reason as it attempts to illustrate this larger context of our rampant consumerism.

For me it updates Sir Isaac Newton's law... and suggests when we do anything, even download a song from itunes, we are causing an action (of more likely a myriad of actions) elsewhere.

Check out this story about Saint-Michel-en-Greve, France.

Let's start with the end of the chain, tourism is down. It's a big enough deal that the French Premier is feeling a bit of pressure to clean up the pollution giving Saint-Michel-en-Greve a bad name. How did things get to this point? Well... picture the idyllic scene of a man on a horse riding down a wide beach in France. The person stops, the horse steps into some rotting algae... and horse dies within seconds.

Um. What?

I was just getting that picture in my mind and then the horse died in seconds?!

The rest of the chain...

Farmers in the area are using fertilizers. Those fertilizers don't stay on land, they make their way to the ocean. In the ocean they cause algae blooms. Those blooms eventually die off. When they die they release noxious fumes. In the ocean it's not as noticeable by townspeople or the press. But we're talking about the land/sea connection here... so the rotting algae washes onshore and sits there.

Now if you're not an animal enthusiast or don't have an ounce of love in your body for horses you may say "who cares, we're talking about a horse not a person?" or something closer to what I hear all the time from enviro-naysayers "why are you putting animals above people?"

This isn't a story about horses. The poor horse was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's a story about ecosystem-based management. It's a story about actions and reactions. It's a story about coastal economic drivers. It's a story about tiny coastal villages getting gaining notoriety in global press for the wrong reasons. It's a story about political will.

This is a story about interdependency.

So as we're all getting to work, getting that fancy smancy coffee or leaving our monitor on all night... let's try and stop for a moment and understand the chain.

pic: tcnj.edu
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