Ask Umbra’s Book Club: Isn’t the ocean an all-you-can-eat buffet?
What did you think of Sylvia Earle’s The World Is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean’s Are One? I must say, it left me awed and inspired. They don’t call Earle “‘Her Deepness” for nothing.
The book has such depth and range — from how whales play to the perils of ocean acidification. But enough about what I thought. Let’s talk about what you think!
Earle, who was born in 1935, writes in the Perspective:
Ninety percent of many fish common when I was a child are now gone, consumed by eager diners unaware that in their life-time they might witness the disappearance of some of their favorite wild-caught fare, from tuna to swordfish to lobsters and crabs.
The disappearing bluefin tuna is a prime example. “Are we trying to exterminate them?” Earle recalls blurting out to a group of U.S. fishing regulators who were planning to use unsustainable quotas for bluefin fishing. “If so, great job! Only 10 percent left to go!”
In Chapter 1, Earle connects species loss in the oceans to the “Tragedy of the Commons,” the notion that individuals who act in their own self-interest will ultimately deplete a limited, shared resource even when it’s apparent that doing so is not in the anyone’s long-term interest:
In retrospect, it should have been obvious that there are limits to how much can be extracted without undermining future resources, especially in the realm from which everyone is free to take as much as they want using whatever means they choose.
Have you noticed changes in the availability of certain types of seafood? Have your seafood eating habits changed over the years? Since reading this book?
Have you ever considered checking on the status of the fish you’re considering ordering at a restaurant by using this iPhone app or by texting 30644? If you thought it would help, would you be comfortable encouraging others at the table to do the same?
Let’s get the conversation started in the comments area below. I’ll put my two cents in throughout the day.
And stay close, as we’ll have another discussion question on Thursday and more next week — to give late book buyers and borrowers a chance to catch up. I’ll announce the new book club book next week too. You can stay up-to-date with all the book club posts here.
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