The Spill: Better Life and Living Better in a Dangerous Time OR Introduction to a New Blogger

Elliott A. Norse, Ph.D., President, Marine Conservation Biology Institute

I write this during a national emergency. The emergency is what led me to rename what was Marine Conservation Blog “The Spill.”

“The Spill” can mean two quite different things. It could refer to the growing BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill. Or it could refer to the spill of thoughts and feelings that cascade from each and every one of us. Or it could mean both.

In this blog, in my columns from here on, I want “The Spill” to mean both.

This oil spill is really, really important. No doubt about that. But The BP Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill will eventually be choked off and stop sending vast quantities of hydrocarbons into America’s Mediterranean. And after that time, and even while it happens, there are many other things that could attract my attention and—I hope—yours.

The principle of Truth in Advertising compels me to say something about who I am, because who we are shapes what we blog. And I am willing to do that, when there’s time to do so safely, in dribs and dabs, because I believe that anyone who reads a blog deserves to know who the blogger is.

If you know where I’m coming from… (please fill in the words that follow in your mind).

I write about me not because I’m an egotist (that’s a separate question), but because my thoughts and feelings need to be examined in light of who I am.

I suspect that the majority of my colleagues in science rightly favor sharing thoughts that stand or fall based on their own merit, no matter who says them. Judge me on what I say, not who I am.

But people are primates, possessing both logic and emotion. And who we are determines both our logic and how we feel, hence what occupies our minds and how we express it. That’s even true for a lot of scientists.

I believe I’m in the minority of scientists who believe that if you are to give me the gift of your reading time, then I must offer, in return, the gift of appropriate transparency and candor. I will label those BIOBLOGS, and you can skip or read them as you wish (of course, if I could think and write as brilliantly as Ed Wilson does, and generated as much interest, some people would even pay to read my autobiographic information. So you’re getting a freebie… and what you get may be worth every penny you pay! You judge).

Enough introduction to the Introduction. This is my first blog for The Spill. I am losing my blog naivete at this very moment.

Some people write because it’s purgative.

Some write because they don’t know what else to do.

But there’s really only one reason to write: To make thoughts and feelings live beyond a neuronal flicker in one’s own mind.

Some people do that through poetry or painting.

Some do it via analyzing cancer mortality or baseball statistics.

I do it, usually, by thinking about how to live better on this Earth.

And that has two meanings.

Most people will think I mean being an environmental scientist, with maybe a bit of philosopher thrown in, I’ll write about the environment, including the philosophy of relating to it. And I’ll do that. Absolutely.

But other people will think I mean living a better life, and I’ll do that too because it is my deepest, most unshakable belief that an Earth that is better for other life is better for human life.
Why? Because we are not alone. We are part of something larger. People have very diverse ideas of what that is, but whatever it is, we together comprise something that is qualitatively different than what we do as individuals. And while it is difficult or impossible to prove the existence or value of some of the things that could make us part of something larger, this blog will aim to show that we are part of something that is very important–called the biosphere, or–as I call it–Earth. Our Mother Earth.

That’s a belief with all sorts of implications.

Or as they used to say on television, when television and I were young, “Stay tuned.”

2 thoughts on “The Spill: Better Life and Living Better in a Dangerous Time OR Introduction to a New Blogger”

  1. I live and work in a small community on the north Coast of British Columbia, Canada. I’m eager to hear about both “spills” as we sit on the precipice with a potential pipeline in the works, and the possibility of loaded VLCCs running by our small resource based communities. All information will be gladly received as we fight against the inevitability of a spill, and hopefully the other “spill” from the blog will help with that emotional push to forge on…

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