“The World is Blue” Sylvia Earle Review and analysis by: Kylee Luckett
“It is our choices...that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
They say only a few will ever speak loud enough to be heard over the other seven billion voices on the planet. Today someone is shouting. Screaming off of the pages of “The World is Blue” is Sylvia Earle, National Geographic Society’s Explorer in Residence, and vast contributor to the effort to preserve the planet’s oceans. Earle’s book is not an inconvenient truth, fueled by politics and funding, but rather, by Earle’s heart for the ocean, and its unique residents. Earle explores conflict and resolution, one chapter and issue at a time. Taking Marine Wildlife: The elephant in the room
Earle utilizes her chapter on fish to call the world out on the elephant in the room-overfishing. Earle discusses how at one time in history, people believed that there was an infinite amount of fish to be caught, that there would never be a day when we would see something as popular as tuna, go extinct. We are sitting on the eve of “that day.” Earle really brings out the reality of overfishing, almost mocking our early ideas of sustainable yield. “..but those pesky animals didn’t obey the rules.. So what’s wrong with the concept of sustainable yield?” (Earle) Earle makes keen note that you cannot possibly create a concept of sustainability, when you know next to nothing about the species you are supposedly “yielding”. Earle debunks the idea of a surplus in the ocean of a healthy ecosystem, stating “What APPEARS to be an overabundance to human observers is a natural insurance policy...” (Earle) Earle applies the same idea of questionable yield to marine mammals. She spends a fair amount of this chapter on the touchy subject that is almost always controversial-whaling. She lends a nod to her own initial ignorance of marine mammals in an honest confession. “I had come to regard the cats, dogs, horses, squirrels and rabbits I knew personally as individuals, but I did not think of whales the same way.” (Earle) She goes on there after, to explain her emotional experience of “meeting” a whale, and her forever changed perspective. Whaling is just the tip of the iceberg or in this case, melting glacier, for Earle. Earle shifts into the amount of marine mammals killed as “by catch”, and the epidemic that breeds within the fishing industry. What would the world think if in fact the by catch of their tuna salad was the faithful Flipper? Would they still feel safe about their claimed “dolphin safe” tuna? I recall my six year old self, carefully checking each can of tuna my mother placed in our shopping cart, seeking out that little smiling dolphin to confirm that my lunch would be free of dolphin massacre. So much has changed since those would be conservation efforts. Earle does not forget to mention the smaller, less thought of creatures-the shellfish. Earle opens her chapter with a history lesson centered on oysters, at one time in our history- she notes “….they were described as hazards to navigation.” (Earle) Today, few would ever say abundant in the same sentence as oysters. Earle pay homage to the importance of the shellfish in our ocean, discussing everything from clams to my personal favorite-the octopus, whom Earle notes as a critical part of the ocean’s health. Earle closes her shellfish segment with a sentence that hits close to home. “I have decided to cease and desist, hoping that every lobster I don’t eat, will increase the chances that somewhere a lobster might live, and do what lobsters do as a part of a healthy ocean.” (Earle) With that statement, I immediately connected on a personal level to Earle. As a devout vegetarian, I too, have hopes that every animal I do not eat, will aid in the future of that species, and ultimately, our...