Daring to care

They are still rolling around in my head, those compelling voices from the Oiled Wildlife First Responder training course which I attended in Nanaimo last weekend.

The sold-out course, hosted by the Oiled Wildlife Society and Wildlife Rehabilitators’ Network of British Columbia, was presented to a room packed full of people who, just like me, wanted to learn what we can do to help wildlife in the event of an oil spill in British Columbia.

And, learn we certainly did.  The excellent line-up of speakers covered an agenda bursting with information about everything from the Incident Command System that comes into play when there is a spill to how oiled wildlife should be captured and transported.  We left the course armed with an enormous, new arsenal of knowledge and tools — oil resistant gloves and impermeable Tyvek coveralls included.  It was an amazing day, and I felt immensely grateful that I’d had the opportunity to spend it in the company of so many caring, dedicated people.

Yet, at the same time, I found myself feeling troubled.

The course had really brought home for me the hard truth that it is our need for oil — a need we humans have created for ourselves — which lies behind the death and suffering of countless creatures every year.  It was soberingly clear from the information we’d been given that there are very real limits to the number of birds and mammals we can expect to save once they have become contaminated with oil, no matter how knowledgeable or well trained we are.  Ultimately, the most effective means of helping wildlife still is to lessen the amount of oil moving around our environment — and that is something we can accomplish only by reducing our oil consumption.

How do we, as individuals, do this?  Intelligent, thoughtful suggestions for cutting back on our consumption of oil are ubiquitous, including on the Internet, so I won’t repeat those suggestions here.  I also won’t repeat the points we’ve already made in previous posts on this blog about the inherently oil-unfriendly nature of distance (or technology-assisted) mediation.  What I will reiterate, though, is this:  Businesses and organizations actively engaged in practices and ways of delivering services and products that minimize oil consumption need our support.  Granted, supporting them isn’t likely to stop oil spills from happening.  It also won’t increase the number of oiled wildlife that can be saved.  But it just might result in a reduction in the amount of oil being transported and that, in turn, just might result in less spills.

Am I being naïve and simplistic?  Maybe.  Nonetheless, for me personally, the hope held out by businesses and organizations that dare to openly care how much oil we use is reason enough to support them.

What about you?

Photo credit: “Two Snowies” by ingridtaylar (CC license)

6 thoughts on “Daring to care”

  1. Susanna, thank you very much for the kind inclusion of my photo. On the topic of oiled wildlife response, we are kindred spirits here. My husband and I were HAZMAT certified to do precisely the same work. (We were licensed through our wildlife hospital in the SF Bay Area.) I am so happy to encounter others, like you, who share this passion and concern. In my view, there are never enough hands and hearts to do the work that needs to be done. Beautiful post and sentiments, thanks.

  2. You have made my day, Ingrid. Thank you. Your love of wildlife is reflected deeply and clearly in every one of your exquisite photographs. Thank you for helping raise our awareness of the tremendous beauty of the feathered creatures around us.

  3. Susanna, your post is so appropriate for Earth Day! I’m struck by how we’ve tended to focus primarily on the positive implications of ODR for reducing greenhouse gas emissions … but, of course, this can also be framed in terms of how it can be one small step in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels … and thereby preventing oil spills, or otherwise doing a better job of protecting wildlife habitats. Thanks for showing us how it’s all connected!

    ~ Colleen

  4. As always, thank you for your thoughtful comment, Colleen. I like how you describe using ODR as being one small step. Indeed, I think it is a small step. But I also think that any step in the right direction, no matter how small it may seem, is incredibly important for us as individuals to take. The problems our planet faces seem so overwhelming sometimes that it is easy to discount the value of small steps – to just throw our hands up and say, ‘what’s the point’ or ‘what difference will it make’. Maybe it’s the Canadian coming out in me but I really do believe that all big snowballs start from a few flakes of snow.

  5. Speaking from the Middle East, then, am I to assume that all great sand dunes start from my son emptying his sneakers at the end of the day…? We’ve been talking about changes in our personal habits – I still think there is a huge way to go in terms of changing individual professional habits; ODR was just a close and useful example. I’ve been tickled by “Nudge theory” lately – I wonder how an individual might apply it in his or her office or organization to gently promote change.

  6. I can’t comment on who might be creating those sand dunes, Noam, but now I know where all the lint that has inexplicably been appearing everywhere is coming from…. I’m not familiar with “Nudge theory” (did you, brilliant man that you are, come up with that?) But, if I understand the concept correctly, I can imagine that an individual picking something simple and just doing it – ‘modelling’ the action in a no-preach fashion – would be a natural way to gently promote change.

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