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?