231 billion pounds (105 million tonnes) of fish and other marine animals, including turtles, sharks, squids, are captured and killed worldwide by human beings...annually.
This number, which is rounded down and does not include illegal or non-recorded catches, is for both oceanic and inland aquatic animals taken mostly for food. Mostly.
That huge – nearly inconceivable – number does not include whaling, farmed fish and hatchery aquaculture, which is more than an additional 160 billion pounds of aquatic species, taken for consumption purposes.
That works out to roughly 60 pounds of fish (or other marine life) per each human being in the world, every year.
As an additional perspective, we slaughter (in the U.S. alone) around 3 billion non-aquatic animals (cattle, pigs, sheep, chickens, ect.) for food annually. A low estimate of global slaughter of non-aquatic farmed animals is more than 80 – 100 billion individuals.
As a species, we farm, fish and slaughter far more animals than what it takes to feed the entire world. This does not take grains, fruits, nuts and vegetables into account, which could likely feed every human on the planet – if equally dispersed.
Change of ideas for a tic...
Let's digress from what we eat.
Across the globe we've seen a decrease in productive pollinating insects (primarily bees) by more than one-third since 2005. The loss of bees could actually happen so quickly that certain plants and their products would simply cease to exist – nearly overnight.
The Earth is warming. That, too, is a fact. With it are not only rising seas, but melting ice. Glaciers are disappearing, sea ice is melting, snow packs are thinning – and a lot of that “fresh water” is now joining the salinated oceans, becoming woefully undrinkable.
At the same time, we are losing safe drinking water supplies in ever-increasing numbers. In fact, right now, 1,400 children die PER DAY worldwide, due entirely to not having access to safe drinking water (and the diseases that come from drinking nonviable water – such as dysentery). 1,400 children....each day.
An estimated total of 800 million people around the world live without access to safe water. And the drinking water situation is only going to get worse due to population pressures and a shrinking supply of fresh water. Imagine that we allow for our own species to suffer and die in those huge numbers because we are swaddled in the apathy of affluence.
I was once asked (in relation to making a documentary about killer whales); “Why should I care?”
The answer is why I front-loaded this blog with verifiable FACTS. These statistics are absolutely meant to punch you in the gut. Solidly, and as much as I might care about you, I truly hope it stings. Because here's my retort to the question of caring – my purpose – for each and every project and film I make:
I am trying to save the entire species. You, me, the dude down the street, the woman in Kenya, the child in Seoul... we all face the most monumental task our kind has EVER faced. You should care – you MUST care, or damn your families' families to a bleak and unrecoverable future.
We are looking into an abyss of species extinction...and OUR species is on the list.
No, I'm not talking an apocalyptic wasteland looming in the next 30 years. I'm talking about an initially slow – but ever increasing in momentum – slide into a more difficult world. A world that will eventually render our species null.
It will be a world of “new normality,” that we resign ourselves into believing was just the inevitable march of progress...heck, maybe it had “always” been that way...the future populous won't know for sure, people will simple try to adjust and survive.
We lose the black rhino. Ten years later, there's a whole generation of children who have no tangible memories of that species being anymore “alive” than the dodo birds. We see Kemps Ridley sea turtles die-off in 20 years, and only a small segment of the population would be able to tell you when they once filled beaches to nest in the moonlight.
We lose species every day. We even lose species we will never know existed. We are losing plants, insects and animals at a pace unseen by this planet since the last mass extinction.
So, the films aren't about saving “just” the whales, otters, sea lions, turtles, manatees. The countless articles weren't just filling column space with environmentalism, my book wasn't simply a catalog of pretty animals. They are – all – seeds.
Something I sow into a mind here, and a mind there. Maybe it takes root, maybe it sparks imaginations, feelings. It does grow – I've seen it. It's exponential and unstoppable – even if it reaches just a handful of people.
That, in its essence, IS the Human experience. It's universal. We gathered around the fire in years past and spoke of legends, folklore, spoken histories and eventually we took to drawing images, carving statues, taking photographic pictures and later making films...all to share knowledge.
No image, ever taken with purpose, lacks a meaningful story. Even in spite of itself, or the intent of the photographer. Making documentaries is like that, too. I will never know what my films mean to those who watch it. I may never know what those seeds grow into...but I hope. I hope they grow into something beautiful...something that changes the world...something that might save the world. Nothing less – nothing more – simply seeds of hope, scattered among the winds.