2 months in Munich Germany. Each morning I look at the BBC news on the iPad and go into a rant about how the journalists talk about nature and the environment. Husband in effort to help (and possibly not have to listen to the rant) says “Why not start a blog and write this stuff down?” So here it is…a space for me to hone my writing skill and keep track of the ideas and examples of an important aspect of communication about the environment.
Two stories stood out today for me. First was “Sharks take the fun out of Western Australia’s beach culture.” The article talks about the response of authorities after an attack, where they close beaches and issue a kill order for the shark. They also say that 2 recent incidents “follow a spate of deadly shark attacks in recent years in Western Australia” and how the government decided to cull sharks.
So kids and adults are now afraid to go in the water, despite the fact that 10 times as many people drown and 200 times as many people die in car accidents. A tourism minister suggests maybe people should visit wineries and sight see instead, and admits that he wouldn’t go swimming or surfing. Still people go to the beach (as it is a huge part of the culture there) but they take more care of when and where they swim. The public is against the killing of sharks and have protested the culling plan.
The article finishes with quotes from a retires cultural studies professor who basically fans the flames saying how people are constantly under threat of nature because it hasn’t been completely tamed. He talks of two different “myths” one of the treat of nature and the other of the easy-going beach lifestyle.
After a bit of poking around in other stories and article on the issue, it seems that the problem is not the sharks but the humans. Increasing population, tourism, and people engaging in beach and ocean related activities, leads to more people in the water. The other issue is that overfishing has reduced the amount of food for large predators like sharks, and as opportunist, the go where the food is—Australia’s West coast!
I see the privilege that humans expect as part of this, but also how it connects with economic growth, in that those in power don’t want to see tourist number fall (or even stay level). Yet it is interesting that the one’s getting eaten are also the one’s say don’t kill the predators. It’s a contradiction and that is what modern life is full of.