Monday, June 26, 2017

A Chat With Robin About Humans, Whales, and the Great Barrier Reef

Some weeks ago now, Robin Kimber, whom we know affectionately as Old Egg, who writes so charmingly at Robin's Nest, wrote a poem reflecting on how the world has changed since we were young. I think many of us feel the same way, looking back on simpler times, when there was a certain societal expectation of behavioral norms, that seems to be lacking today. I asked him if he might reflect a bit on his poem, and his feelings writing it. I bring it to you today, for your thoughtful consideration.





SAND THROUGH MY FINGERS

Little did I think playing on the beach
A child many years before
Those sand castles, moats and dams that I built
Were mountains in days of yore

As the sea washed over my little toes
I knew not what came before
That my ancestors had crawled up on this beach
A new place to live they saw

For as I hopped and skipped without a thought
As I grew each year by year
We had once feared wild beasts and birds around
Pets now that I hold dear

Did they stay close or forsake Mother Sea?
To find a safe place to hide
Live in a cave or construct a wood hut
Safe from predators abide

Mankind has struggled many years thus far
Now to reach this point in time
But found it best to fight in bloody wars
And to trash this Earth sublime

As the sand through my fingers now does run
A tear runs down my face
This paradise in which we once lived
Has been made hell in its place



Sherry: It does seem a very different world today from the one we knew as children. I often wonder if today's children feel about life the way we did, when life was safe and stable and calm. I do hope they have the same pleasures and hopefulness and dreams that we did. 


Robin: When I wrote my ‘Looking back’ poem a few weeks ago, I was getting frustrated with the Australian government for supporting international mineral magnates to come and drill for oil in off South Australia’s shores, and mine for coal in Queensland, which had the likelihood of affecting not only the unique fauna in the neighborhood but would also seriously endanger the ocean's inhabitants and the unique Great Barrier Reef of the coast of the state of Queensland. 




The Reef is already suffering due to global warming, causing it to bleach, but the proposal was to provide a deep shipping channel to the ports so the coal could be easily transported abroad.  





Australia doesn’t really need it, with the feasibility of all our energy being sourced through renewable means, such as Wind and Solar generation in the near future.

Sherry: I have been concerned for the Reef, too, Robin. They must be protected, and helped back to health.  I am also inspired by your country's efforts to switch to clean energy. 

Robin: Oil may also be found in the Great Australian Bight, which is the massive bay that stretches hundreds of miles from Western Australia to South Australia. It is a sanctuary for Southern Right Whales to come in wintertime to escape the frozen Antarctica, and for females to give birth in safety. 


news.com.au photo


Because there are very few sites for harbours for hundreds of kilometres, it is a safe haven for other sea life too. Strict fishing limits are imposed on both commercial and recreational fishermen there to ensure the fish stock numbers are kept viable. Clearly having a huge exploration effort for oil in the Bight would affect not only the wildlife but Australians as well, together with the tourist industry that this unique environment attracts.

Sherry: It is the same struggle everywhere, addressing the need to protect wild ecosystems, against the voracious demands of the multinationals, whose bottom line is always money, at the expense of all else. 

Robin: In the poem I wrote, I tried to convey how the innocence of mankind has been lost over the millennia. We have developed the ability to do almost anything on Earth and beyond with the aid of education, cooperation, scientific discoveries and our inventiveness, but we still cannot feed the starving, we cannot preserve the precious forests that give us air to breathe, we pollute the atmosphere and cause an acceleration of global warming and still fight each other like savages, as we don’t want to share or we dislike the way that others worship their gods, thinking that we are the only ones that are right.

Sherry: I feel the same way, Robin. I resonate very much with your poem "What's Happening?" and would like to include it here, since it continues this lamentation.


What's happening to our world?
As we now cringe in mortal fear
Are terrified of rulers vain
That will destroy all we hold dear

Happiness is so hard to find
Despite our Earth's once rich domain
Too many greedy and cruel in charge
Some of our leaders seem insane

With forests felled and icecaps gone
Wild animals search for a home
Our waste strewn across all the Earth
Our rivers filled with toxic foam

What's happening in our world
Please let there be a hopeful light
To see a future for all kids
I fervently pray that I'm right


Sherry: I do, too, my friend. I have always been determined that the transformation of human consciousness would occur in time, that humans could not possibly be so short-sighted as to put money before planetary survival. With the election of the U.S. president, I admit to falling into utter discouragement. The planet doesn't have four more years to ignore climate change.

But I am noticing his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord has galvanized and strengthened most people and countries of the world, including cities and states in the U.S.,  to work all the harder to make the switch to clean energy. So, in a way, his approach has backfired quite nicely.

Robin: This Earth we live on will continue with or without us changing slowly or dramatically, if we are foolish. But mankind sees only money in the bank, not trees in blossom, see castles of their making rather than the health of all living things. We think we are so big and important but we can’t see we are upsetting the balance of nature and are hastening a disaster that may well be catastrophic.

Sherry: It is astonishing to me, when we have all the information, see the poles melting,  coastal areas already flooding, that we are still so slow to act. We are the only species so greedy and heedless that we destroy our own habitat (and that of every other living thing).



A Southern Right Whale, breaching
copyright Doc White / naturepl.com


Robin: Southern Right Whales as well as seals and sea-lions can often be seen all along South Australia’s and other states coastlines. Now that it is winter, we can expect a whale sighting any day now at Victor Harbor, a former whaling port where they like to come for a rest.

Sherry: Our whales on the west coast of the island are here too, migrating up to Alaska from Baja. Some of them will stay all season in our area, becoming accustomed to the tour boats. Each year, there is a "friendly," who sometimes approaches a boat and allows itself to be seen close up, looking in at the people with its big, ancient eye. More rarely, one allows itself to be patted, a gift and an amazement. I always think that "whoosh" they make sounds like the voice of God. Their breath is very ancient too. It smells of ocean bottoms and things long gone.

Robin: Curiously there’s a rule here that you shouldn’t approach too close to a whale when they are in-shore just in case they suddenly notice you and make a sudden movement causing your boat to capsize!

Sherry: We have that rule too. Boats must stay a good distance away and may not chase or pursue whales. We do not want to disturb them. When we spot them, we stop the boat, turn off the motor and drift. I find that whales approach the rubber zodiacs more often as, in them, we are drifting silently, at almost the same level. I remember one diving right beside my boat once. It thrilled me to my toes!

A not-very-shy Tofino whale
freshtrackscanada.com


Robin: My wife and I looked over a cliff on the Bight (between South Australia and Western Australia) and there must have been over twenty whales placidly making themselves at home and there were young ones there too. 




In the Barrier Reef's tranquil waters, people swim miles from shore, (which I have done!), but I didn’t stay in too long. I didn’t want a shark to sniff me out!

Sherry: It must have been amazing! Robin, I have enjoyed this interesting chat so much! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and reflections with us. You have given us much to think about.

Well, my friends, there you have it: humans, whales, the great barrier reef, climate change and clean energy, a conversation  for our times. Do come back and see who we talk to next. Who knows? It may be you!


39 comments:

  1. So good to see you featured here Old Egg - thank you both

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    1. And it's good to see you here too Jae. We've been commenting on each others work now for nearly 8 years now and we both come a long way with our writing.

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  2. A wonderful interview, Sherry and Robin. You have focused on several socio/environmental issues in a manner I found to be compelling and edifying - not to mention: a fascinating read. Your poems are impactful, Robin and highlight your concerns and the urgent need for action: NOW! Great job on this, Sherry and Robin.

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    1. Thank you so much Wendy. All over the world there are real problems with our care of the world which is in such danger.

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  3. A great interview, thanks to you both. Robin, as you talk to Sherry here between the poems, I see that you are equally eloquent in prose. And it's a subject that needs all our eloquence!

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    1. Thank you for the visit Rosemary. Sadly so many of our representatives in government have deaf years to the problems not only in Australia but throughout the rest of the world as wellso we must use our voices this way too.

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    1. Oh, the thanks are all to Old Egg, my friends. It is my pleasure and privilege to put it together, but the credit is all his. Robin, you know how deeply I am with you on the topic of climate change and concern for the natural world. My friends and I have been talking about this for 40 years - and here we are today, barely a glimmer ahead of what we were back then. Some progress has been made, but not enough and far too slowly.

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    2. Thank for your approval Martin. Sherry you have been a strong advocate for preserving our wildlife and this beautiful world we live in through so many of your posts. I am so glad I have been able to add my voice to the cause.

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    3. I'm glad, too, Robin, as i know you care deeply.

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  5. Those whale related photos are gorgeous, it's equally nice to see Robin conversing outside of his romantic poetry room. Luv the poet Old Egg whom pines for environmental management and sustainable also

    Thanks Robin and Sherry for this feature

    Much love...

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    1. Thank you for your compliments Gillena. Everywhere in the world we should be watchful for the degrading of the beauty of the planet that may well reduce the planet's viability.

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  6. Such a wonderful, precious read! Thank you both of you!

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    1. Thank you Sreeja, what beautiful words you used and so apt as the world in all its beauty is precious.

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  7. This conversation along with the beautiful poems bring some comfort in these days of pettiness and greed. Thank you Robin and Sherry for sharing with us your thoughts.

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    1. Thank you Sumana, how right you are it is pettiness and greed and of course blindness to the truth that will see much more of our planet ruined in our own lifetime.

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  8. I am so happy you are enjoying this chat, my friends. It was such a pleasure to put together. Robin, thank you for your concern for this poor struggling world of ours.

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  9. I, too, enjoy these poems--maybe even need them--so I am delighted to see you feature them and Robin, Sherry. It also makes me want to travel to Australia more than ever, Robin. How to travel without hurting the eco-system and the pocketbook? You know, I believe we could and can feed and house the population of the earth. How does it benefit us--or someone--not to do it? I would love to help grow the gratitude and generosity that would wipe out greed and fear.

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    1. Thank you Susan, I do hope that can visit Australia one day for it is a most varied and beautiful place to explore and has some quite unique animals and birds to see (not only in zoos and conservation areas) all over the country.

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  10. What a wonderful feature! Robin, you have expressed things that many of us feel. So much in nature does not seem to be appreciated in the same way as it was earlier. And I wonder how much irreversible damage has already been done! We are indeed, like you expressed, hastening the disaster with our actions! It must be wonderful, Robin, to see whales so regularly as you do! I do hope that the next generations will have this opportunity as well. Sherry, thank you for this glimpse into Robin's world. Robin, thank you for your very thought-provoking poetry!

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    1. Thank you Mary, even some conservation areas are under threat which seems to defy all logic, but hopefully there can be a sufficient outcry from concerned people to dissuade governments from approving developments there.

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  11. I so much enjoyed "listening in" on your conversation especially your comments about whales, their grandeur and beauty. What a struggle it is to remain hopeful that humanity comes to its senses. Thank you for these two poems Robbin. They express what so many of us are feeling. Sherry I hope, along with you, for the transformation of consciousness that will change our approach to this planet.

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    1. On the Canadian news last night, six right whales were found dead with no current explanation. Very alarming.

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    2. Thank you Myrna for listening in. A whale incident happened here in South Australia this week with one dying beached a few miles south of Adelaide. I this case however it looked as that it may have been old and ill and covered with parasites.

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  12. A very interesting interview with Robin, I really did enjoy reading it. And so thank you,Sherry, and Robin.

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    1. Thank you Julian for your visit, I noted in your profile about your affiliation with Victor Hugo (in living on the isle of Guernsey!) I am sure that inspires your writing as well!

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  13. Robin, your poetry is always exquisite, and these two poems are indicative of your caring nature. I live in the US, and am appalled by the greed, and stupidity of this president. I cringe to think of the damage that will be done over the next four years. Thank you, Sherry, for this wonderful interview.

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    1. Thank you Sara for your comments. Sadly it is not only in the US that the planet's need for care is being ignored. There are so few countries committed to a plan for survival as investors and magnates trash the Earth with no mind for the future.

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  14. A great interchange, Robin and Sherry. I do see tiny steps toward being better tenants of Mother Earth here in my neighborhood with the advent of large recycle bins. It is good to see more is going into the recycle bins than into the trash receptacles. A small, but significant, step. We cannot all do great things, but we can start with small ones.

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    1. Thank you Indybev for the visit. It is so important that developed countries are responsible their waste so then it will be easier for developing nations to follow our example. We should never have invented plastic!

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  15. If everyone takes small steps, it will help for sure. We need legislators to take large ones which they are loathe to do.

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  16. I really like this kind of poem and Old Egg , you do it well. Thanks so much for sharing Sherry.

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    1. Thank you Annell for your comment, Luckily my muse does pay me a visit occasionally and help find the right words to put down.

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  17. How wonderful to read your amazing poems Robin....and I loved the conversation Sherry as it is so close to my heart. I am hopeful that the greed, fear and hypocrisy will continue to backfire on these inhumane politicians.

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  18. Thank you so much Donna, one of the sad things abou democracy is that we vote for politicians to represent us but always find they support big business and developers over the needs of the whole world risking our survival.

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  19. Sigh...the survival prediction for the Barrier Reef is not good.I think it is too late to be saved. The coal mining and fracking industry owned by foreign investment is going to destroy the rich black soil Liverpool Plains of NSW ...the state's food bowl.City people never give a thought to where their food comes from. They will when it is imported and they are paying a fortune for it. Once the aquifers are destroyed
    then it is too late.

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    1. Thanks for your visit Rall. Well that has put the scenario here clearly to us all. Why is it that so few people see the impending doom while an uncaring few financiers make millions while our governments smile in approval?

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  20. A wonderful feature! I always enjoy Robin's poetry it comes from his heart. I too worry about the future of the world.

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    1. Thank you so much Truedessa, sadly wherever we live in the world greed and mindlessness are destroying this Earth of ours.

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