Proust Nature Questionnaire – Zach Rabinor


ZACH RABINOR was seduced early on by Mexico’s vibrant cultures, towering peaks, thundering surf and intoxicating cuisine. As the Founder, President and CEO of award winning travel company Journey Mexico, Zach oversees all aspects of the company’s operation and takes special interest and delight in the details of product development, marketing, and business development. Under Zach’s leadership, Journey Mexico has achieved dynamic growth as evidenced by their inclusion as an Inc. 5000 Company consecutively from 2009 through 2016, and has earned top honors and recognition including: National Geographic‘s Best Tour Operators on Earth, National Geographic “50 Tours of a Lifetime”, Travel & Leisure Best Adventure Trips, Travel & Leisure Best Adventure Outfitters, and The New York Times Adventure Guide. Zach has been personally recognized as a top expert by leading luxury travel publications: Conde Nast Traveller Top Travel Specialist 2010-2017, Conde Nast Traveller Top Villa Specialist 2011-2013; and Travel & Leisure A-List 2010-2017 as well as being named a Trusted Travel Expert on Wendy Perrin’s inaugural Wow List 2014 and each year subsequently (2015-2017). Zach is a Regional Member of the World Travel and Tourism Council, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Oceanic Society; he has been sought out in the press on matters relating to Mexico, tourism, and travel including interviews in: Forbes and NPR and a host of other prominent publications.

When not designing new itineraries or leading exploratory expeditions, Zach can be found searching for waves and Mexico’s best ceviche on his beloved Pacific Coast. He lives in Puerto Vallarta with his wife Rebecca and their two sons Sam and Nat.

3 words to describe Nature?

Vast, Powerful, Awe-inspiring

3 things Nature taught you?

Humility, Self Reliance, Faith, Respect

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Ocean, Mountains, Rivers

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Alive, Small, Respectful, Hopeful, Dreamy, Spiritual, Complete

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

Peaceful, Quiet, Ephemeral

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

Alert, Curious, Wondrous, Ambitious

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

Inspired, Peaceful, Contemplative, Romantic

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited, Suspenseful, Small

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Desolate, Watchful, Pensive

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

10+

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

The first time I surfed through a blizzard I was thrilled, humbled, elated, and terrified; I knew I would never live anywhere far from the sea.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Mario Cyr


MARIO CYR is an internationally renowned expedition leader for Arctic and Antarctic missions. He is a cold-water diving expert and a world-class cinematographer. Cyr has participated in more than 150 films for broadcasters such as National Geographic, Discovery Channel, the BBC, IMAX 3D, Disney Productions, CBC and David Suzuki, la Société Cousteau, France 2, Arte and NHK Japan. In 2011, he won the Palme d’Or at the Festival d’Antibes for Walrus:Toothed Titans. His contribution to Oceans, directed by Jacques Perrin, helped the film win a César for Best Documentary. In 2013, his Ice Bear 3D got an Emmy nomination.

Originally from the Magdalen Islands, located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Mario has become one of the very few specialists of cold water diving, capturing spectacular and unique scenes from marine life in the Arctic and Antarctic poles. In 1991, he pioneered filming wild walrus packs and polar bears at a very close range. His expertise and knowledge has enabled him to film authentic and never-before-seen underwater images of swimming polar bears and a female walrus nursing her young.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Imposing. Splendid. Fragile

3 things Nature taught you? 

Patience. Listening. Time arranges many things

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

The beach Old Harry Magdalen Island

Queen Charlotte Island

Tuvalu Island, South Pacific

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

I feel infinitely small.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

I keep repeating myself that all trees are alive.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

That we are tiny in front of such a power.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

That I am lucky to see such beauty.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

For some reason, I always think of past empires and the fear they instilled through their powerful conquests.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

I return to my childhood when I hid under the patio afraid of the high winds.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Ocean

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory 

My summer on a splendid beach Bluff on the Magdalen Island.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Dave Freeman

DAVE FREEMAN have traveled over 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through some of the world’s wildest places, from the Amazon to the Arctic. National Geographic named him and his wife, Amy Freeman, Adventurers of the Year in 2014. Their images, videos, and articles have been published by a wide range of media, from CBC, NBC, and FOX to the Chicago Tribune, National Geographic, Outside, Backpacker, Canoe and Kayak, and Minnesota Public Radio. When Dave and Amy aren’t on expeditions or speaking tours, they guide canoe, kayak and dogsled trips near their home on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Northern Minnesota. Check their educational company – Wilderness Classroom.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Calming, dynamic, grand

3 things Nature taught you? 

Confidence, humility, happiness

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness

Lake Superior

Amazon Rainforest

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Small

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

Alive

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Young

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Calm

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…? 

Alert

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?  

It depends on the situation anywhere from excited to terrified.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Ocean and Forest, but lakes and rivers more than anything.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

10

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

I remember by first canoe trip in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness when I was 12. I remember listening to loons calling on calm evenings and catching small mouth bass. It felt like we were in the middle of a vast Wilderness even though we had just scratched the surface.

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Katie Losey

A lifelong wildlife enthusiast, KATIE LOSEY loves to explore the world’s most far-flung corners and hopes to inspire others to live out their wildest adventures through her words and images. At the heart of what guides most of her decisions is learning from the natural world, a strong thread throughout her life. Out of college, she began working at nonprofit Puppies Behind Bars, and too many times found herself reading National Geographic articles about the plight of African and Asian elephants. A year later, she was at an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Her experiences connecting with these brilliant creatures continues to shape her world.

After returning to NYC from Southeast Asia, Katie found a home at an experiential travel company that plans private, custom journeys. Her trips have put her beneath orangutang swinging across Borneo’s canopy, gliding alongside sharks in Cuba, dancing on a 10,000 year-old glacier in British Columbia, and tracking gorillas in Uganda. Katie’s passion to link travel with conservation spearheaded Absolute Awareness, which connects travelers with the world’s wild places, creatures, and traditions to help champion and protect them.

In 2015 she became a member of The Explorers Club, whose mission is to advance field research, scientific exploration, resource conservation, and the ideal that it is vital to preserve the instinct to explore. In 2017 she co-chaired the 113th Explorers Club Annual Dinner, helping conceptualize and execute the longest standing philanthropic event in NYC history and a gathering of > 1200 world-class explorers in New York City.

3 words to describe Nature? 

Genius, wise, interconnected

3 things Nature taught you? 

Be patient

Seek symbiotic relationships

Find your own rhythm.

3 most treasured Nature spots? 

Malaysian Borneo Rainforest

Underwater world

The stream behind my house growing up in NY suburbs.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…? 

Calm

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…? 

At ease

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…? 

Inspired

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…? 

Calm.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Excited!

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…? 

Serene

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person? 

Forest

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being? 

8

Share with us a childhood nature memory? 

Everyday after school I would go down to the stream behind my house and hang over a log that had fallen across the stream and watch the minnows, crayfish, and would just be so happy. I would bring my friends down there and I would know every rock, every fish hiding spot, the sunny spots, the bugs ones…loved it down there!

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Robert Clark

ROBERT CLARK is a freelance photographer based in New York City, working with the world’s leading magazines, publishers and cutting edge advertising campaigns, as well as the author of four monographs: Evolution A Visual Record, Feathers Displays of Brilliant Plumage, First Down Houston A Year with the Houston Texans and Image America – the first photography book shot solely with a cellphone camera. During his twenty-year association with National Geographic, Clark has photographed more than 40 stories. His cover article “Was Darwin Wrong?” helped National Geographic garner a National Magazine award in 2005. Early in his career, Clark documented the lives of high school football players for the book Friday Night Lights. In 2003, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston brought Clark back to Texas to capture the first year of the new NFL team, the Houston Texans. Clark recently directed the short film “8 Seconds” as part of an advertorial campaign for Russell Athletic. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter, and is the owner of Ten Ton Studio in the Brooklyn Navy Yards. He can be followed on Instagram.

3 things Nature taught you?

Patience

The awesome power of geological evolution

How fragile it all is when we ignore it

3 most treasured Nature spots?

Joshua Tree

The Kluane National Park, Canada

The Andes, above the Sacred Valley​

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

Full of possibilities

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

I find forests spooky.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

I repelled into Vesuvio ​for a National Geographic story and it made me feel the power of Nature at awe of the amount of force that was released in the blasts from the volcano.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

I think about good light for photography, and either way it is a new beginning.​

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Reminds me of my childhood in Western Kansas​.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

Running in Western Kansas, it is always windy in my home town.​

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

l love the desert.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

Increasingly more important after living in Brooklyn for so long.​

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My home was on the Monarch butterfly migration route, I remember going to a creek in a park and sitting down and having the butterflies cover me from head to toe.

 

Proust Nature Questionnaire – Kedyn Sierra

screen-shot-2017-01-17-at-10-03-36-amKEDYN SIERRA is W.I.L.D.‘s 1st scholarship recipient. He is an Adventure & Commercial Photographer and Filmmaker, a proud brand ambassador for Guayaki Yerba Mate and sponsored photographer for SOG Knives, Kokatat, Klean Kanteen, Confluence among others. His work has been featured by DPR Construction, NOLS, Voltaic Systems, The Leader, National Geographic Student Expeditions, Environmental Traveling Companions, Klean Kanteen, Sierra Designs, and The Wild Image Project.

3 things Nature taught you?

Humbleness, responsibility, self-worth

3 most treasured Nature spots?

I met a weasel by a small creek in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness, I feel absolutely upset that I can’t pinpoint it. The second spot is Raymond Lake on the PCT Trail. I’ve never felt utter pain and exhaustion from a hike so for that it takes second. The last place that comes to mind is Avalas Beach, a small patch where people can kayak into while on Tomales Bay. Avalas shows you the meeting point of the bay and the great pacific ocean.

When you look at the ocean, it makes you feel…?

I feel calmness from the tranquility of the water. I realize I am simply a piece to a greater magnificent piece of life.

When you see a forest, it makes you feel…?

The forests make me feel immersed.

When you see a volcano, it makes you feel…?

When I saw a Volcano (sleeping volcano) I felt on top of the world. 360 view of the landscape definitely feels phenomenal.

When you see a sunrise or sunset, it makes you feel…?

I feel short on time. The minute the sun sets, the day has ended or begun depending on what’s happening. Sunrises make me appreciate everything because I rarely get to see those.

When you hear thunder, it makes you feel…?

Thunder makes me feel refreshed.

When you hear the wind howling, it makes you feel…?

When the wind howls it focuses me.

Are you an Ocean, Mountain, Forest, or Desert person?

A Forest person – conditions tend to be unfavorable in the Forest though it’s the only place you can truly feel the way everything is connected to one another.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is Nature to your well-being?

I would put a 10 to Nature for my well-being. Without it, I can’t seem to understand anything.

Share with us a childhood nature memory?

My family was born into a minimalist lifestyle in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula. I was raised around animals, cows, turkeys, chickens, ducks, cats, dogs amongst others. It wasn’t in a farm environment but rather heavy forest. The memory of the endless roaming with the imagination of a bliss kid was absolutely phenomenal and short lived.

kedyn

BLUE recap Final

Day 6 was a day of Leaders & Legends. Hosted my I-O Glass is Life, the lunch ceremony was to honour a group of exceptional individuals who have dedicated their lives for the conservation and care of the oceans. Barton Seaver, the master of ceremony, started the event by telling the audience about his own experience with the ocean, spending days fishing the Chesapeake Bay in Washington and discovering later in his life how pretty much everything he used to fish was no longer available. Seaver is a National Geographic Fellow and has now become an influential voice in the culinary world for his take on seafood and sustainability. In his first book, “For Cod and Country”, Seaver introduced an entirely new kind of cooking featuring seafood that hasn’t been overfished or harvested using destructive methods. He is also the host of National Geographic’s Web series “Cook-Wise”.

First to receive the honour was Robert Ballard. Ballard has been diving the depths of the oceans for more than 40 years and is mostly known for the discoveries of the wrecks of the RMS Titanic, the battleship Bismarck, the aircraft carrier USS Yorktown and the wreck of John F. Kennedy’s PT-109. In 1990, he received the Academy of Achievement’s Golden Plate Award. He was the recipient of the Kilby International Awards in 1994 and of the Caird Medal of the National Maritime Museum in 2002. In 2004, Ballard was appointed professor of oceanography, and currently serves as Director of the Institute for Archaeological Oceanography, at the University of Rhode Island’s Graduate School of Oceanography.

The second to come to the podium was Sylvia Earle. Commonly known as “Her Deepness”, Earle is a legend in the ocean community. Explorer-in-Residence at the National Geographic Society, leader of the Sustainable Seas Expeditions, council chair for the Harte Research Institute for the Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, founder and chairman of the Deep Search Foundation, and the chair of the Advisory Council for the Ocean in Google Earth, she was named  by Time Magazine as the first Hero for the Planet. She has led more than 60 expeditions worldwide with more than 7,000 hours underwater in connection to her research.

Next on the list was Marcus Erikson. Marcus, a Gulf War veteran made a in promise to another marine in 2003: ‘If we survive this war, lets float down the Mississippi River.” Which he did, with “Bottle Rocket”, floating 2000 miles in 5 months on 232 plastic bottles to the Gulf of Mexico. In 2007, along with Anna Cummins, he built a raft using 15,000 plastic bottles, and called it JUNK. He then sailed the raft from Los Angeles to Hawaii. Since then they founded 5 Gyres  an organisation dedicated to science, education and adventure, and sailed 25,000 miles into the 5 subtropical gyres to document the global distribution of plastic pollution.

Graham Kelleher became the first Chairman and CEO of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. He worked with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and became the first Vice-Chairman, Marine of its World Commission on Protected Areas. He has designed systems of marine protected areas in several countries and is at present a member of the Scientific Council for MPAs in West Africa. He is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Technological Science and Engineering, of the Environment Institute of Australia and New Zealand and of the Institution of Engineers, Australia. He was awarded Officer of the Order of Australia, Fred M Packard International Parks Merit Award, the Centenary Medal and investiture into the Hall of Fame, Institution of Engineers, Australia.

Wallace Nichols is known for his relentless work on turtles and for giving away blue marbles. He has done extensive work on proving the neurological benefits of the ocean, the colour blue and the positive power of giving. He is a Research Associate at California Academy of Sciences and founder/co-director of OceanRevolution. He has authored and co-authored more than 50 scientific papers and reports and his work has been broadcast on NPR, BBC, PBS, National Geographic and Animal Planet and featured in Time, Newsweek, GQ, Outside Magazine, Fast Company, Scientific American and New Scientist, among others. He is also the founder of BLUEMiND: The Mind + Ocean, an initiative, merging the fields of cognitive science and ocean exploration. Nichols took the stage and before thanking the audience went on to honour one of his most important mentors – Graham Kelleher. The moment totally took Kelleher by surprise and obviously touched him tremendously. The two embraced and reminded everyone one the importance of the work we do and the affect it has on younger generations. Make sure to read Wallace’s interview in Outside magazine.

The final honouree was Louie Psihoyos, producer of the movie The Cove. His first documentary has won over 70 awards globally including the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2009. In 1980, at the age of twenty-three, he was hired by National Geographic and remained with the magazine for seventeen years. He has since received multiple awards for his photography, including first place in the World Press Contest and the Hearst Award. He has worked with magazines such as Smithsonian, Discover, GEO, Time, Newsweek, New York Times Magazine, New York Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.

Now that lunch was over, it was time for everyone to prepare themselves for the BLUE Carpet Awards ceremony and gala. Taking place at the Golden State theatre. The event felt more like an oceanic Oscar night, with photographers everywhere snapping shots of celebrities and of the directors/producers of more than 100 films. The big winner of the night was “The Island President”, but make sure to click here to see the list of winners. The BLUE Ocean Film Festival & Conservation Summit was a huge success this year and I think I can speak on behalf of everyone when I say that we are looking forward to the next one…. in Monaco maybe, 2013? We surely hope so. Stay tuned!

The Last Explorers 2

Thanks to James Cameron’s recent extraordinary journey to the bottom of the ocean, and other personal events, I felt the  need to write a second part to my previous post “The Last Explorers”.

Although I could have used a series of other excuses to justify continuing explaining my point about the declining of the spirit of exploration, it was a report on the BBC’s website that got me all itchy.

Journalist Rebecca Morell, on site in Guam, was doing an update right after Cameron had came back from the deepest place on Earth. The short interview featured on the web was so unprofessional, I asked myself if I had mistakenly switched to Fox News.

The other voice in the clip, a man at the BBC studio, started by saying: “This is supposed to be a bit of a race involving a team from Google and one sponsored by Richard Branson – but it is over before it really begun hasn’t it?”

Did anyone brief this person before he went on air? The race to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench has been on for years – the last five mostly in secrecy. Tens of millions have been spent and three other teams have planned expeditions this year alone, DOER Marine, Virgin Oceanic and Triton Submarines. The race is not over before it begun, the race has been won!

Morell continued, cordially, informing him that it had indeed been a race with a winner. She then told how Cameron wanted to inspire a new era of ocean exploration. The man reciprocated: “It is a puzzling point though, if it has been done before because of a US navy team which reached the bottom of the Mariana trench 50 years ago, to what extent is it a pioneering dive that he has just completed ?”.

Seriously?

If that was not enough, they concluded the segment by pointing out that: “Some scientists question whether you actually need to have humans at the bottom to explore when you can do things like drop down underwater robots”.

This should have been a “walking on the moon” moment with the entire world (and most importantly the entire exploration community) celebrating. If this is true that some scientists really question the need to “Physically” explore the unknown, shame on them! Why go to Mars if we can send a robot? Why meet and talk to people in the flesh if you can do it online?

The other surprising fact was the almost total absence of two of the most legendary exploration clubs, the Royal Geographical Society and the Explorers Club. Founded in 1830, the RGS enshrines such famous names as Livingstone, Stanley, Scott, Shackleton, Hunt and Hillary. There was not a word about the expedition from them, not on their twitter site, nor their News site. The Explorers Club has members including the first man to reach the North and South Pole, the first to climb the summit of Mount Everest, and the first to step on the surface of the moon. Captain Don Walsh, former Honorary Club President, who was part of the first manned expedition to the bottom of the Trench was actually onboard with Cameron for this historical feat. Sadly, the Club only tweeted little bits about this groundbreaking event, and nothing was written on their News/Bog site. A pity and shame for these institutions who have the responsibility of carrying on the flame of exploration.

As many of you know, I am in the process of putting together a large expedition, a 6-year around the world sailing expedition, called E.P.I.C. Aboard two 35m aluminum hull sailing boats, with retractable keels, we will visit over 250 of the remotest islands in the world. Doing documentary film making, photography, conservation campaigns, and science projects, this endeavor is reminiscent of the Golden Age of maritime exploration. The budget is obviously huge and the challenges seemingly impossible. The reactions I usually get could be summed up in three words: “Really? Why? Good Luck!” No worries, I do get my share of encouragements, but last week I received a couple of comments that reminded me why I was sacrificing everything to make this project of mine happen.

The first one came from Prince Michael of Kent, whom I had the honor to meet in his office at Kensington Palace in London. Listening carefully to my presentation, his eyes opened up and I could see a glare in them. He looked at me and said: ”Finally! It is so refreshing to see that the real spirit of exploration, the one I grew up with, these big dreams of exploring the world, of not being afraid of leaving the comfort zone behind, do still exist. I am glad to know that the flame is not extinguished and is being carried on. Thank you”

The second comment came from Bill Vartorella, who is a fellow of both the Explorers Club and the Royal Geographical Society, and a member of the Overseas Press Club and Rotary. In his email, Mr. Vartorella said: “This is a gutsy expedition that cuts to the heart of grand exploration tradition (something abandoned by some organizations, as per vote of membership several years ago, re: grants), while embracing high-tech, with the ocean as central theme/connective tissue to past and present.   The intro and feel of your 30-page brochure are riveting. This is a great expedition!” 

It is always difficult to explain why I want to commit the next 10 years to a project that seems impossible. It is hard to find people that “get it”! When I see projects like Cameron’s journey to the ocean depths and when I get comments like those two last week, I am reminded that I am on the right track and that I don’t always have to explain my reasons. I just have to listen to that little voice inside of me that tells me to keep on going, and to keep pushing the envelope. One day, when I am on the boat, sailing the oceans like the great explorers of yesterday, all this hard work, all these days where I was left without a single penny, all this hardship, and all these days where I felt like abandoning the project, yet kept on going, to the disbelief of many, all this, will have been worth it. Because that is what these grand-scale expeditions are for, to remind us that everything is possible, that our dreams are never too big.

Nature is not in your computer!

“Today, kids are aware of the global threats to the environment – but their physical contact, their intimacy with nature, is fading. That’s exactly the opposite of how it was when I was a child.” Richard Louv

The United Nations predicts that by 2030, more than 60% of the world’s population will live in cities. By then, in the U.K., city dwellers will represents 92% of the population. It is quite a sharp contrast to back in 1950, when the world’s urban population represented only 30%. While this new reality clearly shows a growing physical disconnection with nature, another reality, much more subtle, is making people believe otherwise.

When I grew up, there were people who spent a lot of time in nature, and there were people who simply did not. The “outdoor” people were usually fishermen, hunters, campers, hikers, etc. They cared about nature because they spent time in it. The people who rarely ventured away from the asphalt, were, with no shame, just not concerned with the wild world. The environment was not really a debate, but rather a destination. What we learned in school about nature was more scientific, like ecology and biology, alongside geography and history. On television, you had Jacques Cousteau, Jim Fowler, David Suzuki, and David Attenborough. Each was a nature journalist, reporting on the wilderness, out there and out of reach. They showed us wild worlds with amazing animals, feeding our growing appetite for adventure. Back in those days, loving nature didn’t equate with being a vegetarian, or to campaign against animal cruelty. In fact, all the television personalities mentioned above fished or even hunted.

Today, the picture could not be more different. Technology has totally transformed our perception of the wild word.  While nowadays we rarely spend time in nature, people are constantly made aware of it. Discovery and National Geographic stream 24 hour/day entertainment shows. Social media makes it possible for anyone to care about environmental causes, anywhere, independently if they are well informed or affected by it. The Internet allows any individual to post anything they want without any particular context or further explanation.  Not one day goes by without seeing a photo of a baby panda, a dolphin, a shark being butchered or a dead seal entangled in a fishing net. Nature has become an ideology people are fighting for. It is no longer a destination but rather the emotionally charged and personified notion of an animal’s struggle to survive, whether it is the “march of the emperor penguin” or the “fate of the polar bears”. We now live in a world where natural realities are being blown out of proportion and every minute struggle in an animal’s life is over empathized for. Living in cities, feeding ourselves from grocery stores and spending our weekends in the park around the corner, the natural world has become a beautified concept, a Disney story and a pretty picture on the wall. Anything that contradicts this notion is deemed anti-nature or anti-animals. Animal welfare organizations, based in cities, are raging wars against society and anyone who doesn’t agree with their belief that any creature has a soul and humans have no right to take it away. In their view, plastic, genetically created meat, and soy-everything, is the way for the future. A meat eater, a fish eater, or a person wearing leather or fur, independently where and how it was processed, is targeted as cruel and against the natural world. For the indigenous people, who have lived off the land and the sea for millennia, with sustainable practices and honoring their connection with the earth, this intrusion from people who know nothing about their lifestyle and culture is seen as extremely hypocritical and shallow.

Worse, Google Earth and sites like theBlu are advertising themselves as places where one can “explore” the world. A recent article in the Los Angeles Times stated: “It’s a living, breathing ocean that you can “dive into,” exploring underwater habitats from the Indian Ocean to the Sea of Cortez while encountering thousands of fish — as they swim across your computer screen.” The computer screen is nothing like being out in the wilderness. It is nothing like exploring other countries for real or mingling with other cultures. Pressing keys on the keyboard does not make you an explorer nor and adventurer, and even less a naturalist or an environmentalist. Clicking the “Like” button on a Facebook Cause does not mean you care or simply understand what you clicked for. Watching Blue Planet on BBC doesn’t mean you love the ocean. What you love is being entertained by something beautiful. But the natural world is not just a cute teddy bear that you can spend your nights cuddling with. Nature is a raw chaotic world where each creature competes with each other, culminating in a very complex, intertwined balance that took millions of years to create, and CONTINUES to evolve .

By being so physically disconnected from it, we have totally forgotten what nature really is all about. We even go as far as to personalizing it, characterizing it as a female, “Mother Nature”. This concept of singularity simply doesn’t exist. In the natural world, both constructive and destructive forces are essential. Both the attack and the defense are crucial for survival. What is motherly? Volcanoes, hurricanes, droughts? Hyenas eating an antelope alive? A pod of orcas drowning a whale calf?

We have to be careful because our lack of relationship with nature and our disconnection from its dynamics and forces, can have grave consequences. As the Arctic is being developed, westernized countries and their mediatically-sensitized populations will most likely clash with indigenous people and their culture, as it just happened in Greenland. The Inuit have been hunting seals for as long as they can remember. And looking at the number of seals, they have done quite a good job at making sure that their hunt was sustainable. Compared to the western world which has had a reputation of decimating everything it goes for, from whales to fur seals, from wolves to buffalos, from tuna to mackerel.  Because we have done such a bad job with the planet’s resources, or such a good job of exterminating them, we now project our guilt onto others. The EU ban on seal products has created devastating effects on the Inuit’s culture and economy. The ban came after emotionally charged media campaigns, portraying fluffy white baby seals being clubbed to death and skinned. In the name of animal welfare, the EU decided to impose the ban. What people didn’t know was that the Inuit have an ancestral right to hunt. The ban didn’t reduce the number of seals hunted every year in Greenland. What it did, was strip away the right of the Inuit to make a living. Consequently, there are over 300,000 skins in stock in Greenland worth millions for the Inuit. Most likely, the skins will be destroyed, taking away with them the welfare of several communities.

It is crucial to do everything possible to take children outside of the cities, away from the computer and television. They need to experience the real natural world, not the urban or virtual version of it. Tim Kasser, Professor and Chair of Psychology at Knox College, correctly points out in his report: “Children, Commercialism, and Environmental Sustainability

“While not typically seen as an “environmental issue,” those concerned about the environment should be sobered by the increasing commercialization of childhood, as the same generation of children that is being encouraged to prioritize wealth, consumption, and possessions is the same generation that, if current trends continue, will need to drastically reduce its consumption patterns so as to prevent further global climate disruption, habitat loss, and species extinction… What’s more, recent research shows that the materialistic values encouraged by advertising messages are also quite problematic for environmental outcomes. For example, studies around the world make it clear that the more people care about money, wealth, and possessions, the less they value protecting the environment and the less concerned they are about how environmental damage affects other humans, future generations, and non-human life. Other research shows that materialistic values negatively correlate with how frequently adults and children engage in pro-environmental behaviors such as commuting by bicycle, reusing paper, buying secondhand, and recycling.”

Furthermore, We also have to be careful with what we promote and how we promote it. Social media and the Internet won’t make people change their daily routines. It might inform them, make them aware of something, but it is certainly not enough to change them. Writing “Cigarettes will kill you” on a pack doesn’t make someone stop smoking, but paying close to $10 for a pack might.

We might have the knowledge, but we greatly struggle with applying it. Social media, the Internet, computers and television are not a replacement for true wilderness, traveling, or exploring. We must be careful of the pretentious western environmental imperialism we so easily practice. Lets change our own tragically unsustainable culture first. Lets put in place the right legislations, lets decrease our production of garbage, lets reduce our consumption, lets show our children that there is more to life than cities and technology, let ourselves first reconnect with the natural environment and its realities, before telling others, who might be living off the land and sea and have done so in a sustainable way for generations, what they should do.

“We have two kinds of morality side by side:  one which we preach but do not practice and another which we practice but seldom preach. “  Bertrand Russell