ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Weston Ochse is a former intelligence officer and special operations soldier who has engaged enemy combatants, terrorists, narco smugglers, and human traffickers. His personal war stories include performing humanitarian operations over Bangladesh, being deployed to Afghanistan, and a near miss being cannibalized in Papua New Guinea. His fiction and non-fiction has been praised by USA Today, The Atlantic, The New York Post, The Financial Times of London, and Publishers Weekly. The American Library Association labeled him one of the Major Horror Authors of the 21st Century. His work has also won the Bram Stoker Award, been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and won multiple New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards. A writer of more than 26 books in multiple genres, his military supernatural series SEAL Team 666 has been optioned to be a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. His military sci fi series, which starts with Grunt Life, has been praised for its PTSD-positive depiction of soldiers at peace and at war. Weston likes to be called a chaotic good paladin and challenges anyone to disagree. After all, no one can really stand a goody two-shoes lawful good character. They can be so annoying. It's so much more fun to be chaotic, even when you're striving to save the world. You can argue with him about this and other things online at Living Dangerously or on Facebook at Badasswriter. All content of this blog is copywrited by Weston Ochse.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Dear Sir...Please Save Our Planet

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While listening to NPR Remix the other day, I was struck by a song they were using in a piece about William Temple Hornaday. The song is called Dear Sir and is performed by Black Prairie. You can actually listen to it in full and for free HERE.

Please listen, then go to Slate's article about William Temple Hornaday to understand its significance. Jon Mooallem wrote an amazing piece about a letter Hornaday left that wasn't read until 70 years later. This letter partially fueled the group think idea of what is now termed as Shifting Baseline Syndrome and how cultural memory can cause us to forget things. It's also about the buffalo. Of course the letter, like the song, begins with Dear Sir.

The idea of Shifting Baseline Syndrome is both amazing and aweful. From Hornaday's point of view, he believed that an America without buffalo would eventually become normal. Although this never happened because of acts of conservation and restraint, it has happened to the passenger pigeon for instance, which we hunted into extinction at the turn of the last century. There were an estimated 5 billion passenger pigeons when America was discovered. These avians were extremely easy to kill, however and became a food staple, as well as a source for feathers. In 1822, a single family killed 4000 passenger pigeons for their feathers. In the 1890s, they were so numerous that an entire day could go by while a cloud of pigeons flew over. Seriously. They were an indelible part of our landscape. Well, not so indelible. They're gone. The last passenger pigeon died in 1914. You can read their extinction story HERE.

Why should we care?

Imagine a world without dolphins or whales. Image us thinking how natural that is.

You don't care?

Fine.

Then imagine a world without dogs or cats.

Can't happen you say?

There were more passenger pigeons in 1880 than all the dogs and cats in America combined.

We live in a world where the lack of a passenger pigeon is conceived to be normal. The sort of cutlural and possibly global amnesia that goes into shifting baseline syndrome is scary. I don't know how to stop it except to ensure that the things which make up our great planet continue to be a part of it. This sort of behavior takes a conscious act of will.

We have to pay attention.

Conservation and the protection of our planet isn't a political thing. It's a human thing.

Listen to the song and think about this for a moment. Then, if you have time, do a conscious act of will. Support someone conserving something or take action yourself. I support Sea Shepherd Conservation Society not only because of the efforts they go through to preserve whales and dolphins, but also because they are pirates.

Argh!

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