Tonight our guest is Carl Safina, author of a new book titled, The View from Lazy Point (Henry Holt and Company, 2011). It is centered at the place where he lives at the tip of Long Island. Carl Safina is a marine biologist and writer who has a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Study from the State University of New York Purchase and a PhD in Ecology from Rutgers. He has written a number of articles and books on the fate and future of the oceans and their dependents.
1. Please begin by telling us about yourself and Lazy Point. Where is this place? Why did you come to live there?
2. Would you read a page or two for us? Perhaps you could read from from the Prelude or from your choice of a passage.
3. The book chronicles a year at Lazy Point, February to January–the arrival of the Red-Wing Blackbirds to their return a year later. Please tell us a few of your observations from Lazy Point that document changes in our environment, e.g.,
–Changes in bird populations and migration patterns. [It feels to us as if you are above all, a birdwatcher and bird lover--you write about the birds in such loving detail.]
–The horseshoe crabs.
–Fish–both fish passing by and those you catch, sometimes eat, and sometimes release. (Why do you go shark fishing?)
4. Interspersed with your observations from Lazy Point are trips to the corners of the earth: Arctic, Antarctic, Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean. How do your global observations corroborate and extend your view of the environmental crisis (e.g, salmon, whales, bears and smaller species)?
5. Many of your observations stress the interconnectedness of life, of symbiotic relationships not always obvious. Could you give us an example, perhaps your claim (p. 155) that “forests grow salmon” and “salmon also grow forests”?
6. An impossibly broad question: What do you see as the current State of the Union between people and the planet? Rising seas will submerge islands and exterminate species; yet, the Red-Wing Blackbird (still) returns to Lazy Point. When might we pass the tipping point?
8. Your book includes some instances where human intervention (or non-intervention) is making a difference in preserving the natural world (e.g., Falcons and Ospreys, the corals of Paulau). Do we have the scientific and technological knowledge to recover the ecological balance of the planet?
9. But you also write, “I know it’s heresy on a slippery slope to say this, but I don’t think conservation needs to focus on saving every nearly identical type of bird or lizard on every island.” (251) Please explain this. How does one determine the parameters of or criteria for preservation?
10. You write at length about economics and market capitalism and say that “Market economics falls on the wrong side of the moral divide.” What is being left out of current discussions of the market and the environment?
11. You also argue that “Problems of the environment are crucial matters of justice, peace, and morality.” (265) Can we anticipate that humans’ sense of these values will be enough to turn the tide?
12. As we read the book, we anticipated that your last chapter might outline programs for large-scale political, economic, and environmental action. But you focus instead on individual action. [Optional: Please read the wonderfully comprehensive paragraph for individual action beginning at the bottom of p. 310: "The revolution is as simple as this: . . . ] Why didn’t you include actions for, say, the U.S. Congress or the U.N. Climate Change conferees?
13. You have personally been involved in political and legislative actions to “ban high-seas driftnets, re-write U.S. fisheries law, use international agreements toward restoring tunas, sharks, and other fishes, achieve a United Nations fisheries treaty, and reduce albatross and sea turtle drownings on commercial fishing lines.” <blueocean.org> When do those kinds of actions kick in and how do they augment or grow from personal, moral actions?
14. Please tell us about the Blue Ocean Institute that you co-founded and how you use “art, science, and literature” in combination to raise people’s awareness of environmental issues.
We’ve been talking with Carl Safina, author of The View from Lazy Point: A Natural Year in an Unnatural World, published this month by Henry Holt and Company. We’d also encourage listeners to learn more about ocean preservation at the Blue Ocean Institute web site <blueocean.org>.
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