Monday, October 10, 2011

Carl Safina Proposes a Merger

Continuing where he left off with his excellent book A View From Lazy Point, Carl Safina, founder of Blue Ocean Institute at Stony Brook University, asked a rapt audience at the Institute’s annual gala to merge knowledge and commitment to stabilize a rapidly overheating planet and a changing ocean.

“In our private and civic lives, our religious places, and our business dealings we must all merge a scientific love of knowledge with a devotion as consistent and values-based as any religion.”

Speaking frankly about current challenges--from ocean acidification to overfishing-- Safina succeeded in conveying hope and inspiration.

Part-poet, part-philosopher, and part scientist, Safina once again added his own refreshing twist. He followed his description of watching a Peregrine Falcon hunting high over the ocean with a quote from Yeats. He spoke of compassion, consumerism and values.

Safina referenced Jacques Cousteau’s famous statement, “We protect only what we love” and went on to say that, “to protect effectively, we must fuse head and heart. Then, we can’t just watch, and we can’t just wait; we must also do. The falcon must search the waves, but it also must focus on a target and execute the plunge.”

He noted that we protect what we love "but not if the love burns us out. So in addition to working, we need to touch the beauty, and we need to have fun a goodly some of the time".

Touch the beauty -- sound and lovely advice.

Safina concluded by asking listeners to merge and embody three things: “Passion in how we care. Cool-headedness in how we evaluate. Devotion in how we act.” To celebrate the proposed merger (and have some fun) Safina lead the crowd in a cheer of “The Ocean Is…Too Big to Fail!”  He then encouraged all present to be part of the ocean’s “bailout.

With over 200 ocean supporters in the room, Institute fund and friend-raising exceeded expectations at The Lighthouse at Pier 61 in Chelsea.

Another highlight of the evening was a talk by Sven-Olof Lindblad, founder of Lindblad Expeditions, who was honored for his role in introducing thousands of travelers to the beauty and awe of nature.

Safina told of a prolific year for Blue Ocean Institute, which included two new books, his Saving the Ocean series airing on PBS, ongoing advances in ocean research, and successful educational programs such as Green Chefs/Blue Ocean. He previewed new initiatives such as an international youth ed program and companion tours of his books on Google Ocean.

During the program a special honor was presented to Marshall Gilchrist in memory of his late brother, Eric Gilchrist, a former board member of Blue Ocean whose bequest now serves as the beginning of an endowment for the Institute.

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