It’s funny how certain animals can capture the minds and hearts of humans so effectively. History is littered with instances where this animal was held in near god-like reverence, briefly dropping out of favor during the age when they were viewed as pests by the fishing industry. How did humans come to empathize so strongly with this animal? Unlike the salmon, another important species in the Northwest, the orca is not exploited for food. Few people depend on the orca like they have depended on salmon. However, some combination of scarcity, size, inherent majesty and symbolism work to make the orca equally precious in our mind. Of course, part of it is “Free Willy” which humanized it in our eyes. Would that we could create a movie as meaningful for every threatened species. As long as we’re dreaming, would that we didn’t have such a concept as threatened species. Humans can have such a disproportionate impact on the environment. Today, we went to a desalinization plant for our sociology field trip and learned that an average shower uses roughly 60 gallons of water. There was a tank that held 75 gallons and it was relatively easy to visualize about how much water that is. It’s a lot. I view showering as an essential activity, however, and frequently (~4-6 times a week) do it. Thats 240-360 gallons of water just to keep me clean. Just one of many examples of the disproportionate impacts humans have. A lot of the time I hear about these statistics and figures and it makes me really pessimistic about the future. Sure, people are thinking about these issues and working to find a solution, but for every one of those people, there are 5 others that can’t be bothered by issues of water scarcity enough to change their daily consumption. How are orcas and other species that are depending on us to reduce our impact supposed to make it out in a world like this?
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