It is wonderful to be back in Russia. I always enjoy Moscow. I was able to visit the Pushkin Museum yesterday. It was lovely and I am so happy to be here at the Kremlin again and so happy to have the opportunity to speak with you once more about these very important issues.
Setting aside politics and advocacy...
I would like to focus on what I consider to be the absolute most important threat to human survival, and that is the fate of our Ocean.
For the entire history of humanity, we have always taken the Ocean for granted.
It occupies more space than the land we walk upon -
and we have believed for centuries that there are more fish in the sea than we could ever take out of it.
That is no longer true.
We are looking at the prospect of an empty Ocean.
We have removed 90% of the large fishes from the sea.
We have driven many species such a sharks, blue fin tuna, wild salmon and hundreds of other fishes to the brink of extinction -
and most alarmingly of all -
We have seen a 40% diminishment of phytoplankton in the sea since 1950.
-It is phytoplankton that provides over 70% of the oxygen that this planet requires to sustain life.
We may well see the worldwide collapse of commercial fisheries within the next three decades.
When that occurs -
there will be severe economic, social -and ecological consequences.
And- If phytoplankton disappears, so do we.
Why is this happening?
During the 20th Century- we have severely reduced whale populations -
and, it is the whales- that supply the essential nutrients - for phytoplankton.
It’s called the whale pump. Bringing nutrients -
from the feces of whales
-from the depths to the surface to fertilize the plankton blooms.
One Blue whale alone -
produces three tons of iron and nitrogen rich fecal material each day -
and during the last hundred years we have removed 300,000 Blue whales alone
and severely reduced the populations of the other cetacean species.
I like to think of Earth as a spaceship -
We are on a voyage around this immense, Milky Way galaxy,
so immense, that we have only circumnavigated the Galaxy twenty times during the history of the planet- and the last time our planet was where it is now - (in coralation to the galaxy)
was some 250 million years ago -the time of the great Permian extinction -
Now we are faced with another threat of mass extinction.
and the cause of this is human activity.
-Extensive over-fishing, chemical,
destruction of rain-forests, diminishment of essential species of plants and animals -
As well as the escalating release of methane from permafrost
and from increased bacterial activity in soils -
All of this is happening now
as we orbit this wondrous Galaxy.
A spaceship requires two things for the occupants to survive. The first is a life support system -and our life support system is the biosphere,
And the Ocean, the forests and the soil provide the oxygen we breathe,
the food we eat,
recycles and stores carbon dioxide-
and regulates climate.
The second requirement for our survival -
is a crew to run this life support system.
We humans are not crew-members.
We are passengers -
having a great time, entertaining ourselves and gorging at the buffet.
But - we are also committing a horrendous crime. We are killing the essential crew-members that run the system.
The phytoplankton and rainforests that produce our oxygen-
The whales that fertilize and nurture the phytoplankton,
and birds that pollinate our crops,
And the bacteria that breakdown and recycle waste,
interdependence of all species that provide the essential services required to keep us all alive.
There is a general arrogance among humanity to simply ignore the importance of other species.
There also tends to be a denial that our species is threatened by climate change
and diminishment of biodiversity.
Many people reject that there are laws that are more important than human laws - and these laws if ignored solicit grave consequences.
There are three important ecological laws:
The law of diversity
meaning that the health of an eco-system
by the diversity of species within it.
The law of interdependence meaning that all of these species are inter-dependent.
And the law of finite resources meaning there is a limit to growth and a limit to carrying capacity.
Denying climate change is like denying gravity.
The evidence is rock solid and the reality can be denied -
but in the long term it can’t be ignored.
What impresses me about Russia,
is that these things are viewed objectively -
and the threats appreciated.
In some other places -
denial is bought by vested interests-
that profit in the short term from avoiding responsibility-
Russia has tremendous influence - as American's gossip -
let us be considering the ecological crisis brewing in places like North America and elsewhere,
some ecological influence
is surely needed -
and what is sure about Russia -
is it's willingness to act -
I very much appreciate that my concerns for whales, polar bears, tigers and many other species are taken seriously in this country-
I implore Russia to continue to take the leadership role in championing these species.
Polar bears are seriously threatened by the reality of global warming yet Canada allows some 800 polar bears to be killed every year- simply for sport.
-There is no necessity of slaughtering hundreds of thousands of seals every year.
--7 million sharks are slaughtered every year,
Seals, whales and sharks serve an important function in helping to stabilize marine eco-systems.
As a Canadian-
I would welcome Russia’s help in convincing the Canadian government to end commercial sealing and polar bear hunting.
As someone who cares very much for our Ocean,
I would welcome Russia’s help in protecting sharks and bringing an end to the killing of whales and dolphins.
I would also welcome Russia’s help in putting an end to the capture and exhibit of Orcas and dolphins in marine aquariums.
And help find a solution to Illegal captures and criminal sales to China.
It's a lucrative business I understand.
*7 mill for orca
^1 mill for beluga
*250,000 Taiji dolphins.
It must stop -
these animals are much more valuable left in there natural habitats.
Thank you Mr Ivanov for supporting the southern ocean sanctuary.
And I am so pleased that Mr Ivanov is in charge of the environment and transit policies of Russia
So that no permits will be issued to transport endangered species by land, sea or air which includes whales of course-
It is my desire to work with effective NGO’s like IFAW, and with interested nations- to protect our biodiversity-
-and to promote an understanding of how important it is that we develop a greater empathy for non-human life -
In turn - building sustainable communities-empowering people through education and a greener world industry and economy.
If I can help Russia in anyway to promote this empathy-
I am available to assist in any way I can.
I understand that Russia will be promoting
As 'the year of the Environment'.
Thank you for that -
It truley is, and must be.
I am very grateful and humbled by the opportunity to speak with the very caring, influencial and powerful people at this table-
Thank you for your ever evolving commitment to these important issues.