Nuggets From Carl Safina's Call
Posted by Aryae Coopersmith on Feb 12, 2020
Dr. Carl Safina is an ecologist who has been named among the Audubon magazine’s “100 Notable Conservationists of the 20th Century.” He is a gifted author who has dedicated his lyrical, non-fiction writing to exploring how we are changing the natural world and what the changes mean for human and non-human beings. In the natural environment, Safina sees the spiritual. The first Endowed Professor for Nature and Humanity at Stony Brook University, Carl is the founder of Safina Center, a nonprofit nature conservation and environmental organization which advances the case for life on Earth by creating an original blend of science, art, and literature. His most recent TED Talk “What are animals thinking and feeling?” received a million views in its first month. Author of several best-selling books, he hosted the 10-part PBS television series “Saving the Ocean”.
Below are some of the nuggets from the call that stood out for me ...
- I was born in Brooklyn NY, not a wild place. My father raised canaries, and brought us to the Bronx Zoo. I was a city kid, but I was always fascinated with wild animals.
- When I was a little kid in Brooklyn in an apartment building, a bird flew in through the window. It was an incredible bird, I had never seen anything like it. My father identified it as an Olivebacked Rush. It was like a mysterious visitor from another world. It made a lifelong impression on me.
- I fell in love with living things and animals, and I wanted to see where they lived. Wild places seemed really exotic to me.
- When I was I kid I started raising homing pigeons. I was fascinated that their lives seemed very much like ours.
- I used to be a falconer. I actually caught and tamed and trained hawks and falcons.
- Not long ago we were given an owl. It is on our property shows up every night. We have a fantastic relationship with this wild little owl.
- Kids are curious. Many animals when they're young are learning. Humans are like that too. It breaks my heart when parents squash that. One definition of a scientist is, someone who never stops asking, why is the sky blue?
- Most people's food is very impersonal. You can define a good meal by how much of a story is there in the food.
- My first interest is, what do animals do and why do they do it?
- I noticed in the ocean the fish and sea turtles and sharks were getting scarcer every year. So I got involved in ocean issues. That led to writing my first book.
- In the last three years my interests have broadened from ocean conservation, to the relation between humans and the rest of the natural world.
- When I had the pigeons and other animals, it seemed that they were very much like us. Later when I was studying in university, I learned to dismiss that as "anthropomorphizing." Then later still, I learned to reconnect with my perceptions as a seven year old. There are now thousands and thousands of studies of wild animal behavior. There is less rigidity among scientists. But there is a long way to go.
- Here in the U.S. most people have almost no contact with animals other than dogs and cats. I think this has catastrophic results. Populations of wild animals are at all time lows. This is a result of our lack of respect for them. And we've destroyed so many species for eternity.
- Most of the things we humans do in our world unfortunately are involved with the destruction of animals and the natural world.
- In places of extreme poverty, people don't have the luxury of taking care of the natural world. And in a degraded environment, humans can't live in dignity.
- Human dignity and the natural world are now completely dependent on each other.
Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!