I’ve been blogging here from time to time over more than a decade. The focus has changed over the years, but mostly I have been discussing recent events dealing with the environmental crisis. This focus was part of my belief that if we environmental scientists explained the science more effectively, people would be more willing to engage in efforts to stop climate change and other environmental treats. I genuinely believed that if people understood that we were eliminating coral reefs from the planet, the first ever ‘extinction’ of an ecosystem, they would be strongly motivated to work to stop that happening. I was wrong.
That realization led me to write my 2021 book: If I provided insights into why coral reefs were such magical systems, people would be more able to relate to them, to value them, and then to work to take better care of them. This approach may have some merit, but in many ways, my time for leading such a charge has passed and it is time for still-active scientists to do what they can to change the future.
In 2024, I am going to use this blog to write about things that interest me. Many posts will still involve environmental science, but others won’t. I have curiosity in lots of directions, and writing about that curiosity is therapeutic and fun. Maybe people will enjoy reading what I write, but, in many ways, I am doing this for me. So, take a look and tell your friends if you like what you see.
The turn of the year. 2023 folds into 2024. What has been accomplished? What possibilities are open for the future? Where are we headed? This transition is mirrored in the way in which the ocean meets the shore. One is a moment in time; the other timeless, but a moment in space. A changing, shifting, constant yet flowing, touching between water and land. Yet a touch of exquisite softness, even when the waves are crashing just beyond.
The ocean caresses the shore with one shimmering pane of water and foam after another. Watch closely and it mesmerizes. Watch too long and it may engulf you, because this meeting place shifts on rhythms set by the eternal motions of the stars, by the mostly gradual motions of the rocks that surface our planet, and by the whimsically transient changes we call weather! But watch long enough and tranquility will engulf you. Because the rhythms of the ocean lie also deep within every one of us – they are a part of us, and our souls sing in harmony with that caressing touch of the shore. With that tranquility comes a little wisdom.
It’s perhaps risky to conclude from watching waves on the shore that the changes in our lives will all be gentle, mesmerizing, soothing. But that the changes can be approached calmly, that they are unlikely to overwhelm, and that, in any event, they will come no matter what actions we take or avoid, to try and influence them; those thoughts can help us no matter what 2024 brings. And knowing that we cannot know all that will happen in the months ahead can also help us accept whatever the future brings.
At this time of year, my hope for everyone is that you find your perfect beach, that you make the time to immerse your mind in it, and that the motions of the ocean against the shore bring peacefulness, acceptance and joy in the fact that you live.
Peter Sale, 1 January 2024