Ok, you can try to guess what a charismatic mega-fauna is but I’ll give you a hint. I learned the term while completing my 12 hour introductory course on Marine Nature in Hawaii. The course covered a lot of different aspects including coral reefs, fish identification, hawaiian culture, turtles, Marine mammals (monk seals, dolphins and whales), Maui’s water supply and marine and fishing regulations. My “certification” basically is recognized by every marine naturalist organization in Maui as being a “trained” volunteer. It seems that every group needs volunteers so it will be a matter of deciding where I want to spend my time.
The last night was spent on how to effectively communicate to others as a naturalist or “How to get other people to connect with nature”. It was a lot about how to effectively talk to people about nature.
In going through the course, I realized that I’ve spent many years becoming a “naturalist”. Yes, people go off to school and earn degrees that allow official use of the term but it is really a state of the soul.
I don’t believe we need to “preserve the Earth”. I take global warming with a grain of salt. Yes, human causes may be contributing but we don’t know that for sure. The Earth has gone through many major transformations in the past without the “help” of humans. However, humans are considered by many to be the most intelligent species on Earth. So it seems like we should do what we can to support the others and the natural resources that we have. There has been tremendous progress made towards raising environmental awareness. Here are a few of the things I personally do:
- Recycle. Ok recycling systems on Maui may be a hoax but as I see it, it is far better to segment our trash into common like items than not. Yes, it is often not a fun job (try unpacking a house) but you are giving for a good purpose. Wherever possible, buy materials made of recycled materials.
- Compost. It’s my personal recycling system. I add food scraps, garden scraps, newspaper and water twice a week. The results are rich compost in 6 months. This compost is great for my plants. I also use it make compost tea which in turn cuts down on bugs and fungal diseases on plants.
- Drive an energy efficient vehicle. I bought a Toyota Prius and just love it. It drives just like any other nice Toyota and gets 40-45 miles per gallon. Along with not using as much fuel, the emissions on hybrids is extremely low.
- Go organic. Buy organic when feasible; supporting organizations that grow organic foods also sends a strong message to other growers. Or my favorite is to grow my own! Grow green things! Plant a tree. Don’t use herbicides and pesticides unless you really need to. If your pests are totally out of control, then use herbicides/pesticides exactly according to directions. Take the time to measure and don’t think that double the amount will get better results.
- Conserve water. Fresh water is a most precious resource. If it doesn’t fall out of your sky, you need to conserve it! Plant low water-use plants. Plan your landscaping such that plants with similar watering needs are together. Eliminate huge masses of grass if you need to sprinkle. Take shorter showers and/or install low flow fixtures. Think about how much water is going down the drain unneccesarily.
- Buy appliances that are energy-star rated. I bought a regular freezer on top refridgerator because is much more efficient to run than a side-by-side. Even if I have to open the door to get cold water or ice! ( I also get a nice cool breeze which is pleasant on a hot day).
- See my early article on STUFF. Don’t buy what you don’t need. Don’t buy things that have way too much packaging. It’s just wasteful.
- Be careful when dealing with hazardous material. Recycle computer parts and batteries whenever possible. Maui actually had a computer swap the other day where you could take your old computers and maybe find something you need. The equipment left would be put on a boat and returned to the mainland for processing. As I am painting the house, I am very aware of handling of paint. It used to be that paint was not considered hazardous. They have now found trace elements of something bad in our ground water that they attribute to people dumping paint down the drain. Yes, regular wash up with water, latex paint. Recommendations now is to rinse your paint supplies in 3 tubs of water; let the water sit so that the solids can sink and then drain the water onto a flat grassy area. My grass doesn’t seem to mind though the whole process is more tedious than rinsing in water; but I do use a lot less water! Paint solids (dried) are fine to throw away. Leftove paint should be taken to hazardous waste or set out to dry up before it is thrown out. Or recycle it putting it up on Freecycle or donating it to Habitat for Humanity.
Long list of things that I do every day. I’m sure there is more I can (and will do). I’ve signed up to help volunteer working at the beach where monk seals have landed to molt or raise their babies. A baby monk seal can not go out to sea in the first 6 weeks of life. If mom is scared away by interested tourists, baby will die.
So what is a charismatic mega-fauna? In Maui, there is a clear winner:
- It is very large.
- You can’t normally pet it. Keep your distance to 100 yards.
- People come to watch it and have a great chance of seeing more than one. Best viewing is on a boat but they’ve been known to cause accidents on the highway!
- It is endangered (though there has been talk of removing it)
- Of the estimated 7000 in the North Pacific; 5000 of them “vacation” in Maui in December-April.
- Males sing. Each year they sing a different song but they all know the same song whether they are in Japan, California or Maui. Females can sing but don’t.
- Guess it yet?