Sure, most people can agree that the environment is changing. We see commercials about disappearing species. We hear in the news about global warming. Most people can even agree that these things are bad. But why should we care? What do these events have to do with us? What makes us want to take action against this course of events?
Earlier this semester, Dr. Patrick McMillan told a riveting story about how everything in the world has some connection to our lives through his lecture, “Failure to Communicate: Reclaiming Our Place in the World.” He showed a captivated audience how the river quality in the mountains of Chile is important to South Carolina’s migrating shorebirds, and how the death of a humpback whale ultimately affects the rate of growth of trees in an inland forest, which affects salmon populations.
The specifics of the ecological connections are not what I want to share with you today. Again, you will ask, “Why do I care?” What I do want to share is McMillan’s message: We as a society are losing our connection and understanding of the world. In order to rebuild this connection, we need to get outside and experience the world.
“We can’t begin to care for, appreciate or understand the world without experiencing the world,” McMillan explains. We as a group need to get excited!
It is hard to sit in one of McMillan’s lectures and not feel compassion for the natural world. As he took the stage, he was exploding with enthusiasm as he told the audience that he wants to take us on an “expedition.”
McMillan also hosts/produces a nature show entitled “Expeditions with Patrick McMillan.” The third season aired March 29 on South Carolina’s ETV. You can catch new episodes on Sundays at 7:30 p.m.
You can feel his awe and excitement as he shares stories about his work. He's like a little boy turning over the rock in his mom’s garden for the first time to discover a whole other world of fascinating creatures. With wide eyes, he says in almost a whisper, “Who knew?”
One of the most important aspects of a successful effort to save our environment is instilling this level of enthusiasm in each of us. Instead of beating society down with all that is going wrong, let’s show each other what is amazing about our environment. Let’s share our own passion and invite others to experience the wonder!
It doesn't matter if we experience the world and its natural wonders first-hand or through a great storyteller like McMillan. The secret is getting the experience any way we can.
In his introduction of McMillan, Biological Sciences department Chairman Dr. Hap Wheeler referred to McMillan as the “ultimate communicator of nature.” We all need to be communicators of nature in a sense.
Scientists can tell people endlessly that the world is being destroyed because of our negative environmental impacts, but people aren’t going to change unless they see why. They need to find out for themselves why the environment is worth going out of our way to protect.
Before we can solve the problems that are “hitting us square in the face,” as McMillan said, we have to come together, get past the controversies, and share our passion!
Get a taste of the third season of "Expeditions":
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