Taking the First Steps

Hello readers, and welcome to a Quill of Conservation. I’m Kim, a writer by trade and a nature-lover at heart. The natural world always fascinated me, whether searching for worms, crickets, and roly-polies under rocks in my grandparents’ yard, catching craw-dads in the creek when we visited family in the mountains, looking for tracks in the woods where my father hunted, or combing the beach for sand-dollars with my mother when we vacationed by the sea. More than anything, that girl wanted to be a marine biologist.

Fast forward a few decades: I’m not a scientist. With a graduate degree in literature and a steady, fairly lucrative office job loosely related to my field of study, I’m better off than many of my millennial peers. I’m grateful to be as fortunate as I am but, as I’ve headed down my comfortable path, I’ve harbored a growing feeling that I’ve let that inquisitive girl with torn jeans and dirty fingernails down.

After the American presidential inauguration last year, those feelings came to a head. Millions of people across the world took to the streets in protest to raise awareness for the social and environmental causes that are suffering under the current administration. The largest by far was the Women’s March, but the one that affected me most deeply was the March for Science, which I attended in Ottawa.

Amid a crowd of people with their badges and lab coats, I began to feel the weight of the assumptions and decisions that have taken me so far from my childhood goals—the decision to study English instead of biology, the decision to take a well-paying job after grad school instead of switching tracks, and the assumption that with or without my help beyond recycling, eating organic, and taking public transit, the wild places I love, the dunes, the forests, the reefs, and the marshes, as well as the creatures who inhabit them, would always be there.

However, as Jeremy Kerr of the University of Ottawa mentioned during his speech before Parliament Hill at the March For Science last spring, the planet’s alarm bells are tolling: in 2016, unprecedented coral bleaching events occurred in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and around the world. As posited in the Netflix documentary, Chasing Coral, without action on climate change, all coral reef systems are likely to bleach and die by 2050. The bells are tolling; however, we are facing a time of “alternative facts,” defunding of scientific research projects, elimination of environmental protection regulations, and scaling back of protected areas of land and water.

I may not be a scientist, but the fight to ensure that our future generations have a habitable planet can’t just be shouldered by the scientific community. Not if we hope to succeed in time to preserve the incredible ecosystems so many people take for granted.

Despite the impassioned urge to join the fray, I’m unable to mount a formal academic study at this point, which is why I’ve chosen to create A Quill of Conservation. I will be reading, watching, and listening my way through the plethora of information on marine science, forest ecology, and environmental conservation available in print and online and sharing what I learn along the way. Ultimately, I hope to find a practical approach toward environmental conservation that will help other non-scientists to understand what is happening in the world of conservation, why it matters to those of us outside the scientific community, and what we can all do to help.

Thanks for joining me in the first steps in documenting what I hope can be lifelong journey toward a better future for us all.

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