We are obsessed with finding a simple solution to quickly fix a seemingly simple problem.

This is often what we do in our attempts to address environmental problems.

I’ve always naively thought that breeding wild salmon in hatcheries was one of those simple miracle solutions to preserve disappearing species. 

Wild salmons are fascinating creatures: the life of wild salmons starts and ends on the upper reaches of rivers. They migrate once downstream the rivers, live most of their life in the wildness of the ocean, and then swim once more upstream the rivers to reproduce and die. 

The building of dams on rivers blocks the passage of wild salmons when they try to swim upstream to spawn. The lifecycle of salmons is then broken and wild salmons are gradually getting extinct. 

So, we, humans, with the goal of preserving the fishing business, came out with the brilliant idea of developing hatcheries to man-made spawn and artificially breed baby fish. And when the fish are strong enough, the juvenile “wild salmon” are released back to the river. 

It sounds like a magical solution: we are just replacing one step of the lifecycle of wild salmon with the hope to solve the problem. The documentary produced by Patagonia titled “Artifishal” tells a totally different story on the hatchery approach. 

This is an excellent documentary so I will not ruin your delight of discovering the narrative of the film, but the point made is that hatchery practice is in fact, accelerating the extinction of wild salmon.   

My big learning from this film and from the wild salmon issue is that there will probably never be simple solutions to address environmental problems created by us, humans. 

It took Mother Nature millions of years in unimaginable layers of complexities to create the world we’ve been living in. We will probably not be able to outsmart Mother Nature with quick fixes.

So in every decision we make for our business, we need to look beyond the surface and consider thoroughly the collateral impacts, in space and time. 

We will probably not create a dramatic and instant change, but we must do our share and in doing so, we will certainly inspire others to do their own share.     

“Life diversifies in order to survive. 

And humans do the opposite, we simplify in order to make things easier for ourselves. 

And by imposing simplification on a world that is taking millions of years to so wondrously diversify is a violent act on life itself” 

Carl Safina, Ecologist and Author

obsession with quick fix to solve environment problem

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