Love Your Island


Welcome to the first Love Your Island column. My father had always aspired to be a "newspaper" man so I hope he's looking down and smiling.

At the same time I accepted the position at the Key West Chamber of Commerce as Chairman of the Beautification Committee, I had the opportunity to see Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth. The movie touched me, like it did many others as evidenced by Al Gore's Oscar and Nobel Peace Prize. Since the release of the movie, there has been enormous debate on certain parts of the movie that may have been overstated, if not overtly incorrect. On the other hand, many of the things Mr. Gore touched upon are even worse than he portrayed in the movie. My feeling is, SO WHAT? The fact that people started thinking was, in my opinion, the most important result.

For me, and many others like me, I started thinking about my own personal relationship with the environment and the fact that all of us are connected by that same environment. While seeking a theme for how I might be able to share this insight with others, I found myself staring at the picture of the earth taken from space. It suddenly struck me that the earth is, in its own way, an island in space just as we are an island at sea and hence the name, Love Your Island. A speaking program was developed based on this theme and what I began to find out not only confirmed my suspicions but deepened my concerns.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution we consumed what is commonly known as current solar energy, which is to say the crops and animal protein that were grown that year as well as the use of first growth forest for building materials and fuel. The problem is today, we are using up our store of energy resources at a much faster pace. It has taken us 125 years to consume the first trillion barrels of oil. It will take us 30 to consume the next trillion! One can also see a parallel and consistent growth, during this same period, of population from less than a billion to 3 billion by 1930 and almost 6½ billion today with projections that the population will double in the next 40 years! If there was ever a clear indication that we are out of sync with our natural environment, this is it.

If nothing else, I hope you will find this column thought provoking, compelling and even alarming. It will not be "preachy" because, in taking on this journey of self awareness I have come to realize that for much of my life I have been part of the problem, not the solution. If Mr. Gore's movie has caused me to THINK, it has also caused me to start to ACT and do what I can, however small or grand. It has also made me aware that I need to DEMAND, first of myself, then the people with whom I do business and finally of the government I have elected to do more in this regard. To do anything less is to deny my personal responsibility for the future of my children and grandchildren.

This society, at this time, is at a fork in the road, a tipping point, if you will. If we act, there is still time to make a significant contribution to the well being of those who will follow us. If we do not act, we will be judged accordingly as the ones who could have made a difference but chose not to.

In preparing the presentation of the Love Your Island program and in preparation for this column, the enormity of the material and the description of the consequences, both present and certainly future, began to overwhelm, frustrate and, in fact, demoralize me. In short, I reached my own tipping point and what I am about to say is what I hope some of you who take the time to read this column will be encouraged to do yourselves. I told myself, "Alone, I can't change much of anything. But I can change something. Together, with others, we can change everything."

My hope is that this column will be a part of the growing call to action and aspiration to a higher standard to protect the only island we have ... earth.

Next column: Our journey begins with the shortest poem ever written.

About the author: Chris Belland is Co-Chair of the Key West Chamber of Commerce Love Your Island program. He is also the CEO of Trusted Tours and Attractions. Trusted Tours and Attractions promotes and sells discount tour tickets in over 30 cities throughout the United States.


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