A Moment for the Millennium

By Al Hornsby

After months of reading "Millennium" magazine articles, millennium this, millennium that, I made myself a promise that Skin Diver would not jump on that particular bandwagon. It is certainly a notable time, but it really doesn't have a hell of a lot to do, in a real sense, with why we all read dive magazines.

After thinking about it quite a bit, however, I realized that there is an issue that deserves thought relative to the millennium. That's because most of us find the New Year to be a time to look back, do some self-reflection and, usually, to come up with a few pledges-resolutions-to ourselves to do better and to be better in the days ahead. I imagine that this millennial New Year may turn out to be the king when it comes to resolutions being made; after all, it isn't just another New Year, but a uniquely special one. And for divers, the one issue too important to be ignored, when it comes to looking back and then committing ourselves to the future, is a profound one-it's the marine environment.

A couple of months ago, we asked Dr. Sylvia Earle and Jean-Michel Cousteau, the most well-known, highly respected marine environmentalists of our time, to talk with us about our water planet. In a fascinating, several hour conversation, they shared their knowledge and experiences, and gave us a chilling look at the changes that have occurred to our world's oceans over the last century and the plight of the creatures that live there. They also talked in impassioned detail about what could be in store in the times ahead; and laid out their shared vision of an army of aware, educated people working together to bring about social and political changes, the changes necessary to save a world currently, in many ways, under siege and losing the battle.

That's where we divers come in. We're that army they envision. We're the enlightened people, perhaps the only ones who can truly understand the wonder of the oceans and what's happening there, because, day by day, we see it with our own eyes.

When you read the account of our meeting ("Millennium-The Environment: A Look Behind, A Look Ahead," pages 49-53), I have little doubt that you will be every bit as moved and as motivated as we were by the powerful things they had to say. As we all make our New Year's resolutions here at the beginning of the new millennium, my personal hope is that Sylvia and Jean-Michel will help us each decide to add "help the planet" to the very top of the list. Can we really afford to simply hope that someone else will?

Happy Millennium.