To those of you who may not be familiar, Thor Heyerdahl was an adventurer and Ethnographer, whose studies of the Ocean, ancient cultures and anthropology stimulated considerable interest among the public from the late 1940s until his death in 2002. His landmark adventure, the Kon-Tiki Expedition in 1947, in which he sailed a hand-built raft some 8,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean, demonstrated that ancient peoples had the ability and could have made long-distance sea voyages and create contacts between cultures.
His studies of the Sea and frequent expeditions, not only gave a better understanding of the Sea and its inhabitants, but it also pointed out to the fragile nature of our planet and how much an integral part the oceans are in sustaining life as we know it.
The lecture he gave at the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Environment was considered a landmark in the study of the ocean in relation to our environment, and served as an educational tool to those attending. This recording furnished by the CBC Transcription service was intended to spread that word to as many people as possible:
Thor Heyerdahl: “Even though it is extremely important to put an immediate end to the deliberate ocean dumping, this is only part of the problem. By far the greatest quantity of toxic refuse constantly reaches the sea in a much less spectacular way from agricultural fields and urban industrial sewers.
To visualize the immense quantities of solid and dissolved waste and fluid chemicals of all kinds which every minute flow into the ocean from the shores of all continents, we should imagine the ocean without water, as a big, empty depression. The fact that every river in the world empties into the sea without causing overflow makes us subconsciously think of the ocean as a witch’s cauldron whose contacts never come over to the brim, no matter how much is poured in. We are apt to forget that the ocean has its own sort of outlet; the evaporation from its surface which permits only pure water to escape while all our poisons, all our solid and dissolved wastes, are left to accumulate forever in the pot.”
Here is the complete lecture, as it was given in Stockholm in June of 1972.
Just as a reminder we’re on fragile ground and always have been – and that ignorance is deadly, especially when ignorance is put in the wrong hands.