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The big picture…

Tonight I thought I would give myself “equal time” to points of view that I will not hear vocalized by most large media firms and most companies. (In fact, I would have to spend *a lot more time* to equal the daily sensory bombardment by the “marketeers” of the world.) I watched the award-winning (winner of 23 international awards, including the Sundance World Cinema-Documentary Audience Award) documentary film, The Corporation, in its entirety after purchasing the film with birthday money and receiving the special edition 2-disk set in the mail today. Previously, I had seen only parts of the film broadcast on cable, which certainly did not help for continuity. The Web site given above is where I bought the film, and is interesting in part because you can specify (one of 5 links) where the profits of the purchase will go.

The 2003 Canadian documentary film, The Corporation, traces the history of the corporation as an entity, including the treatment of corporations as individuals. The film includes 40 corporate insiders and critics, including Michael MooreNoam ChomskyNaomi Klein, and Nobel Prize-winning economist Milton Friedman. I was especially impressed with statements made by Ray Anderson, the founder and chairman of  Interface, Inc., on the topic of environmental sustainability. The film touches on many events, including the cooperation of American corporations with the Nazis and Fascists during World War II, the privatization of water (including rainwater) in Bolivia and the popular revolt that ensued, the genetic manipulation of seed to prevent its reuse and to ensure that seed needs to be purchased again for the next growing season, and how the primary responsibility to stockholders can cause CEOs who are good human beings to reject their own impulses to do what is right in favor of what is profitable for stockholders. The film describes how corporations focus on short-term profits and externalize their costs (push the costs out to others, including “unaware or uncaring” consumers). The film also describes privatization in detail, including one man’s view that ownership of “everything” ensures that all will be managed well for the future. :-) Well, we have seen the track record so far. Michael Moore states that even though both he and his wife are from families of autoworkers in Flint, MI, most members of those families did not devote much time to thinking about the global impact of the automobiles that they were producing. Indeed, most of us do not think about the global impact of our actions, because we are too focused on survival and day-to-day living.

I was educated as a biologist and have worked for several corporations, one not-for-profit, a couple organizations that were quasi-governmental (because they maintained either databases or networks that are essential infrastructure and which had close relations with the government), and the organizations ranged from small to large. As a student in biological sciences, I once wrote a paper, for an Aquatic Microbiology course, on the topic of thermal effects in aquatic ecosystems. I now consider the experience to be “foreshadowing,” given that with global warming, we are attempting thermal pollution on a global scale. One of the learnings that has remained with me over the approximately 35 years since I wrote the paper is that *reproduction* was the most heat sensitive event in the life cycles of the aquatic organisms studied, and could be sensitive to an approximately 1 degree (C) change in temperature of the water. Perhaps coincidentally, but I am not a great believer in coincidence, I am midway into the fifth disk of the BBC series, “Planet Earth,” which is concerned with the future and with maintaining genetic diversity at a time when we humans are causing the rapid mass extinction of large numbers of species globally.

I saw a quote by Abraham Lincoln on a wall poster today – “The best thing about the future is that it only comes one day at a time.” This view helps to make the future more manageable, if we also have a long-term vision. As a biologist, as a photographer, and as a human being, I have a strong desire that the biological and physical systems of the world be around for the future. Tonight, the broad scope of the film, The Corporation, placed within the global biological context of BBC’s Planet Earth, provided my background for thoughts about the “big picture” and what I can do personally to help effect the needed change.

-Bill at Cheshire Cat Photo™

You can view higher-resolution photos (*generally* 7-30 megabytes, compressed) at the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Pro Gallery on Shutterfly™, where you can also order prints and gifts decorated with the photos of your choice from the gallery. Apparel and other gifts decorated with some of our most popular photos can be ordered from the Cheshire Cat Photo™ Store on CafePress®.  

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