My friend Eric has a theory about human emotional development. He reckons we all reach a particular age, and development stops there, so even though our chronological age increases year by year, a part of us remains forever fourteen years old (or whatever).

Generally I’m rather sceptical about the theory, but it struck me during a thoughtful moment recently that collectively we humans seem to be stuck somewhere in early adolescence when it comes to the environment.

Part of the process of adolescence is to push the envelope, find out what you’re capable of – and what you can get away with. And often the only way to find out how far you can go – is to go too far.

And maybe, as humans, we have pushed it too far, without really thinking through the consequences. We seem to have got rather carried away with our ability to conquer nature through science and technology – genetic modification, pesticides, the automobile, and so on. And now that the side-effects of our “progress” are starting to become apparent, we are reacting in a less than mature way.

What does your typical teenager do when they realize they have done something wrong? And is it any different from our response as a species? Continuing with the example of climate change.

Denial: It wasn’t me, I didn’t do it. (“We can find no link between human activity and global warming.”)

Or belittling the significance of the damage: It was a stupid vase anyway. (“Great! Warmer summers! What’s the problem?”)

Or blaming somebody else: They started it. (“We’re not going to sign this treaty if you won’t.”)

Whereas in fact the more mature response would be to accept responsibility for our actions and their consequences, and figure out how to limit the damage before it gets any worse.

Idealistic? Maybe. But I for one find it embarrassing that we are not responding in a more mature way to the biggest crisis we have ever faced. It is time we stopped behaving like spoiled adolescents and faced up to our responsibilities towards the planet. Or history will not be impressed.

That’s my environmental rant for the day!

Other stuff:

Conditions still calm and reasonably pleasant for rowing. A good day at the oars. I was listening to the audiobook of “Seabiscuit” about the racing horse, which led to some faster-than-usual paddling during the nail-biting race scenes!

Hello and thanks to all who are sharing my adventures via the blog or podcast. Especially big welcomes to the newbies..

To Aly Roland in Alabama, a 3rd-grader who is being homeschooled. Aly, you go faster in your kayak than I do in my rowboat – well done! I dream of doing 3 miles per hour. but I suspect my boat is a lot heavier than yours. Mine weighs about 2000 lb. I don’t usually wear a lifejacket (although I think maybe you should) but I do wear a harness if it gets rough, and clip myself onto the boat. And I haven’t seen any sharks yet – and if I do, I just hope that if I leave them alone, they will leave me alone too!


I hear from my friends at the Blue Project that lots of people are signing up with Blue Pledges, including a growing number of Americans. Thank you!!

If you haven’t yet done so, please go to and click on the Make a BLUE Pledge button.


Position Thursday evening: 28 47 76N, 126 37 41W
Nautical miles done yesterday: 21.34

Click here to see Day 40 of the Atlantic crossing January 2006.

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