Where in the West is Mark Spitzer?

Mark Spitzer loves fish and he loves to fish. As a nationally known author (Seasons of the Gar, Return of the Gar), writing about fish and their issues is what he does best. In this blog series, Spitzer shares his experiences traveling the American West while researching a select number of freshwater fish that are often considered monstrous or freaky or hideously grotesque. Don’t miss the full version of this incredible tale, which can be found in Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American Westnow available!  


Earth Day, Edition 2018

In the conclusion of Beautifully Grotesque Fish of the American West, I make the point that we need imagination to save our fisheries and ourselves, and we need it fast. I note that we are a nation of creative thinkers, and I look at our history of innovation in pushing westward to create the most industrious country in the world. Then I recommend that we apply that pioneering spirit to iron fertilization, mariculture, algae-based fuels, constructing a thousand square miles of solar panels in the dessert Southwest to power the entire United States (because we can), and other highly studied ideas that can be implemented right freaking now.

In the meantime, some other solutions have occurred to me because they occurred to others first. Recycling carbon dioxide is the most promising concept on the block. As the Carbon XPRIZE website states, “The $20M NRG COSIA Carbon XPRIZE will challenge the world to reimagine what we can do with CO2 emissions by incentivizing and accelerating the development of technologies that convert CO2 into valuable products. These technologies have the potential to transform how the world approaches CO2 mitigation, and reduce the cost of managing CO2”—which is the driving factor behind greenhouse gases causing global warming. Brilliant! I mean, why not use CO2 to make shoes and food and geothermal energy? Plus, carbon upcycling technologies have already “shown significant functional performance in concrete, plastics, ceramic and epoxy coatings, 3D-printing filaments, drug delivery, super lubrication, energy storage, asphalt, and solar cell applications”—so let’s get cracking on that.

Then there’s Global Fishing Watch, launched in 2016. Basically, researchers have been attaching GPS devices to albatrosses in order to track illegal fishing vessels. Global Fishing Watch’s mission is “to protect the world’s fisheries, which are an important source of protein for almost half of the people on the planet and yet, we have allowed them to be decimated by overfishing.” In this sense, the albatross is no burden to anyone, except those who seek to exploit our fisheries.

And get this: Even Walmart is being a good corporate citizen these days—at least in terms of cutting down on emissions. In April, “Walmart announced that suppliers have reported reducing more than 20 million metric tons (MMT) of greenhouse gas emissions in the global value chain, as part of the company’s Project Gigaton initiative.” In fact, ol’ Wally World even unveiled a plan to expand electrical vehicle charging stations and double the use of wind and solar technologies. Why? Because there’s money to be made in “going green.”

bloody bowfinSo why am I showing off this bloody bowfin? Because these still-existing fossil fish have been around the longest, so technically they have the most to lose. Human genetics have only been around for 3.2 million years (i.e. Olduvai Gorge), but these bad-asses have been around for 150 to 200 million revolutions of the sun. In other words, since they were here first, wouldn’t we be jackasses to believe that we have more of a right to abuse this planet than a bone-headed, eel-finned, air-breathing grotesque that provides ecosystem balance when we sure as hell don’t?

It’s something to think about….

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