VIEWPOINT: A nature adventure from a comfortable lazy chair
So far away from the Coral Triangle and from the subjects of Frans Lanting's stunning nature photographs, in the centre of Amsterdam, I was surprised to be so moved by the beauty and drama displayed on this huge screen. The musical composition by Philip Glass, conducted by Carolyn Kuan, an elegant and very powerful director, of course helped a great deal the flow of images as they moved in different patterns across the screen and faded in and out of focus.
This seemed to be the perfect match for the different "acts" performed by the Amsterdam Concert Hall Residential Orchestra, but then again, the Dutch public is very critical and one could say, "spoiled", with so many world class performances coming to the country year around. Furthermore, TV documentaries on regular broadcast networks and dedicated nature channels are on every day of the year.
So, how come so many people came out still so mesmerized?
I am not sure what the answer is, but it gave me great hope for the future of our work. In Europe and other parts of the world where a lot of the wilderness has been seemingly "tamed" by humans, and where societies try to retain a manageable working and living environment with more or less success, there still is the willingness to be moved by something beautiful, something wild and unknown.
There is a curiosity to be surprised and to learn things about the natural world that one never knew, and that gives food for thought. While it is extremely special to walk through a tropical forest or dive on a healthy coral reef, it seems not to be a pre-requisite to "have been there" in order feel some need to care for that forest or reef.
Now, sitting in a fancy hotel in a Jakarta mall while typing this, and looking across a roundabout saturated with hundreds of vehicles, I hope that increasingly more people in large Asian cities will also allow themselves to be surprised and awed about their nature in the Coral Triangle, as here it is not too late to save it. I do hope that our work will get more supporters, and more people will stand up and take some type of action to ensure that the wilderness in the Coral Triangle will not become as tamed as it now in my home country, the Netherlands.