My life has always been connected to nature -- from the banks of the River Boyne in southern Ireland where I grew up as a child, to the shorelines of California and Hawaii where I reside with my wife Keely and our sons. Between these two worlds and an ocean of time spent traveling the world as a working actor, I have seen the beauty of what man can achieve on this earth and also what can happen when he lets nature slip through his fingers.
Last evening I was at the World Bank where we saw excerpts from National Geographic’s soon-to-be aired global programming event, “Great Migrations”, that show just how fragile the lives of some of the great animals of our world are today. The majestic African elephant, or the fleet wildebeest, are confronted with obstacles in their daily existence that threatens their very continuation as a species. As we expand our human footprint across the planet, we have paved over their breeding grounds, plowed under their grazing areas, depleted their sources of water, and disrupted their historic migratory routes.
Climate change is adding to the immense dangers facing bio-diversity. In my native Ireland, at least eight species of birds, such as the gray partridge, face extinction, due to the loss of habitat, reduction in food supplies, poisonings from pesticides, and wide scale development. In my adopted home, here in the United States, the Grey Whales that migrate north and south just off our California coast have survived since the ice age. Yet, these whales face more threats today than ever before from ship strikes, loss of habitat, pollution, and other human activities. Climate change is destroying the food chain they need to survive.