Monday, December 28, 2009

Conservation Attenuation

Attenuation is a wonderful word, it applies to a number of different fields, and has a litany of uses.

Attenuation in electronics is the reduction of signal strength due to destructive interference. Think of it as the overhead on a wire; the longer the wire, the more the signal is lost on the way to its destination.

Similar to the loss of signal strength in electronics, I found attenuation to be a great term to reflect what I watch occurring in the shark conservation world. There is so much bickering and infighting, so much concern on what the others are doing, that the message is getting lost. Too much time and energy is being spent micromanaging each other, looking through a microscope to try and find what someone else is doing wrong, that we lose the signal on what good is being done.

Attenuation in biology is to make thinner, weaker, less virulent. While the reasons behind it are complicated and can be attributed to so many different aspects, the fact of the matter is that attenuation is occurring to the shark populations throughout the world. The harvesting of our world’s shark is not being done at a sustainable pace, and the clock isn’t stopping for us to bicker among each other.

No one is going to be completely 100% on the same page as another, and this is not a bad thing. Innovation doesn’t occur when everyone is doing the same thing, with the same motives. It takes the collective innovation of many minds for solutions and answers to form out of the spray.

You can waste your time fighting about the differences between each of us, and focus on discrediting others’ methods, but what exactly does that do for the greater good? If you look past the differences, sweep the parts you don’t necessarily agree with out of your mind and instead focus on the strengths that each bring to the table, we can feed off each other for the betterment of the world.

Attenuation in oceanography is the dwindling of light through the water column to its gradual extinction at depth. I’m not even going to bother running the parallels I see with that definition. It’s a self fulfilling prophecy. However this prophecy is something we have control over, we can turn around, or stop. But it takes our collective minds to find the answers, since there won’t just be one simple epiphany; change will be needed from so many different places. We will need to tap into each one of our unique backgrounds and personal motivations, rather than focusing on discrediting each other; this is the only way we will be able to band together and form a united front for the benefit of all.



  1. GOOD POST!! the only important thing is the ocean and her creatures.. try arguing underwater,try yelling underwater.. its useless, we ALL need to live like the water is our life.. because it IS!

  2. And to twist this idea further, there is the application of attenuation specific to guitar amplifiers, where it's actually a net positive:
    getting the full, "saturated" tone out of a tube amp requires a sheer buttload of input signal; the way you get it is simple - turn way, way up; this is how distinctive tube amps achieve their distinctive tones. Unless you have your own soundproofed pro studio or simply live in the middle of nowhere, this presents obvious problems for the practicing/recording guitarist (etc.), so amp-attenuators were developed so you could shove all that gain through the tubes but with very quiet and usable outputs.
    In this manner I’m imagining that we can use socio-political attenuation to an advantage, by distilling the ideas and the personalities necessary to achieve concrete goals; by keeping the “noise” within the confines of impassioned debate within the conservation community, maybe, just maybe, the more specific usable ideas/elements can be drawn out to do good work.
    (E.g., I’m more of a Bond villain, who would rather sink boats, cut lines, break anthropocentric commerce laws, etc. in favor of protecting seemingly insignificant animals, but I have to defer to those deeper within the business and political communities, the Anthropocentrists, in order to make the small gains we need in changing the old destructive paradigms – as my personal desires would destroy any sympathy for the cause....)