By Garrick Hoffman, Liberal Arts Major
In the HUB gymnasium at SMCC, students, faculty, and staff alike sat and listened to words of environmental degradation and the grave frivolousness of man, but they also got a taste of hope.
The illustrious author and journalist Colin Woodard, a George Polk Award recipient, has written four books with historic and oceanic themes, one of which focuses on the Maine waters (The Lobster Coast). His book The Republic of Pirates is a New York Times bestseller, and went on to be the basis for 2014 NBC drama “Crossbones”.
Woodard is and has been a correspondent for a plurality of news publications, including the Portland Press Herald and Maine Sunday Telegram, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Economist, to name a few. He also served as a historical consultant for the popular video game Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag, which was set in the same time period as The Republic of Pirates.
Courtesy of Hydrate Humanity and the SMCC Student Senate, the venerable author stood before a sizeable and eager audience on Thursday, November 19 in the HUB gymnasium after book signings for a lecture. Woodard spoke about his past as a student, his life reporting in foreign countries such as Hungary and Croatia, and what he saw in these places.
Titled “Ocean’s End: The Crisis in the World’s Oceans,” the lecture lasted about an hour until Woodard fielded questions from the audience, which were abundant. While Woodard illustrated the grim state of environmental pollution around the world and how it’s affected both man and the ecosystem. One part was particularly stark, as he described riding down a stone bridge while reporting abroad and being required to hold his breath due to a complete lack of oxygen due to severe air pollution.
Woodard also condemned the pervasive denial of climate change, saying the perpetrators behind this may be “willfully ignorant” and are certainly doing an enormous civil “disservice” to America and the world. He said in light of overwhelmingly abundant evidence, there is no margin for rejecting climate change, and that the effects and threats of it are present and palpable.
Despite the facts, Woodard said he feels more optimistic for the future regarding environmental conditions that we do and will face, contrary to how he’s felt in the past.
For the audience, who is surely exposed to bleak news stories about the environment and considered everything Woodard lecture about, this was at least a trifle reassuring.