Comfortably Numb

Its not often that you get a moment of crystal clarity in life. Those moments are hard to come by and if one isn’t really looking they tend to slip past. We do catch a glimpse in our peripheral vision but like everything else we chose to ignore it. In class today we discussed about ballast water management. Its being talked about for quite some time now and we all knew it would eventually come into force with stringent legislations and checks and add to the headache of an already stressed and over stretched marine engineer. But none the less, it is deemed a serious hazard and ecologists everywhere have considered it an imminent threat. times were simpler a few decades ago im told. I wouldn’t really know, coz im still learning the ways of the world.


Ships need to take in ballast water for various reasons, mostly stability and weight distribution. No rocket science here. Place unequal weights and anything sustaining it will deform under stress over time. That becomes a serious concern when you’re on a ship deep in the ocean. To begin with, ballast water is inevitable. Various ports have various loading plans and everytime the ship’s ballast needs to be adjusted accordingly. Water needs to be taken in or pumped out. A recent study showed that ships tend to pick up organisms from one place and discharge them into another. A microbe that was completely docile in one ecosystem turned into a predator in another and wiped out entire species of fish. The facts and figures are available online, Wikipedia can help you there. Makes you wonder how we take our lives for granted. Worry about needless things and introduce pointless drama into our lives when something far more devastating can happen. Ballast water contamination has led to a serious paradigm shift in marine ecological systems; all unknowingly. I wonder what else are we doing unknowingly. Could be anything. The effects don’t turn up until its too late anyway.


Ive spent some time on land this time around and I guess things work differently here. Or maybe all that time at sea has changed me, changed my perspective towards life. Often the only source of joy after a long hard day is the sight of a dolphin jumping out of the water in front of a setting sun. But here on land its different. You would think the bigger picture would be clearer but sadly it isn’t. I had to resort to writing about this coz no one was interested enough to listen to me, and even if they had heard no one would’ve appreciated the gravity of the situation. In the words of Pink Floyd, we’ve become ‘comfortably numb’. Nothing really affects us anymore. Ecosystems and entire species of fish are being wiped out and we sit here completely oblivious to the gradual and inevitable demise of our planet. Pushing it further into a state of toxicity, to a point where the very air that we breathe turns to acid.


It’s going to be added work on the ship I know and this plant is going to be the 2nd engineer’s baby. But if I can do my part to save something, or do anything that’ll benefit the planet, I’d stay up nights doing it. Its funny coz exactly a year ago I remember wishing for the Mayan apocalypse to strike, but now I feel my will to live return. I’m not done just yet. There’s a lot more that needs doing….


3 thoughts on “Comfortably Numb

  1. Arjun, loved this post… I knew ships had water ballast but had never thought of how organisms could be spread via the empting of tanks from one location to another…
    Yes I agree we have become numb.. Numb to the facts of how pollution is affecting our Oceans. And how it will work its way up through the food chain.. For one species affects another as we are all interwoven in the chain of life..Each one interdependent upon each other…
    I am so pleased one year on Arjun your world has turned around… And thank you for caring enough to write about it..
    We are ONE all of us… And many DO care…. but still bury their heads… I know you will always do what is right within your scope as you sail the Ocean my friend and as you walk your Earth walk

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