Today we feature William Beck in the IWIC Hall of Fame. William is taking his inspiration to another level. He not only weaves environmental threads into the themes of his books, spotlighting issues which are critical to all of us – but he also works at making changes in the world. Here is his story.
IWIC: In your book, Crosscurrents, there is a strong thematic message about addressing environmental issues in our world – why is this important for you personally?
William: I make it a point to stress noteworthy environmental causes in all my Bryson McGann novels, and the National Earth Seas Science Agency (NESSA) is the means by which those issues are brought to the forefront. I have tackled a bevy of topics; weather modification, slaughtering of sharks for their fins, creating coral reefs, energy technology using ocean wave power, over-harvesting of fisheries, and much more. I will continue to do so in future Bryson McGann thrillers. The reason for doing this is simple. Shedding light on real life topics people know little or nothing about can be the spark to ignite the fires of curiosity and hopefully begin discussions. Change comes about through dialogue and education is key. If I can use a thrilling adventure tale as the catalyst for that mechanism, then I have accomplished my mission on two fronts.
We have to come to terms with many environmental concerns facing us today. Allowing people or political parties of either side to influence the public in a negative manner is an unworthy attribute. These crucial matters call for sensibility and a willingness to work together in developing reasonable solutions or at least taking initial strides to amend past shortcomings. My parents instilled a strong sense of respect for people and the place we call home, planet Earth. There is nowhere else for us to go, so it is vitally important we care for this planet. It is our responsibility to find a way to strike a balance between growth and sustainability if we are to continue as a species. The stressors placed upon the land and oceans continue to mount. Unfortunately, following many of the current avenues does not equivocate with sensible stewardship. It is up to all of us to be the implementers of positive change for the benefit of future generations.
IWIC: According to your bio, you have traveled considerably and you have engaged in scuba-diving around the world, from this, what did you observe and what prompted you to become concerned about the negative impact we are having on the planet?
William: Nearly seventy-five percent of this planet is covered with water and we have explored only five percent of its vast expanse. More men have been to the moon than to the deepest spot in the ocean, the Mariana Trench. I remember watching a program with Jacques Cousteau many years ago. He was sailing across the Atlantic on a crystalline blue sea. It was breathtaking. It cut to a scene where he reached down in the water and pulled out a plastic water bottle and several globs of thick tarry oil. His dire warning at that time of not caring for the oceans hammered home a somber message. Not long after that I took my first plunge beneath the waves to explore its many mysteries. Some years ago I was shocked and dismayed to see the destruction of coral reefs in the Florida Keys. Effluent and fertilizers, man-made destruction from boat anchors and errant diver’s actions, left vast patches of dead or irreparably harmed coral beds on the sea floor. The bleached skeletons of once thriving coral heads was a sobering sight to behold along with its impact on once vibrant sea life. Currently, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia is experiencing a rapid decline due to a slight rise in ocean temperatures. Algae blooms along the Gulf of Mexico’s coast cause massive destruction of fish life and potential harm to swimmers. These are just a few examples with potentially devastating effects for life above and below the surface of the sea. The oceans and life held within are a surreal realm. If you have never spent time enveloped in its beauty, it is difficult to explain what lies within its depths. Great whales to the tiniest organisms call the oceans their home. After I took up underwater photography, I discovered another microcosm in the sea. Photographing corals and the smallest of creatures living upon them opened my eyes even more to the importance of sustaining our oceans. All of the creatures living there are dependent on those waters to survive and so do we. It is my belief many people fail to understand the relationship between the two.
IWIC: Have you been engaged in any activities to reduce man’s environmental impact on the ecological balance?
William: Over the years, I have financially supported numerous reputable environmental causes, and I encourage others to do so. It doesn’t take much. Give up one of those expensive coffee drinks a day and in a month you have maybe ten to fifteen dollars. Some may think what good can that small amount do? It can do an enormous amount, especially if thousands of people make that small sacrifice. Recycling is another way people can make a profound impact and it costs nothing. I have worked as an assistant instructor for scuba classes and always stressed the vital importance of safeguarding our environment, whether land based or ocean habitats. I have spoken to groups over the years as an advocate for our natural resources. The idea of sensible conservation is a passionate subject to me as a scuba diver and person who enjoys hiking and other outdoor activities. If you have not taken the time to walk through a forest, hike in the mountains, or explore the ocean depths, make the time. Get involved. It will impact your life.
IWIC: What do you hope to accomplish through all your books and any activities you are personally engaged in, with regards to reducing or changing the destructive consequences caused by inattention or destruction of the planet’s resources?
William: My goal of writing about environmental topics within my stories is to enlighten readers, allowing them an opportunity to consider and research those issues. As I mentioned, we do have to be reasonable in our approach in finding successful solutions. Around the world, forests, mountains, and rivers are challenged daily with an onslaught of concerns. We need these resources to sustain us. Turning a blind eye to that need or irresponsibly destroying them is in no one’s best interest. A concerted effort to safeguard those precious commodities and use those resources in a conscientious manner is imperative.
There are many progressive organizations and initiatives taking place around the globe making a substantial difference. I am an optimist. I believe we will do more to produce conducive outcomes in sustaining our seas and land resources. It is imperative our grandchildren and future generations are able to experience what I have seen in my lifetime and enjoy all of nature’s grandeur. These are precious gifts we must leave for them. I will continue to be a promoter for change in addressing issues and supporting environmental organizations whose goals include advocating responsible use, educating, protecting, and bringing about positive benefits for the betterment of humanity and the planet.