I first came into contact with Erik Brush through MySpace due to our shared concern for the welfare and conservation of sharks. As well as being an accomplished and sought-after artist, Erik is the author of a recently published book which should make the hair stand up on the back of your neck. In it he describes how sharks are vital for the planet; moreover, without them, we will soon witness the "Sixth Extinction".
Q. You were born in the US but lived in Europe for several years as a child. How do you think this has affected your outlook on the world, especially with regard to your art and your work for our home planet Earth? Do you feel more at home in the US or in Europe?
A. I was quite fortunate to grow up in Europe because it gave me a much broader view of the world. I think that many Americans have a geographically narrow view of the world and as a consequence are less empathetic and less interested in things that are not immediately affecting them.
I get the "grass is greener" syndrome depending on where I live. When I am in the US I miss Europe and when I am in Europe I miss the states. But I like the discussions and cultural richness of Europe far more than America as I find Europeans better informed and more worldly.
Q. You have created works of art for some very high profile individuals, such as Oprah Winfrey and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. I know it is very difficult for artists to get known at any level at all. How did you succeed in capturing such high profile attention without being known very much by the general public?
A. This was an idea that came to me during a Mastermind session. I was taking a life success course with Bob Proctor. Bob is a teacher and philosopher best known for his role in the movie, “The Secret”. I was trying to figure out how to market artwork and art jewelry in a market in which the economy was getting worse. A man named Harv T. Eker had suggested this to me earlier and it came up in the group session that I should write to some celebrities that I admired and express my gratitude for the things that they had done which had positively influenced my life.
I contacted a few folks and sent them not only letters but also artwork as gifts. From there my contact base grew and gradually I met more and more celebrities. Her Majesty Queen Margrethe II of Denmark is someone who my family had known and that is how I wound up doing jewelry for her. Also I soon discovered that many celebrities are committed to the same conservation causes and issues that I am, which has added to my good fortune in meeting so many wonderful folks.
Q. You have recently published a book called "The Sixth Extinction", which ties the future of the planet to the future of sharks. Please explain the basic premise of the book.
A. I think Duncan that it is best explained in a listed break down that is at the end of chapter 2. I will show it here for your visitors and readers.
1). Sharks and Cetaceans consume small fish and crustaceans.
2). Small fish and crustaceans consume phytoplankton, algae, and green plants.
3). Phytoplankton, algae, and green plants absorb CO2 ( Carbon Dioxide ) and produce O2 ( Oxygen ).
4). We require oxygen to breath just as plants breath in carbon dioxide.
5). As sharks and cetaceans populations decrease, their prey species increase annually.
6). The prey of these animals consumes the springtime bloom of phytoplankton, as well as algae, and green plants.
7). Instead of the 73 million metric tons of phytoplankton dying off in 6-8 months as it naturally does, it is reduced and dies off more swiftly due to consumption.
8). Global oxygen levels steadily decrease each year. Carbon gas increases causing global warming and acidification of the oceans.
9). Ocean acidification kills off coral reefs and the reef eco-systems around the world collapse.
10). CO2 also builds up to create the greenhouse affect causing the planets climate to warm up and affecting the weather patterns across the globe.
11). Global warming melts the polar ice. On land situated glaciers this meltdown releases trapped methane gas as well as increasing sea levels.
12). Increasing sea levels submerge low lying land areas creating reduced land mass, death, and coastal as well as island refugees. These crowd inland or need to find new areas to live creating social, economic, and political turmoil and conflict.
13). Warming sea temperatures also revert methane-hydrate tracts in the polar seas from liquid to gas causing methane to flood the atmosphere.
14). Methane destroys our ozone layer within a very short span and the planet looses it’s protection from ultruviolet radiation produced by the sun.
15). Without protection for the UV radiation all land plants die within weeks. No exceptions.
16). UV radiation creates a death zone for exposed animals as well as killing off the plants.
17). The atmosphere of our once balanced planet now becomes toxic and unbreathable.
18). Starvation, Radiation, and lack of breathable atmosphere kill off a majority of species including humanity.
19). Only self sustaining isolated pockets of subterranian life, and deeper or unique marine life survive the next 156-164 thousand years while the planet slowly produces a new ozone layer.
20). Millions of years from now and after a long evolutionary process, new life forms enjoy the planet, and its new evolution of flora as the planet re-greens itself and returns to health. Missing from this picture are 87-93% of the former inhabitants including humans.
Q. Do you think we have a realistic chance of escaping total ecological disaster and the extinction of most of the life on the planet?
A. I absolutely do! We have a time table ( roughly ) in which there is a “self healing” ability of nature to correct the problem. The problem is not a simple matter to address since it entails not just protecting sharks and cetaceans, but also curbing and controlling over-fishing, pollution, and unregulated destructive activities that generate greenhouse gases and toxins.
But we cannot waste time or sit idle. There has to be a concerted effort around the world. We must stop the destructive practices as well as changing the ideas of consumers around the world. There is about 20 years until what is called the PONR, which stands for Point Of No return. If we fail to fix things by then it will not much matter afterward.