Monthly Archives: June 2010

Getting the word out: We can solve the problem of the Pacific Garbage Patch

Mary Crowley is rounding up willing volunteers and their boats to tackle the problem of the presumed Texas-sized garbage patch in the pacific. She has a plan, and wild amounts of fortitude and vision to tackle this growing island of plastic and trash…and she even wants to recycle the plastic once it’s brought onshore.

We’ve all seen and participated in trash clean-ups–in parks, along roadsides, at the beach.  It has now fallen to us to figure out how to do this in the open ocean…it’s our garbage, and our problem.  Mary Crowley is a hero and a visionary and if I had a boat, I’d probably sign up to join her.  For my part, I’ll continue to pick trash up and bring it back to shore when I’m out on my board.

Spread the word about Mary Crowley’s Project Kaisei

“The big challenge for us is to get the word out that we do have the technology to figure out how to solve” this problem, she says.

Some 60 to 80 percent of the plastic in oceans is not released by ships but originates onshore before being swept out to sea via coastal waterways.

Kaisei means “Ocean Planet” which of course, we of the Blue Planet are.

Another site, Container Recycling Institute,  tracks the number o, linked to from the Kaisei site tracks how many plastic bottles are going straight into landfills.  If this doesn’t alarm you, I want some of what you’re ingesting.

One last thing, the Kaisei project set out two ships last year.  Each ship sampled waters in the Pacific within 3,500 miles of each other and the samples are being analyzed now, but what was immediately evident to the researchers was the growing layer of small bits of plastic on the surface of the ocean–everywhere.  Thousands of miles offshore, for as far as you could see.  Imagine.

And now imagine yourself as part of the ocean ecosystem, a whale, dolphin, tuna, starfish, coral bed, kestrel, herring…that relies on a chain of being that is now consuming tiny bits of plastic as though it were food, tiny minute bits of plastic.  Plastic working its way right up into the Great Chain of Being.

Of which we, you and I, are a part.  Just think of it.

Take a look at US.

From Jon Taplin's blog via Jodene

This song has been on my mind lately: The Road to Hell

This Sweet Old World

I’ve been humming the tune of This Sweet Old World today, floating between grief and disbelief over the BP Spill.  This isn’t a scree about that mess, I don’t know what can really be said.  BP should promise flat out that it will do anything and everything possible to make this right, simply, clearly, no hedging.

This sweet old world….

S’anyway…

Yesterday I had a minor medical treatment that involved a small incision and some stitches.  No big. But I was somewhat dumbfounded when over the course of 25 minutes I saw the assistant put on, remove and toss in the garbage no less than six pairs of latex gloves.

No, really.  Six pairs.  Right in the plastic bag that held the growing mound of waste that would be collected up and thrown somewhere.  The ocean probably.

I mentioned my surprise to the assistant and he, without the slightest thought, said, “well, we have to use a new set of gloves each time we open a canister because the germs can spread so easily.”

Ok.  Picture this: my little treatment happening at that moment, hundreds and hundreds of times yesterday all around the world…cuz yeah, it wasn’t very exotic.  And then imagine more complex treatments, and full out surgeries. Imagine the amount of plastic bags full of latex and plastic wrappers emanating from those hospitals all around the world.

six pairs of latex gloves in 25 minutes

So I’ve been thinking about this. Rolling it around in my head, along with the beached whales this summer and their stomachs full of plastic, and the ease of plastic, and the mindlessness of plastic and then a talk by Bill McKibben gave on NPR the other day and his new book, Eaarth,  which argues for the end of growth.

How did I get there?  Because it is the magic thinking of an expanding universe of humanity that is at the root of most of our problems today…as McKibben says, we are now “too big to succeed.”

Consider: the growing universe of germs is due to an ever increasing population that is ever increasing its number of cure-all antibiotics that the invisible microbial world mutates to conquer again and again and again.

Consider: the more people we have, the more resources we use, in an obviously limited world.

Consider: the dwindling resources requires us to take ever more extreme actions to supply the ever increasing population of humans demanding ever more of everything, while believing there is no cause-and-effect–magic!.

There is a report today about the impact slowing down– reducing driving speeds– would have in a systemic way...proof positive that a small thing can make a big difference.  We could do this, but as a nation, the idea of slowing down is insulting, not to mention unenforced, and basically any questioning of our power to do what we want, when we want, and at the speed we want, is generally viewed as unpatriotic.  Our magic thinking has gone round the bend.

There are things we could do.  You and I both know there are things we could do differently, for the sake of this sweet old world.