That Nature Show: Ocean Garbage Pollution

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The sad corollary of the sad search for Malayasian Flight 370 is all the trash that the radar images have found in the southern ocean of our planet. One imagines admirals, heads bent, being embarrassed to answer the question, “What is that thing, sir?” “Packaging, son, for the things that make our global economy purr.”

I saw a cloudy image of what could easily have been the huge styrofoam sarcophagus that encased our new fridge.  Yes, I needed a new fridge. Something reasonable I could defrost a whole turkey in and shove my entire shopping from Costco in, isn’t this what it means to be living the dream?

Yet each piece of flotsam that is not the plane has no biography, who cares about it? It continues to float. And we carry on, looking. Ignoring the dire sign of my fridge box showing up in so called “pristine” and very remote part of the ocean and the bobbing thousands of my son’s Ninjago Legos he’s lost interest in.

And the timing of all these images? Just when a (what’s the collective noun for a group of climate scientists? a thunderhead?) a thunderhead of the best scientists in the world gathered recently in Yokohama sounding the gong (headline from the UN: “Climate impacts ‘overwhelming.'”).  The news out of Yokohama is dire, global warming is as real and gnarly as your hard-drinking duck-hunting Uncle Bob. He would shoot the last duck on Earth.

Color me tree hugger, but in 50 years (the time the thunderheads say the s#$t is going to hit the fan) we’re going to need to do more than hug trees and pandas, honey. We’re going to have to build seawalls, grow new crops, adapt to new diseases, weather patterns and mass migrations, say au revoir to the picturesque islands we have pictures of from our honeymoons, the whole concept so last century.

However, things have always been changing. There have been previous mass extinctions. Hell, according to the fossil record the Arctic used to harbor warm-water crocodiles. Anything on the face of the Earth today is a survivor, including you and me.

We are a resourceful species, people, we’re tinkerers, mound builders. The Netherlands is one giant hydraulic. Let’s not get so mired in the small (my son did not make the traveling lacrosse team! I’m pissed!) and forget all our children deserve to win at the very bare minimum clean air and fresh water and not pieces of junk so large they could be mistaken for jumbo jets floating in the ocean that is their inheritance.



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