Boyan Slat has a great idea, but I don’t believe his claims are realistic

Have you heard that a 19 year old has made a presentation about cleaning up plastic from our ocean? If you haven’t I have to tell you that this Ted talk is worth watching. If there is one thing I hope you walk away with from watching his presentation – its  that you contribute to plastic pollution without thought or intentionality.   His video  a real problem for our planet. I hope that you are so moved by this young mans ideas that you begin to realize how big of a problem we have made by the thoughtless ways we are habitually destroying our planet.

Does Boyan Slat have a good idea?  YES, YES he does.  His idea is amazing, use the motion of our planet’s oceans to clean up the mess we have made.  Sounds good to me.  Is the idea to clean our planet in a manner of 7 years realistic? No, not really.  The first and most basic reason is that the time to build his theoretical machinery could take a decade just to build.   There are some concerns in how machinery could remove plastics that are known to be suspended up to 90 meters below the ocean.  An additional concern for this particular project focuses on the dangers that occur when you add physical materials directly to the ocean that weren’t there to begin with.  In the case of the plastics themselves, we already know that they leach chemicals into the ocean.  How would a new material added to the ocean impact life?  One answer is that life will begin to develop under and around the introduced product.  We know this is true because there are multiple examples of efforts to build and grow habitats using man made structures.  Below is one such example, from attempts to regrow corral reefs in Florida.  This blog from the Scuba Divers Travel Network discusses many areas regarding the efforts of rebuilding the reefs as well as many global concerns for our oceans.

https://i0.wp.com/www.aquariumtiptank.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/biorock-reef-sculptures-tedtalk.jpg
But the truth is, I don’t believe this solution is the end all be all to ‘saving our planet’ from ourselves. I don’t think that this well intentioned and idealistic man really intended to misrepresent his ideas as an end all solution to plastic pollution in our oceans. Unfortunately, this is what has been happening.  Because I’m into telling people about plastic pollution in the ocean, I often feel that I’m the first person that people run to when they first hear of this concept idea.

The truth is, that it would  take a massive fleet of ships, ones that are stationary – one that are actively moving about our gyres to clean them.  If you have followed my posts you know that there are reasons for Plastic warriors to  unite!  The reality is that all of our planets oceanic systems are being clogged at the arteries with plastic and we are approaching a time when active remediation will be required for life to survive.  These sad truths are represented in studies like this one by Dr. Jennifer Lavers, shows that birds are not only eating plastic, but that they are becoming weak from the leaching of contaminants into their bodies.

As a person who daily preaches the dangers of our addiction to plastic, I have been aware of the problems facing our planet and I communicate them regularly in all I do. I ask the waitress or bartender to not bring straws to the table, or to be used in a beverage delivered to the table. I bring my own bags to the store, or I grab used bags from the recycling bin. In fact there are many times that flat out refuse a bag, or specifically request paper bags.

But that’s my story about my personal activism.   In my experiences, the majority of people don’t really think about how we consume, or what happens when this consumption is over and the materials end up outside in a rubbish or recycling bin.  In an earlier blog I discussed the advantages of setting up a second waste can for recycling.  Those who do find that this one act changes both their awareness and effective recycling rates!

Why do we want to change these rates?  Because materials consumption is at a rate greater than anytime previous in our history.   This poses problems as we are consuming materials at a rate greater than our planet can support.  The cost of industry is pollution.  This pollution comes in the form of CO2 emissions, foreign materials in our water supply, spills and fires from oil.  This trend isn’t going to end any time soon.  This is why it’s so important to recognize that each individual action we take today, impacts the ability for us to fix things in the future.

 

Civil Non-violent Disobedience

This past weekend I spent time in training to recruit and lead Civil Non-violent Disobedience in the State of Colorado.  I am really excited for the opportunity to be part of a large group of American’s who are standing up to protect the future of our planet.  This type of activity, while not something new to the American scene; is something I have not participated in before.   For me, it’s a bit overwhelming to think that I will be joining the ranks of American Citizens who, because of conscience, chose to take a stand in a nonviolent fashion to stand up for injustices actively occurring on American soil.   Most Americans know the story of Rosa Parks, a woman of African descent, who sat on a bus in a seat in 1955 that she  wasn’t authorized to sit on because of the color of her skin.  Her story is part of the history of the Civil Rights Movement, a time period in American history where many took to the streets to participate in making a statement.  The focus was to bring focus to unjust laws in a way that was considered dignified, and worthy of media attention.

Fast forward 50 years.  The same media that represented the values of America as wholesome and pure, has changed the focal point  to one where active discussion of violence has become a part of daily life.  Instead of positive news stories about the good things people are doing in their lives – stories about the worst of humanity’s behaviors unto one another take precedence.  These stories are distractions which often do not include the ways in which private corporations, focusing on profit margins, continue to promote or participate in devastating actions upon our planet.   These actions range from maintaining unhealthy manufacturing processes that have increased our atmospheric CO2 levels to dangerous planetary levels,  to encouraging consumption patterns that are killing our oceans with plastic pollution.  Environmentally, humanity has been extremely careless about our methods of progress and have, in many ways, developed methods of extracting and utilizing natural resources that are permanently scarring our planet.

I mourn frequently for this one Earth that I get to live on.  I feel like people look at me like a lunatic as I take oil created plastic and move it from garbage cans to recycling bins.  People are often offended as I communicate with them their thoughtless methods of consumption, feeling no need to take ownership of the state of Planetary Affairs they are actively contributing to the destruction of.  This is why I took the Pledge of Resistance against the Keystone XL pipeline.  This pipeline is designed to take some of the dirtiest sand on our planet, know as Tar Sand, and convert it into a fluid product to be pumped across our nation as an international export.  The goal is to access this product in Canada, ship it across the United States, then refine it in Texas and export it to Asia – that is they want to export the excess product.  Truth is that Tar Sand gasoline is already being consumed in states like Colorado without much knowledge by the average consumer.
And this is why I went to the Action Leader training for these upcoming nonviolent resistance.   I am grateful these organizations: The other 98%, Rainforest Action Network, and Credo Action Network  banded together to provide a wide variety of training exercises to help prepare me to lead active resistance against the KXL Pipeline.  Please take some time to learn more about this important topic, sign the Pledge of Resistance and become one of the many that will tell President Obama that this isn’t the type of change we signed up for!

Some days it’s really hard to pick your battles

Have you seen X-Men the movie?  There’s a scene in it where Dr. Charles Xavier in in a machine called Cerebro and he is able to ‘hear’ the thoughts of mutants everywhere.  Sometimes I truly believe that our world is becoming like that.  Turn on your tv, drive down the street, open your phone – tablet or computer – we are getting messages everywhere and the sad sad truth is that these messages are controlled and directed at you.

Do a search on your computer for a topic, activity or event.  Now wait and watch.  In the next 20 min (often less) advertizing related to your searches will start appearing on Facebook, Google and every web page you visit.  When it comes to the digital world, marketing is tailored to you.   Unfortunately, this isn’t the case when it comes to news of the world.   There is so much tragedy out there today, most of us find it easy to tune out the nastyness Yesterday I watched a movie called, “Not Today” on child slavery in India.  It is a really good movie that I believe everybody should see. However it’s one of a thousand topics regarding the horrific nature of greed and destruction here on earth.

Today, in America – something unique has happened this week.  In the past seven days we have experienced not one, two or three but FOUR known oil and or chemical spills, some of them are small, but they are real.  While this is happening, our news media has been keeping busy keeping our eyes averted so you wouldn’t focus on them.  Why don’t they want you to focus on this?  Well my opinion is that if we knew how much oil is spilling, we might not support XL pipelines crossing our country – exposing potential disasters to our water resources, our pristine protected lands or our  communities.

Now hold on, I’m not exaggerating.  This is not some far off conspiracy theory.   These stories are real, and once you see all of them in combination, I hope you will do something more than read and share this post.  I also ask you to share it, not just with each other, but post it on the Facebook and Twitter feeds of  your elected officials, tell them your concerns.  Email them your questions and have a direct dialogue with them.   First the stories of these four oil spills.

One – Train March 27, a train derailed and spilled 30,000 gallons of tar sands oil in Minnesota via Bloomberg  (@BloombergNews) http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-27/canadian-pacific-railway-derailment-spills-crude-in-minnesota.html

Two – A small rest area oil spill leaves firefighters with the cleanup and the culprit unknown.  Also unknown – how much was leaking as it continued down the road    http://www.austindailyherald.com/2013/03/30/firefighters-clean-up-after-semi-spills-oil-at-hayward-rest-area/ Via Austin Daily Herald

Three – over 300 gallons hydraulic oil spills in Michigan.  http://record-eagle.com/statenews/x1413935908/Oil-spill-leaves-sheen-on-the-Grand-River-in-Lansing  via Traverse City Record Eagle

Four – Mayflower Alabama, now a No Fly Zone as deemed by the FAA – is an inland tar sands disaster when an underground pipe sprung a leak.  Most resident’s didn’t even know the pipe was flowing under their homes!  American news media silent over for 3 days, minimal coverage since.  Story by Russia Today (@RT_com) http://on.rt.com/gt0j6d

Wow.  That’s a lot of mess.  And this is just one area where we, are watching things get worse.  Truth is if all we do is focus on these problems, how could we find any happyness in our world.  As I consider getting some coffee before writing my representatives, I know I’ll be getting it out of a plastic container that was shipped to my grocer using fossil fuels to get it from another part of the world to my neighborhood.  It’s a never ending battle, and some days well, it’s really hard to pick your battles.  I’m hoping that today, this is one you’ll spend 20 minutes fighting with me.    So go grab a coffee, or soda and then please use the following links to contact the president and your state representatives to voice your concerns.

http://www.usa.gov/Contact/Elected.shtml

As a concerned American, human and resident of planet earth, I thank you in advance.

UPDATE:

A 5th incident is being reported!  Texas pipeline owned by Shell ruptures!!!