Tag Archives: polution

The Future is…Plastics!

1 Apr

I remember when I was very young most things came in bottles or cans or were wrapped in paper or cardboard. My dad would buy a crate of soda for family consumption every now and then and the sodas would always come in large glass bottles that he would clean and re-crate when finished so that he could return them to the store for the deposit, which he would in turn use to purchase more soda…and let me tell you, those sodas would last for a long time. Back in those days you opened a bottle of soda and shared it with the family. There were no sodas for guzzling individually. That was just too much soda for one person at one sitting…and as we all knew, not the healthiest thing for children, teeth and dentist bills.

But then sometime during the sixties something happened and I remember seeing advertisements in the stores announcing what “Everyone had wanted and had been waiting for!” And it was finally here! No deposit, no return, plastic bottles! What a modern convenience for a modern world! Except I had no idea who had been hoping, waiting and praying for no return plastic bottles. Glass seemed just fine to me, but there we all suddenly were. Guzzling sodas of all sizes and shapes and throwing away the bottles. How convenient! How modern! How…just what we asked for?

And before long everything was encased, bottled or surrounded by plastics, or some such derivative of petroleum, even food. And it’s gotten so bad these days that I often have to resort to the use of a hacksaw or blasting caps to extricate whatever new thing I have bought just to get beneath the plastic it’s wrapped in!

Anyway, fast forward 50 years and we now have more than five trillion pieces of plastic, collectively weighing nearly 269,000 metric tons, floating in the world’s oceans, causing damage throughout our entire food chain, from large plastic pieces that can strangle large animals likes seals and turtles to smaller pieces that can be ingested by fish and then fed up the food chain, all the way to humans.

There are plastic bags and plastic bottles and plastic pieces of all shapes and sizes cluttering up our oceans and landfills all around the world. There is even the now famous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” the size of Texas…yes, Texas…the state!!…hovering somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean along with 4 other giant plastic patches scattered about the rest of our world’s oceans and seas.

And researchers say that things are just going to get worse because…oh you know…we are increasing the production of throwaway plastics! Of course we are! Which takes me back to that grocery store sign that I wondered about oh so many years ago…”It’s just  what we’ve always wanted”, isn’t it?”

But on the bright side, okay, dim side, we now have recycling! Unfortunately despite my efforts to push the big blue can to the curb every other week, we only recycle 5% of the world’s plastic crap every year. So plastics are winning. But not to worry because on the flip side of this horrific ecological story is the even darker fact that if we keep on fishing our oceans and dumping our plastics the way we are fishing and dumping them now, (You know for profit) scientists say that by the year 2050 there will be no fish left to choke on the plastics… anyway!

Which is just what I’ve always wanted isn’t it?… because I don’t like fish! Nothing personal mind you. They just taste fishy to me… But sadly, the 3 billion people in our world who rely on fish for their major source of protein and sustenance will be rather put out, along with the fish of course, who together just might be facing the all too familiar, and all too plastic, fate of: …no deposit…no return.

Signing Bonus?

30 Jul

I was driving down the New Jersey turnpike today as I have done quite often over the past 40 years and I am constantly amazed by the incredible array of power plants, smoke stacks, oil tanks, refineries, generating stations, fire belching exhaust stacks and the miles of conduit pipes that seem to connect them all.

It’s the stretch of the Turnpike that most New Jersey-ans like to call “cancer alley” most probably because it smells like and looks like what could be the Devil’s workshop if the Devil indeed had one! And on this day it looked just like it had on any other day of driving through this hellish landscape… except for one small difference.

And that was a giant new sign on one of the largest power plants that read: ” Energy Efficient and Environmentally Advanced”

And I thought to myself, Really? What’s new and different? Have changes been made? Is our country moving in the right direction and are our energy systems finally becoming more efficient and advanced? And if so why does everything still look, smell and belch exactly as it always had before?

So I did a little research and discovered that a new study of the world’s largest economies has ranked the energy efficiency, policy and programs of each, and Germany is ranked #1 with the United States ranked at lucky #13…but worse than that, China is ranked #4 and India #11! We’re behind India and China!

And those are the 2 countries that are always mentioned by U.S. politicians whenever they attempt to explain why America can’t and shouldn’t join in the fight against global warming and climate change…because India and China, the 2 most populous countries are ruining the planet with their energy inefficiency so why should we bother…but we’re doing worse than they are!

Anyway, it turns out that that power plant on the turnpike with the big sign is one of the top polluters in the state of New Jersey. And our Governor recently pulled our state out of a multistate initiative known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change.

Those in favor of the program see it as a model on how the nation can curb pollution from power plants that increase global warming. But Critics, like our Governor say that such efforts are ineffective and just another tax on utilities.

So, I guess it’s much more environmentally advanced and efficient to just get a big sign and put that on top of the power plants instead

…yep, that oughta do it…a nice, big, fat sign!

Mercy, Mercy, Me

24 Apr

It’s the day after Earth day, 2014. Earth Day has become an annual event, celebrated every April 22, when events are held to demonstrate the support for environmental protection. It was first celebrated in 1970, and is now coordinated globally and celebrated in more than 192 countries each year.

In 1971 Marvin Gaye wrote a song entitled Mercy, Mercy Me and subtitled (The Ecology Song) in which he sang about the sad state of affairs that the Earth and the human condition found themselves in and how, on the Earth of 1971, “Things ain’t what they used to be”.

That was 43 years ago and after 45 Earth Day observances in which the world has come together to support and rally for environmental protection across the planet… how is the Earth doing?

In his song Marvin Gaye asked the question: Where did all the blue skies go? Today in China the sun hardly even shines and in its largest cities the morning sunrise is broadcast over giant televisions in efforts to cheer the population as they begin another workday. Smog alerts and air quality announcements are common in all major cities throughout the world and who among us can say that allergies and breathing ailments are not known to exist within ourselves or our families.

Mr. Gaye next lamented the oil slicks that could be found in the oceans of 1971 along with the fish contaminated with mercury. Today, in 2014, oil slicks and oil spills are still a common occurrence and when they occur they occur in amounts greater and greater each time and 43 years later we are still using oil and fossil fuels in increasing, not decreasing, amounts, while new and more imaginative ways for digging, sucking and fracking these substances from the planet’s very core are being pioneered each year and even as debate continues over whether or not we should invade our national parks and coastlines in the search for more and more.

As for fish and the oceans? Temperatures are rising, corral reefs are dieing, the ice caps are melting and fish are disappearing while plastic debris and garbage is replacing plankton within the fish food chain. Mercury continues to be a problem contaminant and tuna, perhaps the world’s most famous fish, are so contaminated with mercury that the FDA recommends no more than 1 can be ingested per person each week. And now many scientists predict that the oceans may be without fish all together by the middle of this century.

Radiation and air, water and ground contamination from nuclear power plants was a worry and concern back in the 70s and the subject of Mercy Mercy Me‘s next refrain, but back then the nuclear industry was promising safer standards and designs and yet years after this song was produced the very real scare of a melt down at 3 Mile Island occurred in 1979 in Pennsylvania. Then a real melt down happened at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986 and then again in Fukashima, Japan in 2011. Radioactive debris from that disaster is still in our oceans today yet many of our politicians are still championing nuclear energy as the panacea for our future…and safer… energy needs.

Mr. Gaye then concluded his song with lyrics that discussed the over population of the world in 1971, a year that would see the greatest percentage of population increase in the world’s history, and the great strain that mankind was putting on the planet Earth with a world population of almost 3 billion 800 million inhabitants… Today, we have almost doubled that number and the Earth now has 0ver 7 billion 228 million human residents with a total world population of 12 billion predicted by 2050.

So, what have we accomplished with our 43 Earth Day celebrations since the debut of Marvin Gaye’s ecology anthem, over 4 decades ago? Have these Earth Days been rallies to help raise awareness of the Earth’s plight and our complicity in its demise along with the sharing of a process for us to change our ways… or have they simply been a series of going away parties? A way to pay lip service to ourselves and our late, great planet Earth while we continue to pursue our ever more increasingly decadent and deadly ways?

Well, the only thing we can say for sure is that the most prophetic line of Mr. Gaye’s song was it’s first and it still rings true for each and every year that passes into the next…

Things sure ain’t what they used to be!

In fact, they are decidedly worse… and the only ones among us who could even believe it to be otherwise are oddly enough, Creationists! How ironic for this to all be part of an intelligent designer’s very intelligent…plan?

But just to brighten your spirits, I will leave you with a bit of 1971 trivia that is perhaps even more prophetic and of greater irony than Marvin Gaye’s Mercy Mercy Me, the Hot Soul Number 1 Single on Billboard’s charts that summer… for what song did it replace at the top of the charts?…And you climate change deniers will just love this…

James Brown’s… Hot Pants!

Hey-uh!                                                                                                                                                                                            Ooooh! Bring it home!
One more! Hit me! Aaay!
Bring it home! Bring it home!
Oh uh! Bring it on home
Bring it on home…

 

Building a Better Tomorrow

31 Jan

Virtual sunlight: The LED screen shows the rising sun in Tiananmen Square which is shrouded with heavy smog on January 16, 2014 in Beijing, China. Beijing Municipal Government issued a yellow smog alert this morning

In West Virginia, investigators are still trying to figure out how 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to clean coal leaked from a storage facility into the Elk River, leaving 300 thousand people without potable water for several days.

Yes, I did just write “a chemical used to clean coal.” Funny, according to our government and the media, I thought we were mining “clean” coal! How did coal ever get so dirty that it now needs to be cleaned? Go figure!

 

Anyway, The spill is the third major chemical accident in the region in the last five years. How many minor chemical spills there have been is still a mystery…just like clean coal I guess, but companies that pollute state waters are rarely fined and most industrial facilities are rarely inspected. I believe that this particular company was last inspected in the 1990’s so how much could they have screwed up since then? I’m sure that where you work not once being inspected or evaluated or observed by your boss over the last 20 or so years would little affect your job performance…am I correct?

And get this…The federal government’s  main law regulating chemicals, the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, does not require manufacturers to show that their products are safe before they can be used, instead the law places the burden of proof on the Environmental Protection Agency. The result is that the E.P.A. has only tested around 200 of over 85,000 chemicals in use today..and you thought that after they killed Jaws it was safe to go back into the water.

But still there are many among us who cry out that government is too big and too restrictive and that we have too many regulations that keep companies and corporations from being profitable and making a decent living so they can provide jobs to our citizens. And now that corporations are people too you’d think that they might be held a little bit more accountable for the destruction they reign upon our environment and our citizens.

Try poisoning 7,500 gallons of coffee at work tomorrow and see if you get in any trouble. I bet there’s a regulation against your doing that. That’s just bad big government trying to spoil your productivity.

So what’s the big deal anyway? Most of us don’t live in West Virginia or in other polluted places where, well…people just don’t live…but the more we deregulate and the smaller and smaller and less responsive we let our government become the harder it is to stand up against large unregulated corporations and the harder it will become to find nice clean places to live…

Just get a load of China where just about everyone else lives, or at least 1 in every 6 of us, and there they have learned how to live with big unregulated corporations that help their economy to grow and grow while their environment coughs, wheezes and rubs its eyes. There as this season’s first wave of toxic smog rolled into their cities they put on their “air” masks (nice new name for a gas mask, huh?) and went outside to watch the sunrise…on television!

Yes, there the political leaders know just what the people need and want from their giant corporate fed government to help deliver them from rules, regulations and taxation as they all move forward into their bright bright future…

It’s certainly not bigger government that the people want… The people want BIGGER TVs!

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