The Enemy

Walt Kelly said it all so well in this poster for the first Earth Day in 1970. It was an image he returned to, most famously in this cartoon:

But the problem goes way beyond littering and overflowing land fill sites. There is a great mass of discarded plastic floating in a vortex in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Said to be several times larger than Texas and growing at an alarming rate, this garbage island is smothering and choking everything that encounters it. The plastic will never disappear; at best it will crumble into tinier and tinier toxic pieces, held in suspension, poisoning the sea… and eventually us.  And no one seems to have any idea what to do about it.

In addition the tsunami that devastated Japan last year washed out to sea incredible amounts of trash, everything you can imagine, now drifting towards Hawaii and the west coast of North America. Here is Charlie Rose interviewing Philippe Cousteau on CNN about marine debris.

The last clip I have to share is both beautiful and terrifying… Nasa’s view from space of the light (and therefore thermal) pollution. No wonder we can’t see the stars at night!

So what can we do? In our household we already recycle everything possible, compost food waste, keep paper to a minimum by reading news and magazines online, use things until they wear out. And we never buy bottled water. We will continue all of this, of course. But how do you buy milk, or bread, or margarine and yogurt, or even your prescription meds, without accumulating more plastic!?  How can you boycott necessary products that are available only in plastic!? I can’t even take my little dog for a walk without using a plastic bag… how silly is that!?   The next time I go to Tim Hortons for coffee I am taking my own mug… let’s see what happens.

Pascal Bruckner (Apocalyptic Daze, my blog two days ago) warned that our individual attempts to minimize consumption and waste are useless,  “that finding ourselves at a loss before planetary threats, we will convert our powerlessness into propitiatory gestures, which will give us the illusion of action”?

Indeed! But I will engage in one of these propitionary gestures…to remind me of my research this week and the issues it raises I am going to print the pogo cartoons, colour them with my coloured pencils, and put them on the refrigerator door. This tiny act will remind me that every day  should be earth day. And as favourite cocktail mixes all come in plastic bottles, while I do it I will drink water.

You cannot print anything directly from the blog. To print images like the cartoons, click on the image, click on copy or save image, open a document file, and save it or paste it to your computer. Then open it on your computer and print it from there. The same is true of text. Highlight what you want to save, copy or save to your wordprocessing program, and print from there.


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