FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Disposable Planet

Recently, I spent three weeks in a Georgia beach community.  Each morning, I’d run to the pier and, sometimes, on the beach.  At dusk, I’d walk a street that dead-ended with a view of the majesty and immensity of all that water, thinking, in awe, “cradle of life.”

Tuesday, in “Great Decisions” class, the topic was “state of the oceans.”  I had read from the textbook a chapter authored by Sara Tjossem in which she said, “Generations of people thought and acted as though it [the ocean] was so vast as to be beyond human influence, an inexhaustible source of fish and adventure.”

We know differently now with an a posteriori acknowledgement of pollution, over fishing, resource extraction, and climate change.  In other words, human fingerprints.  Exploitation.  Greed.

Our on-the-go lifestyle embraces, among a plethora of throwaways, disposable packaging—usually, non-biodegradable plastic.  We seldom think of the implications when we purchase an unbreakable bottle and carry our groceries in plastic bags.  I recycle.  Many don’t.  And when plastic reaches the ocean, it poses a deadly threat to marine animals that mistake it for food.

One of my most informed classmates talked about Barack Obama’s 2010 National Ocean Policy, an effort to restore the health of oceans and ecosystems.  But this plan, issued as an executive order, doesn’t carry the force of law.  Little has been done with the strategy.  In a video preceding our discussion, an expert used the word “shy” to describe the president’s commitment to environmental issues.

Another classmate voiced frustration about the lack of awareness, saying that in a downward economy, people don’t think about ocean well-being.  Instead, they’re worried about putting food on the table and job security.

Tjossem briefly mentioned in her chapter on British Petroleum’s deep-water drilling disaster, although the assault hemorrhaged crude oil for months, damaging marine and wildlife habitats as well as fishing and tourism industries.  I jumped in with, “Corexit,” explaining that huge quantities of the toxic dispersant were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico.  I followed this with Fukushima  and the leaking of radiation into the sea.

I can’t begin to remember all we discussed in class.  I wrote in a spiral notebook:  shoreline erosion, rising sea levels, acidification, and issues of sovereignty while wondering who holds the deed to the seas.  Seems absurd.  Even more absurd than believing land really belongs to any one of us.

We managed to pack a lot into two hours.  And we questioned what could be accomplished.   Seems offering an economic incentive is most effective.  This is a sad commentary.

Finally, I said what I believe is the distillate of most of our calamities—Wall Street influence.  I see little hope in salvaging anything as long as the bankers and multinational corporations, in control of a system that impoverishes the masses, are profiting from pollution and destruction.

As I drove home, later, after my writing course, I thought about human beings and their evolution from the oceans.  That the place of our birth is perilously sick.  And that the condition may become terminal.   The cradle of life is rocking plumes of death.  If we continue to ignore this, we really needn’t worry about much else.

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland.  She continues to think about Bradley Manning as she parallel processes other obsessions.  She can be reached at: missybeat@gmail.com

 

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail: missybeat@gmail.com

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail