Volcanoes. Earthquakes. Blizzards. Floods. Drought. The earth has a way of getting our attention--even if it doesn't always get our respect.
The 40th anniversary of Earth Day--the granddaddy of Green-- is Thursday, and many communities have celebrations and clean-up campaigns all week. I like to think of Earth Day as every day. This is, after all, the planet that provides our sustenance and shelter within the universe.
It doesn't matter whether or not you "believe" in global warming. What does matter is we are responsible for what you see in these pictures, which come from the Ocean Conservancy and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Marine Debris Program.
Not only is this garbage not pretty, it kills.
This photo of an injured pinniped entangled in fishing net is the least disturbing photo I found. There are tons of pictures of birds with beaks tied shut or innards clogged with plastic objects, of dead sea turtles and dolphins caught in debris that starves or drowns them. I couldn't bring myself to post the dead animals here. Did you know that a drifting plastic grocery bag looks a lot like a jelly fish to some hungry sea creatures?
the tides wash ashore
strange bounty--oil cans, plastic
bottles, strands of ghost nets
Hawaii is paradise, right? Who doesn't dream of soaking up sunshine and snorkeling there? But there are more than 700 sites in the archipelago where ocean currents deposit marine debris that comes from thousands of miles away. Since 1996, more than 600 metric tons of derelict or "ghost" fishing nets have been removed from the remote northwestern islands of the archipelago.
NOAA, being all scientific and stuff, doesn't verify many of the figures floating around online about the amount of debris that might be in the oceans or number of deaths attributed to it, but the numbers are not really the issue. If one animal or bird dies because of our throw-away culture, that's one too many.
So what can we do? Three words: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. I purchased reusable shopping bags that crunch up small enough to fit in a pocket or purse so I always have them with me.
Another thing anyone can do is help clean up our global house.
You don't have to join a group effort if it's not your thing. Just carry a small trash bag sometimes when you walk. Clean up your own neighborhood and parks so that the garbage that less-enlightened people drop doesn't wash down the drains, into the rivers and then the ocean.
My friend and I did that while walking around a lake. We got curious stares from some people and gratitude from others. Hey, maybe they'll do it some time, too.
I sure hope this didn't come across as a lecture or rant. I just really think we may be running out of time if we don't get serious--each and every one of us. Is there anything you do to make things better for Mother Earth?