Friday, October 15, 2010

It's not nice to trash your Mother

Today is Blog Action Day and the topic is water. Did you know water covers 71 percent of the earth's surface? We haven't done a very good job of keeping those waters clean on our rare, habitable planet. But it's not a lost cause. There's still time to make it up to Mom.


Patricia McKillip is a lyrical writer of wondrous stories. In looking for water quotes, I found these lines from THE CHANGELING SEA.

The tide was low that afternoon as Peri walked home, so low that even the great jagged spires stood naked in the glistening sand, and all the starfish and anemones and urchins that clung to their battered flanks were exposed. It was a rare tide. Beyond the spires, the sea dreamed gently, a pale milky blue shot with sudden fires from the setting sun.

And here's another beautiful excerpt from Meredith Ann Pierce's short story collection, WATERS, Luminous & Deep.

One evening, Connor and Elspeth went down to the shore. Moonlight was combing the long, green sea with ravels of silver and winkings of fire.

While we love the reflected fires of moon and sun, we can not accept the man-made fires of oil drilling explosions. It's time to be aware, to speak up, to protect the waters that sustain life on this planet.

Here are some trashy facts and do-it-yourself remedies.

The Ocean Conservancy reports 17,000 pieces of plastic counted during four days at sea about 550 miles off the California coast. Among items adrift in the open ocean were shampoo bottles, laundry baskets and hard hats. Not only is this trashing Mother Earth, it chokes, poisons or otherwise injures and kills fish, birds and mammals.

Remedy? Use less plastic and recycle. Organize neighborhood cleanups to stop trash from washing into gutters. Urge manufacturers to make packaging biodegradable.

A single quart of motor oil can contaminate up to 250,000 gallons of drinking water, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Remedy? Repair motor leaks and never dispose of used oil in gutters or drains. Take any hazardous materials (antifreeze, batteries, bleach, tile cleaner, insecticides, herbicides, resins, paint) to a hazardous waste site. Hey, if you don't want to drink it out of the bottle, don't pour it into the drain where it makes its way to the groundwater or sea.
Burning fossil fuels not only puts carbon dioxide in the air but also in the water. For 20 million years, the pH of the oceans was stable, but in 250 years since we started heavily using fossil fuels, there has been a 30 percent increase in acidity. Just as osteoporosis weakens human bones, the acidified oceans make boney structures and shells weak. More than 60 percent of the world's coral reefs are sick or dying due to pollution, sedimentation and bleaching caused by rising water temperatures.

Remedy? Try to buy the most fuel-efficient car you can, and look into alternative fuel sources, such as solar power for homes. Walk and ride bicycles more often. Turn off non-essential electricity. Talk to town councils about what your community can do.

Chlorine used by paper mills to make your toilet paper white can cause dioxin to be discharged into waterways where it's toxic to fish, wildlife and humans.

Remedy? Use recycled paper goods made without chlorine. A few years ago, I saw a documentary about a river polluted by a mill, resulting in fish downstream with tumorous growths. I switched to non-chlorinated household paper and have never regretted the extra cost to me, knowing I'm not adding to the poisoning of our waters.

My remedies aren't revolutionary. Check out other blogs taking part in the event or any of many conservation organizations, which offer tips on keeping our planet clean. I hope this doesn't come across as preachy, but being silent won't serve us.


J.B. Chicoine said...

Thanks for the pretty pictures and important reminders...

Jean Michelle Miernik said...

I just read an article referencing Origins: How the Nine Months Before Birth Shape the Rest of Our Lives by Annie Murphy Paul. Apparently folks are flabbergasted that the chemicals a pregnant woman is exposed to find their way into the umbilical cords and blood of their unborn children. (Duh?)

I find it equally silly that people can believe that the toxins we dump into the world around us--the air we breathe, the water we drink, etc.--might not affect us humans. How ridiculous!

Your post is pure common sense. Just as it's rude to smoke in front of a pregnant woman, it's rude to pollute the water and air that the whole world depends on for life.

Bish Denham said...

Thank you Tricia for participating! Without the oceans we would not be here.

Belle said...

Very beautiful quotes. Your tips are very useful, doable ideas, too.

Shannon Messenger said...

Beautiful post, Tricia. And so true. There's definitely more I can be doing. *feels inspired to try*

L.T. Elliot said...

I'm huge on recycling! But I can always do better. Thanks for the reminder!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Bridget: You're more than welcome. :)

@Genie: Interesting that people are surprised! Especially with all the years of data we've collected on the long life of chemicals and their effects. I know you're protecting your baby. If only everyone would think that way.

@Bish: Indeed. We must keep speaking up.

@Belle: Thank you so much. I hope many people make an effort, and we turn around the mess we've made.

@Shannon: Yay, for inspiration! And, thank you.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@LT: Glad to hear it! And, I can do better, too. Just gotta stay aware and not let myself be complacent.

Lydia Kang said...

Thank you so much for posting on so much important stuff to help us keep our waters pure and healthy.
You rock!

Hannah said...

What a beautiful post! And The Changeling Sea is one of my favorite fantasy books!

Angela Ackerman said...

I love all these water posts and love all of you who are posting for awareness. Thank you, thank you. This is our only home and we need to start taking care of it. :)

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Jemi Fraser said...

In my class, we recently read a book about a young boy raising money to help dig wells in Africa. The statistics are truly devastating. We need to help more.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Lydia: And you make me smile! Thank you.

@Hannah: Ooooo, I love to find someone else who appreciates McKillip. I love a lot of her work, but that one is a gem.

@Angela: You're welcome, you're welcome! I'm so happy many people are being aware these days.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Jemi: It is such a huge issue. It's amazing there is so much water on the planet and yet we fight over it, have too much or too little, pollute it--the list goes on. I'm gratified that you read stories about it in the classroom. I expect you are a most awesome teacher!

Judy Croome | @judy_croome said...

Trish, living in Africa it was important for me to take part in blog action day 2010.

You covered some terrific practical, important points about saving our water.

The thought of the BP oil spill in the Gulf is just horrifying - big business really must become accountable for the damage they have done to mother earth.

Carolina M. Valdez Schneider said...

So good of you to take part in this, Tricia, and to take such measures in your everyday life to protect our world. Every little bit we do can make an impact, whether it's to add to pollution or to help prevent it.

Those were such beautiful lines about the sea!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Judy: Hi! *waves across continents and seas* I wonder if we can make a difference. I sure hope so.

@Carol: Aren't those lovely lines? It's such a pleasure to see our world through the eyes of a good writer.
Every little bit does make a difference, and I know I could do more.

Talli Roland said...

Beautiful photos, and what a great cause to help spread awareness.

Anonymous said...

A wonderful, heart-felt post.

This reminded me of Rachel Carson's The Sea Around Us, which I read many years ago. I've always been fascinated by water.

storyqueen said...


I see the ocean every day as I come down the hill on the way to work. Never once have I not caught my breath.(That's what growing up in the desert will do for you.)

But do I do all I can for our ocean? probably not.

Thanks for the reminder!


The Words Crafter said...

I loved the quotes you posted as well as the remedies. I'm no longer going to buy any kind of drink in a plastic bottle. Recycle, recycle, recycle!

I also read and posted about the garbage island....heartbreaking and disturbing.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Talli: Thanks. Awareness is always the first step. Sometimes I need extra nudging. ;)

@Madeia: Rachel Carson was one of the first to sound the alarm, and her Silent Spring led to the banning of DDT, which saved countless lives on land and sea. What a woman!

@Shelley: The ocean always makes me catch my breath, too. So immense, so powerful, so beautiful.

@WordsCrafter: The garbage in the ocean is beyond belief. Thanks for posting those great videos on your site.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Thank you Tricia. Thank you thank you thank you.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Yvonne: Thank you!!!

Natasha said...

What a beautiful way of getting your point across.
Thank you.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Rayna: And thank you! I was so moved by your post.

Phoenix said...

"The sea dreamed gently" - oh how I love that!

I try my best to conserve water by not running the water while brushing my teeth, not flushing trash down the toilet, etc. Water is so very precious and it is the ultimate in karma - what you put in is what you get out.

Beautiful post, Tricia :)

Paul C said...

This is a wonderful researched piece on the life giving powers of water. Too bad there are so many threats to our 'mother.'

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

@Phoenix: 'what you put in is what you get out' is perfect! That's it exactly.

@PaulC: Thank you. And it is disturbing how many threats there are.