February 8, 2010

Classified Report on the Oceans: Zero Progress

This is a picture of the corpse of an albatross chick, found on the remote Midway atoll in the Pacific. As it died and rotted, the contents of its digestive tract showed why it was fated never to mature.

Three days ago, Betsy Reznicek, office sparkplug at Veterans For Peace, posted another picture from Midway on her Facebook page and I have been unable to get it out of my mind. I backtracked to the website of photographer Chris Jordan. He has shot and posted about 30 of these images, and looking at one or two does not make the next couple dozen easier to take, believe me.
Jordan’s very brief text just deepens the horror. It reads, in part:

The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.
This got me thinking back to a post I had intended to write a couple of years ago (one of many that never got off the Road To Hell Paving Company truck). I had been struck by a contradiction highlighted in two media stories that caught a sudden gout of ink (or pixels) at around the same time.

The first brief spate of media attention hailed the success of the Irish Republic in driving plastic bags out of the country, and the anti-plastic attitudes the campaign had instilled or reinforced among the people. The other was about the Pacific Trash Vortex, a concentration in the ocean of suspended particles of human debris, mainly plastic, roughly twice the size of Texas--and growing.

Even so splendid an effort as Eire’s, I was going to say, pales before the damage rapacious capitalism continues to wreak in the name of consumption and convenience--and in the pursuit of profit.

Well, the intervening years haven’t exactly invalidated my point. The German newsmagazine Der Spiegel’s online edition recently excerpted a classified German government report on the state of the oceans:
Still, according to a classified German government strategy paper...if you add up all the good such measures have done, you still end up with zero. In fact, according to the confidential paper, international efforts aimed at protecting the oceans have failed across the board. Our oceans have devolved into vast garbage dumps.
And so far none of the talk, in the US or globally, of Green capitalism, Green jobs, Green recovery has done Thing One to change this.

One more piece of evidence that the crisis we face is three-fold--economic political and environmental--and that revolutionary solutions are needed, most ricky-tick. Just look at those damn birds...

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