Friday, June 4, 2010

Musings: Deadly Addiction

Purple may be the official Kauai color, but it seems that green and gold are the hues I most frequently see, such as the gold-infused light that caused the green grass of the pastures and green uluhe fern on the slopes of Makaleha to glow as the sun rose in a broad swath of gold in a patchwork quilt sky of pink and blue when Koko and I went out walking this morning.

My usually busy mind was silenced by the trills, tweets, warbles, chirps and coos of birds singing in the bushes, on telephone lines, atop trees, in the fields. It was the sound of life and joy, quite unlike the scene in the Gulf right now, where so many birds are suffocating in oil. Larry Geller posted the link to these extremely disturbing photos on his Disappeared News blog yesterday.

I’ve been avoiding visual images about the oil spew’s impact on wildlife because I knew they would upset me. It was bad enough reading the transcript of wildlife author Carl Safina’s report on Democracy Now! last week about the long term ecological effects of releasing that much oil into the ocean and then mixing it with a chemical dispersant banned in Europe. As Safina noted:

Well, the dispersant is a toxic pollutant that has been applied in the volume of millions of gallons and I think has greatly exacerbated the situation. I think the whole idea of using a dispersant is wrong, and I think it’s part of the whole pattern of BP trying to cover up and hide the body. They don’t want us to see how much oil, so they’ve taken this oil that was concentrated at the surface and dissolved it. But when you dissolve it, it’s still there, and it actually gets more toxic, because instead of being in big blobs, it’s now dissolved and can get across the gills, get into the mouths of animals. The water below the floating oil was water. Now it’s this toxic soup.

That’s what the birds and marine life are living in right now. So while it’s disturbing, it’s good to take a look and be reminded, yeah, this is the really ugly side of oil, the side that we like to pretend doesn’t exist because we enjoy the freedom of driving our cars and switching on an electric light so much.

Meanwhile, in another expression of our deadly addiction, a new study shows the amount of ice covering the Arctic Sea is smaller than it has been in 5,000 years, and shrinking fast.

"The current reduction in Arctic ice cover started in the late 19th century, consistent with the rapidly warming climate, and became very pronounced over the last three decades," the study states. "This ice loss appears to be unmatched over at least the last few thousand years and [is] unexplainable by any of the known natural variabilities."

And you know that's affecting more than a few species — perhaps even pushing them into extinction.

Interestingly, another study of low-lying Pacific Islands indicates that islands may have “a natural ability to respond to rising seas by accumulating coral debris from the surrounding reefs.”

But the two scientists said islanders still faced serious challenges from climate change, particularly if the pace of sea level rises were to overtake that of sediment build-up.

The fresh groundwater that sustained villagers and their crops could be destroyed. "The land may be there but will [the islands] still be able to support human habitation?" Prof. [Paul] Kench said.

That's no small point for us living here in Hawaii, and it seems it's the point that’s so often missed in our abstract, intellectual, detached discussions (and denials) of global warming.

The planet won’t be destroyed. But its ability to support life as we know it — and us — very well could be.


Arthur Ralston said...

Funny, nobody wants to comment on this one.

Seems that Nobody wants to let go of their fossil fueled toys. either the sovereinty people with their jacked up 4whl drives & Atvs, or the property owners with their swimming pools, and 20,000 sq. ft. one button does all homes.

It's amazing how little people want give up, or even acknowledge.

We might not have have to worry about it to long however, check out this link------>

It seems all these toys may not work all that much longer.

AH, the world works in mysterious ways!

Anonymous said...

Wonder how long the the out rage will last when the real effects are felt. Fewer jobs and costlier gas.
My bet is not long!

"An awful lot of innocent people are having their livelihoods severely impacted," said Lee Hunt, president of the International Association of Drilling Contractors, who has estimated the moratorium could lead to the loss of as many as 40,000 U.S. jobs by summer's end.

Oil companies with idled deepwater rigs under long-term contract, including Statoil ASA and Royal Dutch Shell PLC, say they are looking into moving the rigs to other parts of the world, where they would likely stay for much longer than six months.

Anonymous said...

It's definitely time to change our ways. This modern, easy, fast and furious way of living is bad humans and the Earth. Those of us that care about horrible events like this are totally unable to make change at an executive level where it really counts. I feel utterly hopeless about the government, so what is left to hope for?
I have control over personal change. Instead of driving to the store, I walk. If I have errands in Lihue, I park somewhere (or take the bus) and walk. If the bus drivers weren't such amazing jerks, I would ride the bus everywhere (instead of avoiding the bus wherever I can.) I walk to as many places as I need, sometimes for 12 miles. Did this change happen overnight? Was I in shape? No. In fact, I was about as immobile as a frog trapped in headlights on a country road. I never, ever exercised. I ate fast food and meat every meal. I had little doubt that I would kill myself before 40 from my lifestyle.
Imagine the feeling of transporting your body across the land without the chains of an automobile. Think of a moment of all the worries that are attached JUST to your vehicle. Imagine then, all of them gone and your body moving aside a forest with birds eating fish out of a river, or two children laughing while trying to keep up with your pace, or passing car after car sitting in traffic while you are walking alongside them, beating them all to the destination, feeling the ocean breeze on your sweaty face.
I think if we all spent more time in and with Nature, that we would realize it's importance, it's beauty and cherish it with every last breathe in our body.