Posted by: Green Knight | June 9, 2013

World Oceans Day

Well, it was yesterday, but I was busy cashing a check (hooray, my first ever PAID writing gig…I hope it starts a trend!) So I’ll note the day a day late.

Anyhoo, I was thinking about having grown up next to the Pacific, and how cool it was to be able to go snow-skiing in the Sierras on Saturday and go to the beach on Sunday. I know I saw the Atlantic when I was 4, but I don’t remember it. Waxing philosophical, though, and living in the middle of a big continent these days, I was reminded of how sad I am for people who live their entire lives without ever seeing an ocean except on TV. Not their fault, often economic limitations, but it’s pitiable nonetheless.

Another book on the reading list is 1984’s “Neptune’s Revenge: the Ocean of Tomorrow” by Anne Simon. Very sobering stuff, and this is way before we discovered the plastic-waste vortices in the ocean gyres. I’m ashamed to never yet have read Rachel Carson’s “The Sea Around Us.” But even for those who are permanently landlocked, just about everything we generate ends up in the sea. In a textbook chapter I wrote many years ago, I discussed an anthropologist’s idea that our sloppy waste-disposal habits came from our tree-dwelling primate ancestors. All our discarded detritus and excreta ended up on the forest floor; somebody else’s problem. That’s how we’ve been treating the oceans: out of sight, out of mind. It can’t go on forever, folks.

We humanoids tend to wait until there’s a crisis slapping us in the face before we act, and do something about it. That’s worked for us so far, but that’s mostly because we’ve been lucky, and not so populous as we are now. We can’t count on that anymore. I know, doomsayers have been saying this stuff forever, but I think it’s really time for me to coin a phrase, which can be gloomy or uplifting — depending on how you USE it — “Pitch in or Perish.”

Until I can create, in my basement lab, a breed of people who can drink salt water (with contaminants in it), I think we need to be a bit more careful about what we dispose of.

Okeanos

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