Oil spills, litter, and threatened wildlife are nothing new. What is new is the frequency, magnitude and intensity of these manmade pressures on our world. Changing this death spiral sometimes seems almost impossible. Mainstream apathy, an increasingly compromised media and a bipartisan lack of political will stand in the way of the drastic shift toward sustainability that is needed. For example, months after the BP spill—made possible by deep water drilling loopholes set down by former Vice President Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force--the Obama administration cleared the way for more deepwater drilling the Gulf of Mexico. Many of those pumps are up and running, and little has changed. New images obtained by Freedom of Information Act show that the BP oil spill caused far worse damage to wildlife and wetlands than previously admitted. Dolphins are sick, indicating eco-system wide damage, and other creatures such as sea turtles have suffered huge losses.
But oil spills are just one ugly side effect of the unfolding tragedy of 100 years of linear consumerism. It’s clear that countries with economic wealth need to move quickly toward closed-loop, or better yet—“restorative” models of manufacturing. If private interests can’t or won’t help keep plastics out of waterways, protect fresh water ecosystems, and put the needs of other living things ahead of corporate profits, then it’s a matter of our own survival to shut them down.
The B.P. oil spill may be the best known
fossil fuel disaster in recent years, but
it’s hardly unusual. In the past decade, the
number of spills from U.S. pipelines and
offshore rigs has quadrupled. Drilling in
the Gulf has already resumed, approved by
the Obama administration.
|Oceans of Plastic
A recent UNEP study estimates
that there are about 46,000 pieces
of plastic litter per square mile
floating in every square mile of the
|A new shoe typically consists of
more than 50% virginia rubber. A
typical American owns 10 pairs of
shoes. Making one of these shoes
produces global warming pollutants
equivalent to driving a typical car
As resource demands grow, thousands
of species are being poisoned, starved
to death or simply cut off from what
they need to live - at a far faster rate
than new ones can evolve.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
|Tapping our Future
Fresh water - rivers, lakes and
aquifers - are being privatized,
over-harvested and polluted at alarming
Read more about this is our June 2012 issue, available in our Magazine Archive.