It covers 71% of the planet’s surface and holds over 97% of earth's water, according to those with the numbers. "The oceans" are one, all connected on a map and in reality. The water on earth today is the only water that's ever been here, continually cycling between ocean and land. We don't know how it got here or why the earth has water - and thus, life - when other planets have none. Yet our civilization's board of directors regard this life-giving mystery as The Great "Away", the ultimate sewer into which they drain and dump the toxins of their incessant search for greater dominance.
The ocean's vastness is a source of immense awe for most of us personally. Growing up in the American Midwest, I was thirteen when I first met the Pacific, and it has never quite let go of me.
Though I was never drawn to water sports or boats, I needed to be near the sea itself and made my life on the West Coast. Sitting and watching the Pacific, breathing it in, walking on its shore, I always left renewed. When I took a tour boat off Maui, they had trouble getting me into the water. “It’s deep.” I preferred to wait on the boat and enjoy the view. But, a kind soul thrust a boogie board into my hand that was holding onto the boat ladder and with something to hold onto, I took off, swimming with turtles who seemed to know I was harmless. The last passenger into the water, I was also the very last one to come out. For two-thirds of my life, I've lived along the Pacific Coast, and I know, from others who live here, that I am not alone in feeling a deep spiritual connection to it.
People who can destroy the natural world of which we are all a part, somehow live without any connection to it. Jacques Cousteau poignantly described it in his last book, The Human, The Orchid and the Octopus (p. 134):
Nature's irreplaceables are being plundered...I call it saccage...a more deliberate aggression.
"Water and air, the two essential fluids on which all life depends, have become global garbage cans," lamented Cousteau in the 1990s, as he fought to stop the dumping of radioactive waste in the Mediterranean and the Channel.
Ocean disposal of radioactive waste ended by treaty in 1993, just before Cousteau's death in 1997. Then in 2011 - 2013, the Fukushima disaster sent over 300,000 tons of contaminated water into the Pacific. This year, Japan wants to release another 1,250,000 tonnes (approximately 1,377,889 tons) over two years.
Ocean radioactivity, tons of plastic, sewage, shipping containers lost at sea, medical waste, toxic chemicals, downed aircraft, ships both above and below the waves - the garbage is endless though the ocean is not. An average cruise ship produces 21,000 gallons of sewage daily, resulting in total cruise ship dumping of more than a billion gallons of sewage in the ocean last year.
Photo: Fernando Jorge, Unsplash
Then, there's toxic noise:
Video by Leo Richard at Natural World Facts, used with permission.
But, in respectful disagreement with Mr. Richard, it's not up to us, is it? Not at all. We can and should make "lifestyle" changes, away from many toxic choices presented to us as "the way we live today". Most of us already made such changes long ago, often placing ourselves on the edges of civilization. Recycling, eschewing plastic straws, buying an electric car, or participating in a day of beach cleanup are like carrying water with a sieve - and sometimes do more harm than good. What real choices do we have when we're considered "consumers" not people? As "consumers" we have no choice in the nature of what's presented, just superficialities like maybe color or size - much like voting in elections. Did anyone check with you about whether the USN should conduct ocean sonar testing? No? Really? Did you receive thunderous applause for speaking on recycling at the packaging industry convention, then have lunch with Tony Radoszewski and convince him that plastic packaging should be halved, down to mere $175 billion annually? Not this week?
By all means, we should do all we can to live simply and in harmony with the rest of nature, but we should not kid ourselves that by living with personal integrity and respect for all life we are making a dent in the destruction. The destruction is far too violent.
“The old Lakota was wise. He knew that man's heart away from nature becomes hard. ~ Luther Standing Bear
Your people are driven by a terrible sense of deficiency. When the last tree is cut, the last fish is caught, and the last river is polluted; when to breathe the air is sickening, you will realize, too late, that wealth is not in bank accounts and that you can’t eat money.
~ Alanis Obomsawin, an Abenaki from the Odanak reserve near Montreal, 1972
The disconnected - the deficient - are addicted to growth, mostly of their dominance. They are killing the planet. They will kill us with it because everyone and everything that does not further their power and profit is, from their viewpoint, disposable. Our resistance and self-protection require knowing what they've been up to, and in that spirit, I've brought together this new TLA feature, a special edition on the ocean.
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