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Archive for May, 2010

This disaster has happened in a very visible way and allows us to make some connections to the larger industrial system that created it. In a way, this is just the event we needed to kick start more environmentally sound policies. With at least 6 million gallons of oil spilled or leaked so far, this is shaping up to be the worst oil spill in US history. However dreadful this is, we should remember that each day our current socioeconomic system wrecks far more damage to the vital ecosystems that support us.

Since babies are on my mind I’ll give you just one example of our overly wasteful system. In an earlier post, I noted it takes over 7 billion gallons of oil each year just to make disposable diapers. Our use of these environmentally destructive diapers ever year is at least 1,000 times worse than this spill, yet it’s not making the headlines The fact that Americans throw away 18 billion diapers per year (570 per second) that last for another 300 years, is a travesty, but yet just one example of a myriad of environmental shockers. Where do we think these diapers go? Worse yet, some waste facilities incinerate them and put all of their chemicals and toxins into the air, which find their way back into our food chain. Ahhh….!

As oil becomes scarcer, we are going to ever greater lengths to get our hands on it. This is because our entire industrial system relies on this cheap and abundant source of prehistoric sunlight. A crisis like this can be an opportunity to make connections that people otherwise would not have though about. Most of the time, our impact is obscured and not visible enough for anyone to care. The environmental movement of the 1970s succeeded in part because we were fighting against pollution that we could all see and agree was bad. However, the movement now underway is much more difficult to see and act on because the toxins, pollutants, greenhouse gases, and piles of trash are not seen or felt on a daily basis. This makes it tough for people to understand why things are so dire.

We need to take this opportunity to rally the changes that must happen at all levels of society: we need new laws and business models to create a sustainable future. Do we really think we can keep consuming at this rate? Do we really think the entire planet can munch through resources the way Americans do? We need to rethink our society and this is as good of an event as any to do so.

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Diapers: An average child will use between 8,000 -10,000 disposable diapers ($2,000 worth) before being potty trained. Each year, parents and babysitters dispose of about 18 billion of these items. In the United States alone these single-use items consume nearly 100,000 tons of plastic and 800,000 tons of tree pulp. We will pay an average of $350 million annually to deal with their disposal and, to top it off, these diapers will still be in the landfill 300 years from now. Americans throw away 570 diapers per second. That’s 49 million diapers per day. – Clean Air Council | Waste Reduction & Recycling Program http://ping.fm/gDh8M

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Living Planet Index shows all of Earth’s living systems in decline. We must take swift action to protect and regenerate the natural capital we are losing. http://ping.fm/es6Xe

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A Himalayan Village Builds Artificial Glaciers to Survive Global Warming [Slide Show]: Scientific American – This is an inspiring story and scares me at the same time. How long will we be able to engineer our way out of global warming before collapse of our ecosystem and its services? http://ping.fm/QPwtN

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If the success or failure of this planet, and of human beings, depended on who I am and what I do, then how would I be? What would I do? – Buckminster Fuller

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This is exactly the reason why need to start figuring out ways to reduce our production of waste in Hawaii (and everywhere else). 20,000 tons sitting on a dock!? Crazy. We could do better and it will require us to change the laws to promote and encourage the use of compostable products along with the reduction or complete elimination of anything that would need to go into a landfill. Congratulations to my friend Robert Harris for being quoted and pictured in the New York Times! http://ping.fm/AbRNV

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UN says case for saving species ‘more powerful than climate change’ | Environment | The Guardian http://ping.fm/nd5nT

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