JUST ONE THING

It’s a minority of individuals who have any sense of stewardship about anything involving nature and animals. Some people are concerned with a specific animal – for example “Save the Whales” – which is perfectly fine. Some are concerned about all animals and nature – for example Green Peace. But we’re talking a very small number of people when it comes down to it.

One problem that those involved with saving animals or nature must dealoiled bird with is that  they’re regularly scoffed at as extremists, tree-huggers, radicals,  hippies,  environmentalists (heaven forbid) and other invectives, and often they must battle big business and corporations. I think it’s safe to say that a majority of people don’t give a thought to a species of any kind becoming extinct and might not even care if someone planted the thought.

whale-postcard3127275067734833074.jpgThis realization really hit home when I sent out an email to a group of 70 people, most of whom I know fairly well. Some I’ve known for years. I asked that they consider supporting the publication of Saving Our Oceans since the net proceeds from the sale of the book were being donated to several 501c3 organizations. Many of the 70 live in California, and California does have a healthy history of protecting their coastline and marine sanctuaries.

Get ready for the big response! Ready? One person out of 70 said they’d be delighted to buy the book. That is .02 per cent.

One woman asked me to remove her from my email list.

Well, it’s very possible it could simply be me.

However, I have found only one individual in the tiny town where I live who cares one whit about the health of the ocean, the captivity of orcas, Japanese whaling, or any similar environmental topic.

It’s NOT okay for 1,000,000 species of plants and animals to die off. It is NOT acceptable to be harpooning the smartest mammals in the ocean (possible smarter than people in some regards) or holding them prisoners in swimming pools for entertainment. It’s not acceptable for big business to rape, pillage, and pollute the earth. There seems to be a robust “leave it for others to fix” attitude. Or is the real reason behind inaction and ambivalence that the problems seem overwhelming and hopeless?

Seaworld's Orca Swimming Pool
Photo by change.org

Yes, for the most part we all have extremely busy, stressful lives, but the solution might be simpler than people realize. Imagine this: What if everyone, every single person, did something helpful. Just one thing. I think we can all afford to do JUST ONE THING.

bottles

Start by saying NO to PLASTIC Bags, Bottles and Straws. One thing.

 

“Thousands have lived without love, none without water.” W.H. Auden

The New York Times ran an article May 21, 2019, reporting on the polluted drinking water in many parts of California. Two states so far, California and Michigan, have confessed that some populated areas in these states have water polluted to the point of being undrinkable. Every state could likely say the same.

According to Saving Our Oceans by R.L. Coffield, the list of unscrupulous companies that have contaminated drinking water for literally millions of people is shocking. It seems there are endless accounts of “manufacturing, mining and waste disposal companies – and dozens of others – who are among the country’s worst water polluters.”

“Hundreds of these companies have been contaminating drinking water throughout the country for decades with everything from arsenic and lead, to mercury and chromium – most coming from improper dumping and waste disposal….” (Environment, “Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) “Mining and smelting operations are responsible for contaminating water with heavy metals in almost every state in the nation.”

Example: “In Ringwood, New Jersey, Ford Motor Co. dumped more than 35,000 tons of toxic paint sludge…poisoning groundwater with arsenic, lead, and other harmful bacteria. Today, more than 43 years after the dumping ended, those toxins are still in the groundwater and threaten a reservoir providing water to millions of residents in New Jersey.”

Example: “In North Carolina, the state has told residents living near coal-fired power plants their water contains elevated levels of chromium-6 and other chemicals.”

Example: “Anaconda Aluminum in Montana produced manufacturing wastes that contaminated local water sources with lead and chromium. Gulf States Utilities in Louisiana discharged toxins into marshlands polluting waters with benzene and other chemicals, and the Conklin Dumps in New York leaked volatile organic chemicals into groundwater.”

Photo by NRDC.ORG

Various industries located on or near the Ohio River which borders six states and provides drinking water to nearly 3 million people, have dumped over 600 million pounds of toxic substances into the river.

These toxins cause extraordinary health problems in people and animals. Dioxins (byproducts of incinerators) are the most commonly released chemicals. “They are known carcinogens and exposure has been linked to health effects such as heart disease, diabetes, and reproductive issues. Almost every living creature on Earth has been exposed to dioxins, according to the National Institutes of Health.” (“Industrial waste pollutes America’s drinking water.”) And how much of all these poisons traveling downstream make it out to sea? We already know that fertilizer runoff provides a gross amount of contaminants to the Gulf of Mexico helping to create the world’s second largest dead zone – 8,700 square miles.

There are other “more modern” examples of toxin pollution, such as PFOS and PFOAS (forever chemicals are found in the blood of more than 99 per cent of Americans) along with radioactive waste. By the time one reads about Naegleria fowleri (brain-eating bacteria found in water) and vibrio vulnificus (flesh-eating bacteria found in food and water) the idea of a house-hold water filter begins to sound necessary and the cost quite reasonable.

There are many “natural” sources of water contamination also. Trevor Nace, a science writer, describes the “Nine Deadliest Rocks and Minerals on Earth” (Forbes). Sometimes these rocks and minerals are water soluble and can leach into water. Others, like arsenic, a rather common toxin, comes from water flowing through arsenic rich rocks and soil. Some areas experience quite a bit of arsenic in the water which is why well owners especially in these areas should have their water checked regularly. Not all well owners are aware of this, unfortunately. And just because a neighbor’s well water tests fine, doesn’t mean the next door neighbor’s well will.

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Now available

Hats Off to Exxon – They’ve Done it Again!

 

cleaning each other
Photo by Mike Baird. offshore-technology.com

30 years ago, the worst oil spill in U.S. history took place in the pristine Prince William Sound in Alaska. For those too young to remember, this tragedy that killed literally hundreds of thousands of seabirds, otters, seals, and an entire pod of orca whales was entirely avoidable.

For a quick review: recall that the drunken captain, Joseph Hazelwood, gave control of the vessel, Exxon Valdez, to a relatively inexperienced, unlicensed third mate who ran the tanker aground on Bligh Reef, a well-known, clearly marked reef.

oiled bird
Photo by Audubon.org

While the Coast Guard, Fisheries and others twiddled their thumbs trying to figure out what to do about the calamity, the oil spread and covered 1300 miles of unspoiled, immaculate coastline. When the clean-up finally began, the damage was already done. But it wasn’t entirely done…much of the clean-up actually made matters worse, such as spraying oil dispersal chemicals in the water (which causes oil to sink as tiny droplets – it does not dissolve the oil into nothingness).

evostc.state.ak.us
Photo by Evostc.state.ak.us

The next tragedy was washing the shoreline with high-pressure, hot water hoses, which simply drove the oil into the ground, causing more ecological damage by killing any remaining plants and animals in the process.

It gets worse, however. The offending captain was acquitted of felony charges and fined a mere $50,000 (for doing billions of dollars worth of damage). He was also assigned 1000 hours of community service – hopefully it was in retrieving dead sea life, but that would be too logical a punishment.

So much for that catastrophe.

The new issue: Exxon predicted decades ago that the carbon dioxide level in our atmosphere would rise to precipitous levels, but they chose to do nothing when action could have been taken. Exxon predicted that by 2020 CO2 would reach the levels we now have. The last time CO2 levels were this high was about 2.5 million years ago during the Pliocene age. At that time, scientists say the oceans were 82 feet higher than now, and trees grew near the South Pole.

The fact that Exxon made this dire prediction of a CO2 level between 400 and 420 ppi, knew how bad it could prove to be and kept the matter classified, did nothing to avert this, and instead poured millions of dollars into a disinformation campaign is treasonous. But, the executives have big salaries and money in the bank. Wonder where they think they’re going to live to escape the consequences of their decisions?

So, you may be wondering, what’s the problem?

For starters, there’s reason to think that high CO2 levels can have catastrophic effects on people’s health. For example, heat waves kill thousands of people. More people die from heat exposure than hurricanes, lightning, tornadoes, earthquakes and floods (Business Insider, “Earth has crossed a scary threshold for the first time in more than 800,000 years, and it could lead to tens of thousands of deaths.”) CO2 drives temperatures higher, and as temperatures climb, non-ozone warmer weather will increase rates of lung cancer, asthma, and emphysema.  (Ibid)

ticks
Photo by labs.russell.wisc.edu

My personal favorite: ticks and mosquitoes! There’s never yet been a mosquito that has passed me by! These annoying creatures thrive in warmer climates. Some of them, besides being blood-suckers, carry diseases like Lyme Disease, Zika, and Dengue Fever.

Hurricanes and fires will be an increasing problem. Due to warming seas and rising oceans, hurricanes will become more fearsome. And unprecedented rainfall will occur. This was seen recently in Texas, and today’s weather forecast is for two rain rivers to drench California again. Wildfires, despite the rain, will increase due to higher temperatures. Wildfire season is now much longer than it used to be, particularly in the West.

So, 415 ppm CO2 levels may appear to be a rather boring headline. But it’s not. It’s an imminent warning – one that we likely have received too late.

(Read more about our ocean and its inhabitants in Saving Our Oceans, by R.L. Coffield) Pending on Amazon.

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Saving Our Oceans to be Released May 15

orca photo

Just in the nick of time for summer reading, Saving Our Oceans will be released May 15. It will likely appear on Amazon a short time after that, or the book can be ordered from Moonlight Mesa Associates. You can email us here to get your signed copy.

Here’s a sneak preview:

How is it possible that the most intellectual creature to ever walk the earth is destroying its only home?

Jane Goodall

Introduction: Transformation

What began as a simple idea for a book about ocean and plastic pollution grew seriously sidetracked. In the process of researching this issue, it became very clear that ocean pollution is intricately connected to the rivers, land, and air that generously shed their pollutants into the ocean. It’s estimated that 70 to 80 percent of the ocean’s plastic pollution comes from fresh water sources. And a mountain of evidence indicates that freshwater pollution, including drinking water that originates from rivers and aquifers, is stored in reservoirs, or is even captured as rainfall, is a much more acute problem than most people realize. It appears that there may not be any bodies of water at all that do not have plastic/toxic pollution issues, some obviously worse than others. This then accounts for the inclusion of a chapter on fresh water pollution which expanded to a chapter on potential water shortages and water wars. While some of this country is drowning in water, other parts are parched. This is true worldwide also.

Plastic pollution, both land and ocean, offered an invitation to take a closer look at the promise and disappointment of recycling. What can we do with the plastic we’re drowning in? Several possibilities are presented, but nothing yet seems to be a sure thing, although there is hope despite endless controversy on the subject.

And how can one write about ocean plastic pollution without including many people’s favorite mammal – the whale. In late 2018 a dead whale washed ashore. One can pretty much name any country where this happened, as whales have been turning up dead in what seems record numbers around the world. The necropsy revealed the whale had ingested 114 plastic bags along with flip flops, plastic cups, and other plastic debris. This shocking occurrence should have been enough to rouse the public’s ire and the plastic producers’ repentance for their prolific adulteration of the earth with their product, but it didn’t. It’s horrifying to consider the possibility that this whale represents the norm, not the exception. This, of course, brings up the dismaying situation of Washington State’s beloved Southern Resident Pod of orcas who, in addition to suffering from malnutrition, like orcas worldwide are also filled with toxins generated by PCBs and other products dumped years ago (and some fairly recently).

The whale issue is also complicated by the nations that continue to slaughter mammals who have been scientifically proven to be extraordinarily intelligent – who live in matriarchal pods for decades, who communicate and navigate with advanced sonar and oral abilities, and who, in fact, can feel pain and are self-aware. Did I mention the criminal captivity of whales? Did I mention the millions of seabirds who die every year because of plastic ingestion? What about those turtles? And the ocean inhabitants trapped in discarded nets?

By now we know that plastic does not “go away.” But it doesn’t stop with plastic. Biological waste, fertilizer runoff, and even animal excrement travel through river systems to the ocean. The items you may unthinkingly be dumping down your drain flow into a sewer system and can eventually make their way to the sea.

Finally, the “Rights of Nature” briefly found its way into this book. The Rights of Nature seems to be a movement that is not well known in this country yet. The United States, now seemingly run by lobbyists and corporations, has been resistant to adopting the philosophy that nature has rights just as much as people. Animals in general have been granted some rights, but nature itself is on its own and subject to demolition, pillage, and destruction by owners and developers. There are countries, however, like Ecuador, Bolivia, New Zealand, India and some European countries that agree with this right. Ecuador adopted the Right of Nature into their constitution in 2008: first nation to do so.

I am not a scientist, a marine biologist, or any other highly skilled, scientifically oriented person. I have two degrees but am not particularly smarter for it. I ride a mule. I hike. I row. I like to paint. I also own a micro-sized publishing house that up until now has specialized in western publications, both fiction and nonfiction (western as in cowboy up). I have published award-winning titles, and sometimes I self-publish a book, like this one.

Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, a former sailor, I am one acquainted with blue water sailing, having traveled around 25,000 miles on a 34’ Cal 2-34 back in the day when people navigated using a sextant and dead-reckoning. I’ve  been acquainted with the ocean’s moods and have a respect that at times feels much more like fear. I’ve traveled the Inside Passage to Alaska, and I’ve seen a plethora of whales in my journeys. But like many others, I’ve felt stymied in trying to help remedy the dire situation facing the ocean, whales, and other sea life. I’ve fretted about these issues, chagrined at my lack of involvement. Although I’ve donated money to worthy causes, hoping my meager funds could help better these challenges, donating does not bring the same satisfaction as doing.

Then one day, when I was on my little tugboat in the Northwest enjoying my summer escape from Arizona’s heat, the death of a baby orca and the protracted grief and anguish of its mother struck a sense of sorrow I couldn’t escape. Rather than silently mourn and carry depression around, I resolved to take action of some sort – and this book is one piece of the action plan I devised. My plan is still evolving, and I’ve also included a bit of this in Saving Our Oceans, as well as simple, likely already well-known ideas for those who’d like to do something about the calamity unfolding on the planet. I still haven’t decided if my evolving ideas are audacious or just genuinely bone-headed, but for two years I’ve been wanting to move forward on a new path with my small publishing company, but I just didn’t know what or where or how. Until now.

Should you regret having purchased this book, try to mollify yourself with the thought that the net proceeds from the sale of this title will be donated to a worthy cause, such as The Orca Conservancy, The Ocean Foundation, and the Save Our Wild Salmon organization.

I know these organizations will be very grateful for your support, and I sincerely thank you.

 

R.L. (Becky) Coffield

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