tiny rant: space vs oceans


Just a wee rant for a Monday, a nutshell version to suggest that if only a fraction of space money was used to clean up the oceans (forget even the lakes and rivers, just the oceans for now) wouldn’t that be a Grand Thing?

But it’s not likely to happen, is it.

I’m guessing space people and ocean people don’t share money, much less philosophies.


And is there even an Ocean Program????

I’m also guessing the answer is that space is sexier than oceans (to some). More fun to play with spacey toys and go where “no man has gone before”…

(ah, therein lies a clue)

And all that space junk hardware, rockets and lasers and wotnots, oh my!

So much more fun (for some) than keeping dolphins and whales happy.

But why aren’t we angrier about this?

I think it’s because everybody, no matter where they are, can SEE space, so maybe that makes the buy-in easier, the universal “sure, endlessly exploring space makes sense” attitude instead of the ocean’s hard sell (because so many people have never even been to an ocean and probably never will). This is what the ocean is up against. It’s simply a LOT more fun to see pictures of Mars,  a place you can actually look at from your chaise lounge on a summer night while having drunken chats with friends about the possibility of living there one day, so much merrier than to look at pictures of seas teeming with pollution WE’VE put there through our stupidity and short-sightedness.

Responsibility is such a downer.

And then there’s the not drunken imaginings part where, in reality, and in the not so distant future, very very very wealthy rich folk will be able to take a ride into space themselves. (Of course the drunken conversations then become about those rich bastards… and lottery ticket sales go up.)

Someone will say that selling space ride tickets to rich people is a money-maker. But does the space program REALLY need your sheckles??? Or, more valuable than that, do they just want to keep you oblivious to the giant waste of money that this kind of farting around actually is…

I don’t mean to suggest putting a stop to the WHOLE space thing, by the way, just the farting around part. If they could ditch that much and use the savings on ocean clean-up, that would be swell.

Public aquariums are beginning to get on board insofar as offering a nod to how deplorable the seas have become with pollution. But they could do so much more. It would be good if pollution was their entire focus at this point. Forget the selfies with rainbow fish. Forget the happy tra la, tra la, of an outing to pretend all is well. Instead, have every aquarium dedicate a proportional amount of space within its walls/tanks equal to how much of the oceans, lakes and waterways are polluted. If the oceans are 70% polluted then 70% of the aquarium’s tanks should be filled with floating garbage. Forget the happy fish and clean water displays. They belong in the history museum.

The oceans need us. And vice versa. It’s the ultimate symbiotic relationship and I cannot believe a space ride beats that in anyone’s mind at this point.

(What can we do besides rant? We can write governments. We can write aquariums too for that matter — not insignificant. And we can stop buying single use plastics… opinions backed by spending habits are powerful.)

Also, we can stop thinking that if all else fails we can move to Mars.


Photos courtesy of the following articles:

A Sea of Debris: Oceans Governance and the Challenge of Plastic Pollution


Our Plastic Ocean

this is not a review: ‘toxin, toxout’, by bruce lourie and rick smith

My intention was to skim through this book (subtitled: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World) as I assumed there wouldn’t be tons of new information, i.e. we pretty much know that chemicals + bodies and/or environment = bad. What I was looking for was not confirmation, or more to grumble about, but some clear and realistic ideas as to what can be done about this noxious issue—not what the purveyors of chemical-laced products should do, but what WE can do. Us. The simple folk. The minions with wallets. The ones who say we care.

Turns out this is precisely what Toxin, Toxout  serves up… a do-able plan for the minions. Along with some eye-opening background as to how and why all that chemical ooze exists in the first place. (Bottom line: we are a species of sheep-like beings that too often chooses cheap and convenient and lots of it) Also clarification on things like the importance of ‘organic’, which is not just to put less crud into our own bodies, but to allow agriculture to work in a way that’s beneficial to a whole chain of events, including environment and economy.

Toxin-Toxout-canadian-cover-e1384688557263I especially liked the conversational tone of the book and that it’s not smothered in stats, nor is there any fear-mongering or the drama of doom and gloom. It’s simply well-researched (a bounty of footnotes and source material provided) and straight-forward in its message: yup, there’s a lot of bad stuff out there but we can make a huge difference by what we choose to buy. Of course corporations and government hope we’ll never figure this out, or believe it…

Best of all, Lourie and Smith remind us that it’s actually possible to improve the world. That WE are not necessarily at the mercy of THEM, nor do we have to wait for THEM to smarten themselves up. WE can begin today  to create change by the purchases we make. And the path to doing this is a simple one. Really, REALLY simple… 

So, no, I didn’t skim. I devoured every page in fact, and am happy to say the book’s info-factor is surpassed only by its offer of serious hope to a seriously growing problem.

Three thumbs up.

Here are some excerpts.

Photos are mine. (Wanted to find a mountain of cell phones but apparently they live in China where they’re sent by the boatload to pollute the air, land and water horribly as they’re broken down and re-shaped into toys and other novelties we don’t need and shipped back to us.)

Another image that’s missing is what’s happening in the oceans with all the plastic.


“I like to describe organic agriculture as the hundred-year diet. It’s a system of agriculture that perpetuates itself, that creates a healthy ecosystem that will in turn continue to support plants in the long term, so you’re not in this deathly cycle of creating short-term nutrients—which then can contribute to pest infestations that need to be counteracted by immediate and short-term chemical pesticides, which then kills the life in the soil, which then requires another synthetic input. Just like we need to give our bodies the right tools and conditions to do their detoxifying jobs, organic tries to enable and facilitate the natural predators and the natural nutrition and micro-flora and fauna that should be in the system.”


“A smartphone is replaced, on average, every 18 months, and by 2015 over a billion smartphones will have been sold world-wide. And they don’t just sell themselves: In 2012 Samsung and Apple spent over three-quarters of a billion dollars on advertising campaigns trying to convince us to buy new ones. How much did they spend dealing with the e-waste from the phones they encouraged people to toss out?”


“The big issue isn’t simply what kinds of stuff we should buy; it’s the fact that we need to buy way less stuff, period.”


“We need to be working on all fronts to stem wasteful production  and consumption. And consumers are part of the equation… the big issue isn’t simply what kinds of stuff we should buy; it’s the fact that we need to buy way less stuff, period. Furthermore, that stuff—whether it’s a car, a soft drink or a smartphone—needs to be regulated by governments, not by the companies who have no interest apart from endless growth in sales. These regulations need to cover what the products contain and how they are disposed of.”


“If there is one simple thing that every human can do to improve environmental conditions, it is to stop buying bottled water.”

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“The rules of the game we’re playing now are best defined by the Malcolm Forbes maxim: “He who dies with the most toys, wins.” We need a different game, with different rules—perhaps “Those who use the least stuff win.” And our economic and regulatory systems need to reinforce that motto with another one—such as this: The more you use, wasted, pollute and discard, the more you’ll lose financially.”