“But water also defines quite well our problems in moving from a world of apparently plentiful resources – a world in which if we screw up we can move on – to a world of finite resources, where we have to manage carefully to get by. We still often see water as an essentially free and unlimited resource. But it isn’t. The public policy response to water shortages is still to build a new dam or sink a new well, with little regard for the thought that there may be no more water in the river to be captured, or underground to be pumped. Apart from the air we breathe, water is the most basic, most urgent, need that we all have. We can survive for a while without food, but not without water. We can survive forever without oil – but not without water. Water has no substitute.”
“Getting nations to cooperate is important, but I think a quicker solution will come from what I call a carbon tax break. This involves taxing pollution at its source, whether it is generated by an oil company or a coal burning energy plant. The money raised by this carbon tax would be distributed to citizens who would then use it to purchase energy. Since gas or coal-produced energy which emit high levels of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere would be highly taxed and thus more expensive, people would naturally buy the cheaper, and lower carbon emitting, forms of energy.”
Meanwhile, every billion dollars spent on the supremely misguided attempt to revivify the nuclear industry is a theft from the production of cheap renewable electricity. Think what these billions could do if invested in the development of wind power, solar power, cogeneration, geothermal energy, biomass, and tidal and wave power, let alone basic energy conservation, which itself could save the United States 20% of the electricity it currently consumes.
I knew it occurred every Autumn. And every Autumn I intended to go. And after many trials and as many errors, I finally made it one August. It was the festival of the earth.
Last year Macro-Sea conceived of the Dumpster Pool. The designers constructed what they call a “lo-fi country club” in a trash-filled lot in Brooklyn. The mini oasis consisted of three adjacent swimming pools made out of repurposed dumpsters.
Shocking and heartbreaking, Food, Inc. gives us those nitty-gritty details of how a tomato is grown or how a chicken is raised. It reveals that every step of the process from farm to factory to functional product is not as scrupulously regulated as government organizations like the USDA and the FDA would have you believe. According to Pollan, “the industrial food system is always looking for greater efficiency. But each new step in efficiency leads to problems.”
But Pearce knows more fundamental rethinking will be necessary to keep our species going. “The worst twentieth-century crime of urban planners was to design cities around cars.” We have to transform cityscapes “to make the car … irrelevant,” he writes. “We simply have to give up flying as much as possible.” He thinks the dangers of nuclear power have been “overblown,” and admits coal may be necessary to tide us over, if we can effectively bury its emissions.
‘Can there have been any more inspiring vision this century than that of the Earth from space?’ exclaimed Lovelock, looking back. ‘We saw for the first time what a gem of a planet we live on. The astronauts who saw the whole Earth from Apollo 8 gave us an icon that has become as powerful as the scimitar or the cross.’
“So the bigger conclusion is that we have soaked our landscape in toxic chemicals, many of which can interact to form even more toxic compounds, and there is absolutely no regulation or testing of this mixing. Most beekeepers and researchers I’ve spoken with believe pesticides are one factor, working in conjunction with introduced parasites, viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and quite possibly with deteriorating living conditions for bees. Bees could handle one or two of these stressors, but not all of them.”
Aside from providing an easily assimilated scientific and historical overview, The Gulf Stream describes and mammoth natural system that helps drive the living organism that is earth. In these regards Ulanski has done his job as a writer.
“But after watching environmentalists blatantly engage in greenwashing for their corporate sponsors, I can tell you that once a group takes money from a corporation and comes to rely on the continued flow of those dollars to run programs and pay salaries, it loses its ability to be a critic and a watchdog. One high-ranking environmentalist once told me he shies away from seeking corporate funds because corporate executives ‘tend to want to buy you up first and talk about conservation later.’ I think that is largely the norm.”
All of this pales in comparison to the obscene madness that has now become the fate of Base Camp at Mount Everest. The 8,000-meter peaks of the Himalayas have become the unfortunate repositories for what is repugnant about human nature with very little innate goodness surviving. Dying climbers pushed aside, ignored and denied medical help while their equipment is stolen, greedy guides unethical to the point of criminal, drugs, alcoholism, prostitution – hell this could just as well be inner city New York or Saigon as 20,000 feet above sea level in what used to be one of the most remote landscapes on earth. Everest has become the poster child for this debauchery.
The North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, informally known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, is a span of ocean between California and Hawaii the size of Texas, where floats a Sargasso Sea of trash consisting of 90 percent plastic.
“I think hunters need to start demanding more research into the human health impacts of hunting with lead bullets. Saving condors may benefit us more than we ever imagined.”
Are environmentalists really prepared to embrace a simpler, less materialistic life? Or do they still want all the stuff but in a more efficient way?