More people are starting to look at what we’ve done to this planet, especially since the birth of the technological revolution. Our oceans have been suffering for a very long time, enduring countless oil spills and the daily dumping of toxic waste. Despite having numerous ways to operate in a fashion that is more harmonious with the planet, we continue to choose to destroy our planet at every turn, and we simply can’t afford to do that anymore. Fortunately, people are starting to wake up and realize that we really do need to look at, question, and change the way we operate here on planet Earth. It is this shift in perception alone that will springboard us toward change, helping us to establish a new experience for ourselves and for the other beings we share this planet with.
As if to signal the direness of the ocean’s plight, whales have been showing up dead on multiple beaches, bringing us a message with stomachs full of plastic. For example, in July 2013, a sperm whale was stranded on Tershelling, an island in the Netherlands. The whale had swallowed 56 different plastic items that totalled over 37 pounds. In April 2010, a grey whale died after stranding itself on a West Seattle beach; it was found to have over 20 plastic bags, small towels, surgical gloves, plastic pieces, duct tape, and more in its system. And in March 2013, a dead sperm whale, who had swallowed 17kg of plastic waste, washed up on Spain’s South coast.
The list goes on and on. Keep in mind, these are only the whales who choose to beach themselves or have washed up on shore; there are surely countless other whales and marine animals suffering the same fate, unbeknownst to us.
Unfortunately, these beachings are not uncommon events. In 1989 a stranded sperm whale in the Lavezzi Islands died of a stomach obstruction after accidentally ingesting plastic bags and 100 feet of plastic sheeting. A paper published in 1990 reports that a sperm whale in Iceland died due to a complete obstruction of the gut with plastic marine debris. In August 2008, a sperm whale washed up dead on the beach near Point Reyes, California, with 450 pounds of fishing net, plastic bags, and rope in its stomach (see picture to the left). In 2008, the California Marine Mammal Stranding Database recorded another sperm whale with enormous amounts of plastic and fish netting in its stomach.
I’ll stop there, as there are countless examples.
The effects of our plastic consumption are becoming more and more visible. By now, you’ve probably heard of “The Great Garbage Patch,” an area the size of Queensland, Australia, where there is approximately 1 million tonnes of plastic congregated in the ocean. Drag a net in any area of this part of the ocean and you will pick up discarded plastic. We’ve shown this video before, but here it is again, just in case you missed it.
After the Fukushima disaster and the famous Gulf oil spill in 2004 (and who knows how many more catastrophes that have gone unreported), I’m surprised there is anything living left in our oceans. These events, and the many more like them, should motivate us all to break out of our daily routines for a minute, to stop and say “No more.” The world should not continue forward and people should not go to work — this is more important than the daily grind. We need to come together and create change now, because our window of opportunity to do so is getting smaller and smaller. These events should really serve as triggers for us to wake up and change our ways.
A mass collective desire to change these things is what has and what will put the human race on a journey to do so. It’s time to educate ourselves about what is really happening on the planet and bring awareness to the most important issues we must tackle today. This is why alternative media outlets are so important — they bring awareness and shed light on what corporate media hardly covers.
Our planet is calling on us to change our ways, and the change starts with you. Toxic industrial practices must cease. New, clean, green technology is available and we could easily replace all of these plastics with hemp and other biodegradable materials. We have so many solutions, yet we do not implement them.
I want to provide solutions to this problem, but it’s hard to come up with them other than making changes in your own lives. But remember that there are people out there working for our common good, like this 19-year-old boy, who developed a cleanup array that could remove over 7 million tonnes of plastic from our oceans.
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