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May 21, 2013


Water, water all around, and not a drop to drink! – lamented the poet. We are all acquainted with water as a necessity for life and water in death dealing storms as exemplified by poems such as The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and The Wreck of the Schooner Hesperus, respectively, and we are even better acquainted with more recent disasters involving water in tsunamis in Indonesia and Japan. Our eastern seaboard recently suffered enormous damage from this element as well in the “storm of the century.”

Water is at one and the same time a blessing and a potential curse, but always necessary to life itself. It is the subject of range wars in the West, lawsuits involving upstream and downstream riparian rights, and dry riverbeds on occasion at the mouths of the Colorado and Rio Grande Rivers, where little if any water makes it all the way to the sea. Dams and agriculture are routinely blamed for such shortfalls, and with considerable justification. It’s a real world, and Southwest underground reserves of water are exhausted, so it is no surprise that competing agricultural and Southwestern municipalities and other such interests are in a perpetual stew over “water rights” allocations to draw from creeks and rivers that are anywhere in or near their spheres of interest, whether water for Arizona cities or for big agriculture in the Imperial Valley of California.

Pacific is a Latin derivative for peaceful, hence the Pacific Ocean was so-named since its waters were regarded as peaceful by those who named it. (Parenthetically, many others and I had experiences in 1944 and 1945 in the southern portion of that ocean that were anything but “peaceful.”)

Fast forward to 2013 – The “Pacific” Ocean has become a cesspool, a garbage dump of (especially) plastic and other such human wastes that cover hundreds of square miles in the central portion of that sea, a vast churning aggregation of nasty stuff we humans have consigned to the sea in a kind of “out of sight, out of mind” exercise. There are environmental consequences to that great whirlpool, particularly when it is being added to every hour of every day.

One study showed that small fish mistake small bits of plastic as subjects for ingestion, eat them, and as such small fish are eaten by progressively bigger fish (fish we catch and eat), we humans may be eating plastic or its effects on the (larger) fish we ate, and with unknown consequences to our own health. (Santa Barbara oil spills and Japanese nuclear disasters didn’t help, either, and I have (to date) read of no tests for radiation in this vast and developing environmental disaster in the Central Pacific.

It may fairly be asked how much the Pacific can endure before its contribution to the global ecosystem turns negative. It’s not a big deal, you say? Then consider this – Oceans produce more oxygen than rainforests, and the Pacific Ocean is by far the largest body of water on Planet Earth. That, in my opinion, does make it a very big deal, especially with reductions in oxygen-producing rainforests in Brazil, New Guinea, and elsewhere due to geometric increases in human population, clearing for agricultural purposes, commercial exploitation etc.

I think that we need to protect any and all sources of oxygen production, especially with carbon dioxide at over 400 ppm (and climbing) in our atmosphere as reported just a few weeks ago. I think that we are doing enough damage to our atmosphere with our carbon-burning, and that our countenancing of such a continuing and rapidly increasing destruction of an offsetting source of oxygen in the Central Pacific in this lethal brew we call “our atmosphere” can only be termed irrational.

It is not enough to merely reduce carbon burning; I think we have to protect and preserve any other system or sub-system that promises to reduce the 400 plus ppm reading we are currently enduring. Perhaps countries with coastlines could engage in an environmental treaty whose terms would stop or at least slow the degradation of our planet’s oceans as well as its atmosphere. We need to attack global warming with every weapon at our disposal, and we need to identify every such weapon, determine its relative effectiveness, and aggressively go to work on this disaster in the making – global warming.

I am a lawyer, not an environmental engineer. Perhaps what I am here suggesting is old hat to those in the business; perhaps it is not even germane to their current efforts. Nevertheless, I here offer the foregoing as a concerned citizen, and urge those who know more than I to recognize that there are lay people such as I who support their efforts and want them to work on solutions, and if addition of oxygen to the atmosphere can be more effectively done through ways and means I do not understand, then go for it.

If there was ever a problem in human history that demanded solution, global warming is it. We need science and not politics/greed to manage our human response to this gathering catastrophe, and we need to provide the resources and encouragement to science in their mission to save our planet. Can there be anything more important than that (i.e., Wall Street returns, who wins elections etc.)?

Not in my book.  GERALD  E

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