Friday, April 4, 2008

Oceans, Play grounds or dump grounds

Now that the weather has warmed up here in south west France I have gone back to taking a cup of coffee onto the terrace after breakfast and sitting for a few moments and enjoying the garden.

This morning was no exception and donning my sunglasses, I settled into my favourite chair. I had only been there a minute or two when a pair of red squirrels emerged from the chestnut tree and played on the grass not 5m (15ft) from me. They seemed happy and totally oblivious to my presence and I enjoyed both their antics and my coffee.

They darted up the tree and back down, across the grass and back to the tree and then they both took off across the vegetable patch and started to play further down the garden at the edge of the orchard.. They were up and down the cherry tree, a plum tree and a big old cypress, often leaping from the branch of one tree down onto a lower branch of the next.

This was the first time I had seen our resident squirrels this year and I was happy that they had survived the winter unscathed. They played on beyond my coffee time and eventually I left them in the garden, playing, and came back indoors to continue my day.
I wanted to drop into a blog I read regularly from southern Australia, written by my friend Kate:

As I watched my 2 squirrels out of the window I read an horrific account of a green turtle hatchling , only 6cms long (2.5 inches) being killed by plastic marine rubbish, off Queensland, Australia. The piece of plastic that killed the hatchling was only about half the size of a fingernail.
Read the full article here:
Apparently, sea turtles are particularly susceptible to the effects of marine rubbish and die a slow and painful death

These two events happened half a world apart. It would have been easy to say, ok here in France my squirrels are doing fine. But plastic thrown into the sea in Queensland may well kill our marine life here, off the coast of France, and equally, our debris, jettisoned into the Atlantic, may have been the cause of this tragedy in Australia.

More and more leisure time, coupled with an increase in leisure spending is resulting in ever increasing numbers of people taking to the seas for their leisure activities. Those activities might be sailing solo or as a passenger on one of the new super cruise ships. However, every one of those people must take a stand and stop allowing the seas and oceans to continue to be used as a planetary waste dump.

The Independent, a UK national newspaper, reported back in February: ""A "plastic soup" of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United States, scientists have said.
The vast expanse of debris – in effect the world's largest rubbish dump – is held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.""

I quote from the same report: ""According to the UN Environment Programme, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals. Syringes, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have been found inside the stomachs of dead seabirds, which mistake them for food.""

A million seabirds, a 100,000 marine mammals, a rubbish dump twice the size of continental United States,. When will this stupid selfishness stop?

1 comment:

Kate said...

Dreadful stuff, Ian and so unnecessary. Imagine the outrage if just 1 child died of ingesting plastic...Why do we let it happen to so many of those beautiful, innocent creatures living peacefully in our oceans?
I love your other posts - you paint lovely word pictures!