“In March of this year, a 10 meter long sperm whale washed up on Spain’s South Coast. This whale had swallowed 59 different plastic items totaling over 37 pounds. Most of this plastic consisted of transparent sheeting used to build greenhouses in Almeria and Grenada for the purpose of tomatoes for the European market. The rest was plastic bags, nine meters of rope, two stretches of hosepipe, two small flower pots, and a plastic spray canister. Cause of death was intestinal blockage. These are not uncommon incidents. In 1989, a stranded sperm whale in the Lavezzi Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea died of a stomach obstruction after accidentally ingesting plastic bags and 100 feet of plastic sheeting. In 1990, a sperm whale examined for pathology in Iceland died of an obstruction of the gut with plastic marine debris. In August of 2008, a sperm whale washed up in Point Reyes, California with 450 pounds of fishing net, rope, and plastic bags in its stomach. The California Marine Mammal Stranding Database tells of another sperm whale stranded in 2008 with stomach contents that included an extensive amount of netting from discarded fishing gear. …
Whales are not the only victims to our trash. It is estimated that over one million birds and 100,000 marine mammals die each year from plastic debris.”
Washed Up, a photo series by Alejandro Durán who has created color-based sculptures by collecting plastic detritus washed ashore from forty-two countries onto the shores of Sian Ka’an, Mexico’s largest federally-protected reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the world’s second largest coastal barrier reef.
“My public statements about jury nullification were not the only political statements that Mr. Huber thinks I should be punished for. As the government’s memorandum points out, I have also made public statements about the value of civil disobedience in bringing the rule of law closer to our shared sense of justice. In fact, I have openly and explicitly called for nonviolent civil disobedience against mountaintop removal coal mining in my home state of West Virginia. Mountaintop removal is itself an illegal activity, which has always been in violation of the Clean Water Act, and it is an illegal activity that kills people. A West Virginia state investigation found that Massey Energy had been cited with 62,923 violations of the law in the ten years preceding the disaster that killed 29 people last year. The investigation also revealed that Massey paid for almost none of those violations because the company provided millions of dollars worth of campaign contributions that elected most of the appeals court judges in the state. When I was growing up in West Virginia, my mother was one of many who pursued every legal avenue for making the coal industry follow the law. She commented at hearings, wrote petitions and filed lawsuits, and many have continued to do ever since, to no avail. I actually have great respect for the rule of law, because I see what happens when it doesn’t exist, as is the case with the fossil fuel industry. Those crimes committed by Massey Energy led not only to the deaths of their own workers, but to the deaths of countless local residents, such as Joshua McCormick, who died of kidney cancer at age 22 because he was unlucky enough to live downstream from a coal mine. When a corrupted government is no longer willing to uphold the rule of law, I advocate that citizens step up to that responsibility.”
Tim DeChristopher: “This Is What Hope Looks Like”
askjerves: Everyone should read Tim DeChristopher’s pre-sentencing comments (through that link to Yes! Magazine above). And then everyone who’s outraged should do something. Something with more impact than reblogging or signing an e-petition. Like getting loud or maybe getting arrested. We’re losing to the greedy rich who simply don’t care about the health of most humans, or the well-being of future generations. We’re losing because we’re complacent. One guy goes and does something heroic, and a lot of us clap our hands and nod approvingly and like and reblog, but, so far, very few others are following suit, or doing anything else that might compromise our own comfortable lives.
I interviewed DeChristopher last year, and one thing he said really stuck with me. He said:
You know how Gandhi said you have to “be the change you want to see in the world.” Well the change that most of us wish to see is a carbon tax, but our leaders aren’t doing that for us, so Gandhi’s call is then for us to be the carbon tax. What does that mean—to “be the carbon tax?” To cost the fossil fuel industry money in any way that we can. Getting in their way, slowing them down, shutting them down. Doing whatever we can to be that tax. It forces our leaders to make a choice—to either be more explicit in their war on the young generation, to to get serious about stopping climate change.
So what to do? My friend and mentor Bill wrote this today, about DeChristopher and a mass action planned for DC in late August.
And it’s time for you to take the same kind of responsibility. In a few weeks, those of us at tarsandsaction.org will be gathering in Washington DC for two weeks of civil disobedience against the proposed Keystone Pipeline, that will carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta down to the Gulf of Mexico. Jim Hansen, the NASA climatologist, says that if those tar sands are fully exploited it’s “essentially game over for the climate.” If those words don’t inspire you to act, nothing will — and so far more than a thousand have signed on, meaning this will be the largest civil disobedience action in the history of the country’s climate movement.
This action won’t be as risky as Tim’s. People are signing up to come to DC for three days. On the first they’ll attend nonviolence training, and on the second they’ll sit down in front of the White House. No one knows for sure how the police will react, but the legal experts say jail time will likely be measured in hours, not years. Still, it’s a very real way to say to President Obama (who will make the Keystone decision all by himself) that this is the great moral issue of our time.
Time to get serious.
An Indonesian artist, Fanny Octavianus, placed a picture of a man swimming on a polluted river in Jakarta as a protest of the river’s condition on the city’s 484th anniversary. (Beawiharta/Reuters)
Mitch Epstein: 2011 Prix Pictet winner for American Power
"I had seen firsthand the grave results of fossil fuel production on human life and our ecosystem. To further examine the role of energy in the United States, I embarked on a five-year long, 25-state project called American Power. I photographed a consumerist society inured to the consequences of unbridled consumption. Many living in the shadows of power plants despaired their polluted water and air, but did not have the economic resources to relocate. Growth no longer meant progress but self-destruction."
More Prix Pictet. More Mitch Epstein.