The Pacific Ocean has become the world’s biggest trash dump containing a mass of floating plastic waste that extends down 30 feet and is twice the size of the continental United States. (The Independent UK, 2/6/08)
· “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.”
· “Every little piece of plastic manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out there somewhere,”--Tony Andrady, a chemist with the US-based Research Triangle Institute
Turning our oceans into trash dumps is not only tacky; it is deadly to living things:
· “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.”
If you don’t happen to care about marine life, Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, warns that this debris poses a human health risk too; because of the hundreds of millions of tiny plastic pellets (nurdles--used in the plastic industry) that have ended up in the sea. These act as chemical sponges, attracting various man-made chemicals, hydrocarbons and DDT. They are eaten by sea animals.
· “What goes into the ocean goes into these animals and onto your dinner plate. It’s that simple.”
After George W. Bush’s wars and policies have caused the price of oil to reach the $100 per barrel mark, he is once again calling for opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to oil exploration. That is not the answer to our energy problems.
· “[The U.S. possesses] 2.8 percent of the world's proven oil reserves, according to the U.S. Geological Survey, yet we consume 25 percent of the world's total production. Does that condemn us to dependency on foreign oil? You do the math.”-- Jim Scarantino, Republicans for Environmental Protection, Apr 2001
· “…By even the most inflated estimates ...[ANWR] holds less than a year's worth of oil for America -- probably much less. All sorts of efforts -- including voluntary ones by the public -- could do more to free us from reliance on foreign oil.”-- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 3/25/03
The Bush Administration’s standard argument for why we need to open up ANWR and other fragile coastal and offshore areas to oil exploration--is so we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil. If that is the case, why are they selling the oil drilling rights to foreign companies?
· “Oil major Royal Dutch Shell bid $105.3 million for a single exploration block in the U.S. government's sale of drilling rights in federal waters of the Chukchi Sea off Alaska's northwestern coast, the highest dollar amount offered for a single tract in a record-breaking offshore lease sale...”--Reuters, 2/6/08