Tuesday, March 1, 2005


On February 26, 2005 we spent our lunch time at Crissy Field Beach. Our findings —what we 2 people collected in 90 minutes — were displayed at the Thoreau Center for Sustainability in EcoVisions: Bay Area Artists Exploring Global Ecological Issues curated by the WEAD board.

What you see here is what two people picked up during a ninety minute lunchtime walk. This is not picnic litter, it is what washed ashore on a tiny beach, Crissy Field Beach, in the San Francisco Presidio. 

It is one beach in millions. 
The plastic is just a small part of the 46,000 pieces of visible plastic in every square mile of the ocean. 
That's all the oceans on our plant. 

We have mined the fossil hydrocarbons for heating our houses and workplaces, for driving our planes and trains and automobiles and yet we only vaguely understand that at least 20% of these irreplaceable primordial remnants of Carboniferous fern bogs laid down 300,000,000 million years ago, are being used to make plastic that gets blithely tossed away. Tossed away in such quantity that today in the North Pacific Gyre there is a raft of floating plastic the size of Texas, some even say the size of Brazil. We toss it away, blind to the implications.

What we do know is that if we failing our attempts to stop this mad rush to use it all up, industrialized, information driven civilization will never rise up again. The Bronze Age was founded on metal easily mined with minimal effort, picked up off the ground, in fact. The Petroleum Age jump started with plentiful oil seeping out of the ground. Oil production has reached it's peak and though we still have half the amount we started with, it is only reachable by powerful infrastructure driven by oil itself. In other words, every drop of oil we extract now is twice as hard to get as it was 10 years ago and it will be twice as hard as that ten years from now. In other words, if we blow it this time, there will be no second chance. An industrial civilization will never again rise from "scratch."

What to do?

We are in charge, we can re-dream the system, using the most powerful force on the planet, the human imagination. We are all cousins in the vast dysfunctional family spending our children's birthright to natural resources. There is no "they' who will solve the problem. Each individual has deep power to find solutions.