Tuesday, January 13, 2009


The other day, a parent polluted the ocean as a means of breaking their child's bad habit. I'm purposely being vague as I don't want to villify anyone, but I think their situation illustrates an important issue; what we do matters and, unlike previous generations, we will be around when our actions bear their ruinous fruit.

Unless something changes, by 2048 the fish populations of the ocean will collapse by 90%. On top of that, there is currently a marked decline in the population of phytoplankton. In case, unlike me, you aren't a wannabe marine biologist, phytoplankton is the base of the ocean's food pyramid. They are the alpha and omega of the ocean's food chain, without them the entire oceanic ecosystem will suffer. Between these two facts, you basically have an extinction level event in the oceans in our lifetime.

Yes, our lifetime. Lucky us, we're the generation that gets to see the outcome of decades of economic and industrial--not to mention our own individual-- choices. We no longer live on a planet that will absorb the consequences of our actions until we are long gone. The piper will come for payment before we are in our dotage. For parents, this is especially difficult because, not only do we know the problematic future our children face, we are going to have to answer their 'whys' about the situation.

I want to be able to look my daughter in the eye and honestly say I did everything possible to keep the oceans from dying, that I did my part to make her future bright. So reading that another parent made a different choice, well, it made me wince. I had to take deep breaths. I had to remind myself that, in the grand scheme of world pollution, what they did wasn't really a big deal.

But I wonder what they will tell their children in 2048.

It is so easy to let inertia take over. To put off the trip to Home Depot or Target or some other store to pick up the inexpensive items that save energy and conserve water. We can always turn down the thermostat tomorrow or the next day or next year. Next thing you know, you've done nothing and your children or your grandchildren or the neighbor's kids are looking up to you and asking you 'Why?'

What will you tell them?

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