Tuesday, July 16, 2013

For the Beauty of the Earth

I'm currently re-reading Nalini Singh's Psy-Changeling books (I'm on at least my fourth reading of the latest, Heart of Obsidian). In her books she credits the Changelings with saving the earth's environment, while the humans are the ones who produce art and music. In our world, unfortunately, humans are going to have to save the environment--unless the dolphins are ready to take over the job.

There's a lot of news these days about climate change, there's a holiday called Earth Day, and in church I keep hearing about responsible stewardship of the earth (the idea that God gave us dominion over it seems to be out of date). There's talk of the damage to the ozone layer and the garbage patch floating somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. I live in San Francisco, so I'm expected to sort things into recycling, compost, and garbage almost everywhere I go: home, museums, movie theatres, and even McDonald's. (It would be nice if all those places could agree on exactly what constitutes compost and/or recycling, but I suppose it's a work in progress.)

The America's Cup, being held in San Francisco this summer, is deeply concerned not only with the earth but also with the ocean. It has a Healthy Ocean Project and is committed to "Sustainability." My first encounter with their notion of sustainability, as enforced by Security at the entrance to the America's Cup Park on opening day, convinced me that somebody should be committed. There are items that they refer to as "single-use plastic bottles." I have a plastic Coke bottle into which I pour the contents of an aluminum can of Coke before I put it in my tote bag or if I'm using it next to a computer. I spilled soda on a computer keyboard once. That was more than enough. This is most emphatically not a single-use bottle, but the security guard told me I would have to throw it out before I entered the venue. This meant discarding a perfectly good plastic bottle (after I had chugged down its contents) into the unsorted trash can on the city sidewalk outside the venue, from whence it might conceivably migrate to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Then, of course, I needed to buy a new plastic bottle of  Coke on my way home to replace the one he had made me throw away. This did not strike me as ecologically sound at all. Apparently other people felt the same way, because now there are large blue recycling bins at the entrance where you recycle the bottle after they make you give it up. I suppose every little bit of progress helps.

Humanity, however, has a long way to go. I was reminded of this when I stopped at the market on the way home today and saw what the man in front of me was buying: a pack of cigarettes, a bottle of vodka, and a large plastic bottle labelled "Smart Water." As my research tells me that this is filtered tap water with small amounts of minerals (electrolytes) added to improve the taste, I wouldn't call it smart. Now if somebody came up with bottled water that made you smart enough to pay attention to what you were doing to the earth.... I think there may be a story idea there.