On Being Green

Oil Spill, Gulf of Mexico (NASA, International...

Oil Spill Gulf of Mexico, by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via Flickr

I was inspired by Eliz’s piece on all of us doing our part collectively for the sake of the earth we live in, and how easy it is, really, to do all these things, if we maintain our mindfulness.

We started out as a family with young children in our household years ago while living in Toronto, doing the small changes in our daily habits, little by little.  We reused our paper and plastic bags. We rinsed our drinks bottles and placed them in recycle bins.  Yes, we were provided with color-coded bins to place our trash back in the late 80’s.  We drank the tap water.  After all, most urban neighborhoods in the big cities of North America still have good quality water for drinking. We reused some of our water, for watering plants, when possible. And we refrained from many things disposable, as much as possible, without compromising health, sanitation, safety.

I still can remember the times when, while driving on either Hwy 880 or 101, my car is in proximity to another car, where the passenger rolls down the car window and just casually tosses out food and drinks containers onto the highway and the on-coming traffic too!  I’ve borne witness to this more than once or twice, which is often enough.  I have always been too dumbfounded at the ignorance, the unconscionable behavior, the pure and total disregard for other people and the environment.  The highway is many things but a garbage dump it is not!

We are all very bothered by the recent environmental catastrophes that seemed to have come one after the other.  I was listening to Ira Flatow’s Science Friday show recently.  He was interviewing Professor Julian Eastoe from the School of Chemistry in the University of Bristol, in the UK.  Prof. Eastoe was quite excited about an iron-containing soap he and his team have developed recently.  This discovery is still in the works and definitely not yet ready for commercial application, he qualified.  But one application he provided was the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico when massive gallons of oil were inadvertently spilled into the Gulf, killing natural species and destroying the habitat for many years to come.  One solution was to apply dispersants to break up the oil and bind them, but this has resulted in the particles settling on the ocean floor.  It will take generations for these to be broken down and render the ocean safe again for living organisms.

But, what if all this muck can bind to iron-containing soap and they could be collected using powerful magnets, Prof. Eastoe proposed?  That could be quite the breakthrough!

I marvel at people who never tire of finding solutions to challenges like these.  I applaud these chemists for their painstaking efforts.  What I deplore are some of our politicians who, in the face of all the evidence, still choose to believe the big business lobbyists’ self-deceptions.  I remember excitedly going through a November 2010 issue of The New Yorker magazine for the Thanksgiving Food features.  I came across one of the topics in “The Talk of the Town” entitled “Uncomfortable Climate” where various members of the Republican Party were quoted on their list of activities:  Their need to re-investigate climate change researchers for fraud and data manipulation in spite of three separate “Climategate” inquiries that the accusations were unfounded.  Then there was the invocation of God and the Bible (Genesis 8:22) by another Republican with regards the idea that Carbon Dioxide is a carcinogen and the dangers of climate change.  The same person issued an apology, by the way, to the then CEO of BP for what he said was harsh treatment by the current administration on the oil spill.  And yet, in the elections for that year, this bunch has taken over the House!  Heaven help us!

I’m relieved to live in California where the environment is a priority, especially in the Bay Area.  We rank No. 1 the Green City Index!  I know many regulations can be a pain in the neck when you’re doing business or even just building a shed in your yard.  But, really, it’s probably worth all the effort for the long-term.  I like to plan for the long-term.  Unfortunately, delayed gratification, is not for the let’s-get-rich-quick or wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am mentalities.

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3 Responses to On Being Green

  1. eof737 says:

    Thank you for the mention… I love the Bay Area for the reason you mentioned. The rest of the world needs to catch up… 🙂

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  2. auntyuta says:

    Yes, thanks for sharing, Mary-Ann. Recycling is very advanced in the area I live in. And we have good quality tap-water. However I spend a little bit of money buying spring-water which hopefully has no fluoride added to it!
    It’s interesting what iron containing soap supposedly might be good for. Yes, it is amazing that there are always people around who work at coming up with solutions.
    Let’s hope many more states are going to follow the example of California. I too like the plan for the long term. It’s really a priority to think of future generations. If we don’t do this our lives have been in vain.

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  3. What an inspiration. Going green is a commitment, its a lifestyle change fueled by the love for nature and for thinking of the next generation. It’s a selfless act that a lot of people can learn from. Thanks for sharing….

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