California Water Watch

Ideas about our water emergency from different perspectives

Like ships passing in the night

Disasters come and go like ships passing in the night. The factors at play? Too many low-brow or unimportant news stories take precidence and too many disasters are happening. We’re becoming either ignorant or immune or both.

I found out today that one of New Zealand’s biggest natural disasters happened just recently, in October of last year. It was human carelessness, avoidable, and the captain and his second mate are both in prison for mishandling their ship Rena and causing the biggest oil slick and container ship spill in the area’s history.

Prison time won’t make North Island’s Bay of Plenty pristine once more. It can’t be taken back. At least volunteers rallied.

We can come and go in our daily lives without even knowing about events like this, but as global consumers it is something with which we are connected, whether we acknowledge it or not. I was shocked that something as big as this could have passed me by so easily.

What can I do about it? Well, I can pick up more trash on my dog walks, especially when we walk on shoreline or around the nearby lakes and reservoirs. If there’s shoreline near you, chances are that shoreline needs some love, even if it didn’t suffer from a container ship spill.

Volunteer for clean-up days and keep a general rule that if you see trash where it doesn’t belong, pick it up. It’ll go somewhere after you’ve seen it there – but you decide where. You can cause it to go in a safer place, a place where it won’t cause harm to living creatures. It is in your charge once you’ve seen something – I guess that’s why it is easier to keep those blindfolds on – but resist the urge. Make a point to resist the urge. You’re friends will still love you even if you’re “on it” when it comes to this stuff. And they’ll probably come with you if you invite them to California Coastal Clean-up Day on September 15th, 2012,or to a Shoreline Clean-up you arranged with your city. Many offer Adopt-a-Shoreline programs like this one in the City of Berkeley, and you can clean up the shoreline any time of year. There are also shoreline clean-ups and other easy ways to help with Bay Keeper, Save the Bay, and at the SF Estuary and the associated Institute.

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