Can Humans Change The Planet? Ocean Captain Says The Oceans Now Changed In An “Extremely Ugly” Way

One of the choruses that is heard from the pro-pollution, anti-science climate change deniers is that people can’t possibly be powerful enough to impact our planet’s climate system.  This is a curious belief, in light of the clear evidence of the destruction that humanity can – and does – wreak wherever people congregate (i.e. releasing rabbits in Australia, the zebra mussel infestation in Canadian waters), and particularly since the acid rain and ozone layer environmental crises.

But as Captain Charles Moore, in this National Geographic special, observes  “People don’t take suggestions, they respond to crisis“.  He goes on to say

One of the things that bothers me about the present environmental crisis that we face is the callous way the adult population thinks about what we are leaving for our heirs.  And what we are leaving is a big mess.”

Captain Moore has noted that, in some places in the North Pacific, there is so much trash that it is now hazardous to navigate in some places.


For the sake of our children, we all need to start asking ourselves  the question “Where is away?” when it comes to our garbage.  It turns out, there is no such thing as “away” – there is just delayed reckoning when it comes to throwaway, non-biodegradable stuff. As Captain Moore points out, all that plastic in the oceans is a visible symbol of our excesses. It’s time for a shift in our thinking and our habits.

More links:

Plastic Pollution

Roz Savage, Ocean Rower: Stop Drifting, Start Rowing

0 thoughts on “Can Humans Change The Planet? Ocean Captain Says The Oceans Now Changed In An “Extremely Ugly” Way”

  1. it’s obvious to me that no one cares.. or, people are blinded by the easy, thoughtless, throw away consumer culture we have become addicted to, to actually think about their own actions. Look around, the highways are full, the shopping malls are teaming with brainless consumers bargain hunting for crap they mostly don’t need, our homes are bursting at the studs with all that crap while new marketing geniuses are being born everyday to keep the masses shopping and the economic circus traveling.. try to live a conscious existence and you are instantly outcast, and labeled as a left wing pinko threat or just a freak! I have little faith for a change in behaviour, and only see more absurdity as the east scrambles to adopt our wasteful, dumb and thoughtless ways. And another opinion from a scientist, mariner, journalist politician or anyone else is not going to change that any time soon and in my opinion only adds to the waste…

    i don’t know about the effects of this existence, but i do know that i was not put on this planet to shop for crap and then throw half of it into the garbage, eat food grown in countries i’ve never heard of, drive endless distances to be a wheel in the cog, fly through the air in a metal tube or spend even one minute in a mall surrounded by fashionable zombies and thoughtless consuming machines.

    • Francis: I love your comment!

      So much of our time is wasted wandering around these malls. How many kids do you see in the malls these days doing little except texting each other? Surely they could be doing something more productive with their time and energy.

      And when we buy something, what is it wrapped in? Plastic…sometimes soft plastic, sometimes hard plastic.

      Just yesterday I opened a package of 6 CFL’s. It was packaged in that very stiff, clear plastic. I paid particular attention to the size of the package. One half contained the light bulbs, the other half was nothing but a flat pack completely wasting plastic and space. Since I only used one light bulb so far, I kept the information and plan on sending a letter to the company pointing out the waste that occurs with just this one tiny example of consumer mis-packaging.

      And you have it right on the money as far as being an outcast goes!

      You would be amazed at the visitors we get marveling at our lifestyle here. Yet, when they leave here, it seems that they cannot wait to get back to their same old wasteful ways. There are no roads here, no street lights, heck – there aren’t even any streets. No municipal water supply, no garbage pickup, no electrical supply, no sewer lines…nothing. Whatever we need we do for ourselves.

      So it’s solar power for us, we grow as much of our food as we can and so on.

      My wife still gets annoyed with me when we are grocery shopping. I still need to remind her to look at the packaging from time to time.

      The less plastic we consume, the better. If it cannot be re-cycled then we don’t want it. It’s just that simple for us. If the manufacturer wants us to buy their product, then they can learn how to package it in a more environmentally friendly fashion.

      About a month ago, I walked around the bay here to check for pieces of plastic which might have washed in. I must admit I was very surprised to find only one small piece in about a kilometer of beach.

  2. Keith, where do you live?.. sounds idilic… i left a career and 2 bustling cities behind for a simple life in rural N.S., but found that even the most out of the way places are not free from the madness, and in many ways the mentality is even worse in small hamlets.. I also have a small downtown home in St. John’s that actually has a smaller environmental footprint than the cabin on well water and outhouse. I am not sure if the carless, walk to groceries and other amenities, electrically heated, border subsidized, and socially crowded city life may not be a better option.. but it makes me so miserable….

    Sometimes i think the rural life just makes the madness less glaring but not necessarily less harmful.

    • Hi Keith and Francis –
      I agree that it is very important to live a life of integrity, and it can be frustrating to look around and see what other people are doing (or not doing) when the environmental problems seem so obvious to you and me. However, I do find that most people are not evil, they are working hard to get by – many people are dealing with issues that we on the outside have absolutely no idea about.
      What I feel is more helpful than sitting in judgment of other people, however tempting it is, is to work to change the system to make it easy to make sustainable choices. Like smoking, which in the last few decades has become socially unacceptable in most circles (in North America, at least – Europe is a completely different ballgame), the same will be true of making unsustainable choices in a few decades.
      (BTW in my experience people don’t usually respond well to being criticized, however well intentioned. Living joyfully while making sustainable choices can inspire other people, though – it sounds like that’s what Keith and his wife are doing on their island paradise)

    • BTW, Francis, Newfoundland is one of my most favourite places on earth. We’ve visited it twice, and I’d love to go back again. Do you recognize the header photo? It was taken at Western Brook Pond.

      • i don’t recognize the photo, but i assumed it’s either NFLD or somewhere in Norway maybe..

        yes visiting is wonderful, but living in Nfld can be a different kettle of fish. I used to visit yearly and marvel at the pristine , and surreal beauty, mostly uninhabited and serene.. But spend some time here, and you will learn a few surprising facts. Not to get into it, but the environmental footprint per capita is atrocious, and i wont begin to go on about the impact of natural resource exploitation coupled with the government led decimation of the renewable fishing industry that was the history and lifeblood of the island. Recently, the expansion of tourism is adding to more waste in pursuit of income and tax base. Can’t blame people for wanting a job, but i used to think the people here had better sense than to get caught up in the trappings of unfettered growth, that assumption has changed. (on a personal note), now i think i assume too much.

        always enjoy reading your site, keep up the good work.
        francis, (a disgruntled, old fashioned curmudgeon:)


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