A blog from Plastiki crew member and TreeHugger founder, Graham Hill. This piece was originally written for the Huffington Post.
It’s about a week into the Kiribati to Fiji or New Caledonia or wherever we end up being able to make it to on this side-slipping, 60 foot raft made from recyclable plastic and 12,500 reclaimed water bottles dubbed the Plastiki. And I’m suspicious. Day in, day out it feels like the exact same scene: a 360 degree view to the horizon consisting of big dark waves, the odd bird or flying fish and nary a boat, island or anything else of interest. Is this Groundhog Day? The Truman Show II? Because the Pacific is seemingly endless and I feel like I’m on a movie set. It just goes on and on and on.
Fresh from TED Oceans’ Mission Blue conference in the Galapagos and overhearing a multitude of interviews daily that David de Rothschild is giving to the likes of CNN, Oprah, TreeHugger and many more via our speedy Inmarsat connection, the question of why we’ve destroyed our oceans has been top of mind.
How are these two thoughts related? Well…I now get it. I now understand viscerally how we got to this point. I can see how we’d not have been concerned about polluting our oceans. Why? Because they feel impossibly gigantic! It’s almost inconceivable to think that something so large and so deep could be affected by us humans. You can literally sail for days on end and not even see another boat and all this time it extends not only to the horizons but also hundreds or thousands of feet below you. Our oceans are the definition of massive.
So I don’t think we should beat ourselves up too much. It’s a terrible situation, certainly, but you can see how we got here, you can empathize with how we’ve played this. In short, we’ve just witnessed the jump of “Don’t *@## where you eat” from local to global.
Everyone has understood this saying on a small, local level for a long time. It just makes sense…where your living situation is compact, you don’t let the bad stuff contaminate the good. What changed in the last century is that we quadrupled our numbers while greatly increasing the power of our tools. Prior to this, we had the space, the resources, the leeway to pollute; nature would simply take it. Now, we don’t. It’s as if we were consuming and polluting in an expanding pattern around the globe and we just recently started bumping into ourselves. Suddenly, we are clueing in that the oceans are actually finite and that little ol’ us can indeed affect them, and unfortunately in a very significant manner.
Our task now? Truly internalize this lesson that has worked so well for so long on a small, local scale and then move quickly enough to create the legal and regulatory framework that will protect our oceans, an essential breadbasket of humanity. Because, we need the oceans…they are a non-negotiable item in the intricate formula that allows our species to survive on this planet. They are not a nice-to-have, they are a need-to-have. We simply can’t survive without them.
With me? Start Here: a) Refuse single use plastics. b) Eat less, more sustainable seafood. c) Sign up for a newsletter at TreeHugger.com
For more insight inside the Plastiki adventure, tune in to The 12,000 Bottle Boat tonight at 8P et/pt on National Geographic Channel. In the meantime, check out this clip from tonight’s premiere: