Monday, December 31, 2012


Two pieces of environmental news moved me the most this past year. Serendipitously, one occurred as the year began, the other as it ended.

In January, I came across an astonishing photo in a travelogue blog of Kuta Beach, Bali:
Bali, paradise on Earth, has no infrastructure for dealing with its resorts' tonnage of plastic waste. That waste just gets pitched into the sea, as has been traditional on Bali for centuries. Unfortunately, now it comes back. Worse, it's accepted. The sunbather in this picture -- for her, the fight already seems lost. Her world is one of waste & filth, and she nestles down amid it, to enjoy what she can of her surroundings.

The second "bookend" to my year came just a few days ago. A story I stumbled upon about an extremely rare gingko-toothed beaked whale that washed up in the Philippines.
This whale is so rare that in the past 55 years precisely two have been spotted in the Philippines. Including this one. It died from a ~6-foot piece of plastic fishing rope lodged in its digestive tract. (Series of photos here; some of the necropsy. Fascinating but graphic, use discretion.) Basically, it starved.

It's all the same problem: connecting our actions on one day & place with outcomes that may be far away & a long time coming. Deluging developing nations with plastic products... A global fishing industry that loses countless tons of plastic gear daily... These actions have consequences, costs. And we're not paying them.

We're still just running up the environmental credit card. It will come due.

The Flotsam Diaries is often a study in manmade ugliness. And it's true, humans, alone in the world, have the capacity to utterly wreck our planet.

But, as far as we know, we are also the only ones who can appreciate that planet. No other creature sits on a lawn and admires the pinks and violets of an incredible sunset, for its own sake. No other species will visit a vacant seashore, sands sun-sparkled and smooth -- freshly washed by an outgoing tide -- and see it not in terms of threats or opportunities of the moment, but in awe. Only we can ponder footsteps of the past, and of the future, and truly know something of our place in this tiny moment of time & space that we each call ours.
So in spite of the ugliness, the Flotsam Diaries continues joyfully into 2013. Because the world is still a beautiful place, worth fighting for. And folks the world over know it.

Peace, and humble appreciation for all of your support and passion and kind words over the years.

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