The other day I had a sort of epiphany. I want to share it with you.
I was at the school and a window broke. So it goes. I volunteered to fence off the area to make it safe during imminent recess till it could be repaired. Off I went with a roll of the plastic tape with the yellow and black diagonal stripes that declare an official danger. Up went the tape. The window was repaired. At the end of the day I took down the barrier. It was like nothing had happened. When I was checking over the site to make sure nothing was left undone I had my thought.
Millions of years ago our planet teemed with life. There was more oxygen and more carbon dioxide and the biosphere thrived. It was then that this story really started. The seas were rich with micro-organisms and as they died their bodies rained down over millions of years forming deep beds of sludge that were subsequently buried, compressed and cooked to create the vast oil reserves that have fueled progress for the last 150 years.
The oil that comes out of the ground after countless millions of years of natural processing is amazingly useful. From it we get drugs, plastics, fertilizers and of course petrol.
There is now less than half the oil in the ground than there was when we first made those amazing discoveries in Texas. Nearly a billion years to produce and less than 200 hundred years to consume (at present rates). So desperate are the greedy and the rich to continue this process that they are destroying the bedrock beneath our feet and threatening the integrity of our ground water.
What has this got to do with a broken window and hazard tape? Consider – the strip of plastic tape that I unrolled, used and threw away in less than a day had taken a billion years to get there. Once the resources have been drained there will be no more. I threw away the plastic tape and it made it’s way to the tip where it will remain for another billion years polluting the subsoil.
Then I thought about Christmas and the mountains of plastic junk being produced by the worlds factories and given as Christmas presents that will break or just be thrown away in the next twelve months. I thought of the pollution going into the biosphere from their manufacture, the persistence of the junk in the ground and the sheer waste of this precious resource for the manufacture of trivia and to drive us all around in our little tin boxes. It was quite a thought.
I have resolved this year to try and only buy presents that are bio-degradable, hand made and/or of lasting value and durability. Vouchers and digital memberships are good. It is vastly less than a drop in the bucket for our poor struggling planet with its poor struggling billions but as my bumper sticker says – ‘There are no jobs on a dead planet!’