Today, in Marin and Sonoma, we are dumping tons of deadly chemicals into our Bay. We are treating Mother Nature like an Ashtray! We can restore Mother Nature to the condition it was hundreds of years ago, if it mattered to us. And it must matter to us.
Sustainability. This word needs to be on our lips a lot if we want our children to inherit the planet our parents and grandparents gave us. One hundred years ago, we humans had a much smaller footprint on the planet. We have fouled our lands and waters and we need to fix it.
In the mid-1940s, when I was five, six, and seven, I lived in Palatine, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Down the street from where we lived was a “swamp.” Actually, it was probably a little piece of nature man had not touched for hundreds of years, or even longer. I often went there and marveled at what I saw. Each spring, I watched tadpoles turn into frogs. There were fish swimming and turtles sunning themselves on logs and rocks. The air was filled with the sounds of birds and insects. Butterflies and bees passed overhead. There were dragonflies and water spiders skipping around.
I felt excited when a neighbor brought home a huge snapping turtle that had lived for decades in our “swamp.” But they’d killed it!
Why does man want to kill?
I believe that since the industrial age we “modern men” have lost our way. We have become more and more isolated from nature, and we have failed to show our children its wonder.
When the Caucasians landed in America, the rivers and plains were alive and well. The Native Americans lived in balance with nature. We white people, and our capitalism, over time, have run amuck and have seriously wounded Mother Nature.
But I think we can grow up and act like sane adults, people with common sense. I believe in the best in us. I believe we can turn this around. If we can go to the moon, we certainly can stop fouling our water here on Earth!
In the San Francisco Bay Area, we screwed up the Bay water by dumping garbage into it to create more land to fit more houses. Who had this crazy idea? You guessed it. It was the fat cats and their buddies in state and local government. They got rich, and we lost the ecology that kept our water clean and the wildlife safe. They looked at the Bay, Mother Nature’s complex and amazing and intricate balance of plants and animals, and they saw money.
Sane people looked at the Bay and saw a beautiful, flourishing, delicately balanced ecosystem. These sane people saw that every square inch of the Bay served a function in nature. The tidelands and estuaries were the filters that cleaned the Bay waters while providing a sanctuary for millions of birds and other wildlife. The Bay was home to an abundance of fish and sea mammals. It had been this way for millions of years.
How could we repair this? Actually, in 1961, three East Bay women helped mobilize thousands of concerned citizens in a movement to Save the Bay. This kind of thinking has restored thousands of acres to nature, and thousands more acres are in the process of restoration. Thanks to the work of this grassroots effort, in the past 50 years there has actually been an increase in the size and cleanliness of the Bay. This is a heartwarming and precious movement. We are a long way from total repair. A long way, but people of vision are headed in the right direction. Here in the San Francisco area, we need to be stewards of the Bay. When we visit Our Mother, we need to heed the maxim: “Take only pictures and leave only shadows.”
I live in Mill Valley. The water that goes down my toilet or sink goes into the Bay. Sadly, my water may contain contaminants that end up in our Bay. Water analysis shows that fish caught in the Bay are contaminated with hundreds of compounds ranging from mercury to cancer-causing endocrine-disruptors, and even penicillin, narcotics, and birth control medications. This is wrong! This is pollution and it must be stopped. Each of us must take responsibility for changing this.
Alex Prud’homme’s book, The Ripple Effect, says the Hudson River contains cancer-causing PCBs, that there is cow manure in well water throughout the western states, and that most of our waterways contain narcotics and synthetic estrogens, and hundreds of other chemicals. How did this happen? It feels like someone should go to jail. Someone should be held accountable for the immoral, unethical, and insane behavior of the companies that have caused this contamination. Clearly you would think that someone should be imprisoned for ruining our water supply. But the reality is that it is all of us who are doing it. We voters are passively allowing these practices by not being informed, and by not voting for someone who commits to take money out of politics. We have allowed corrupt politicians and Big Industry to run amuck and pee in our drinking water.
Rivers, creeks, and other wetlands all over America are in trouble. The runoff from industrial livestock feed lots is poisoning downstream waters, as well as the aquifers — the underground bodies of water that supply our well water.
Huge corporations are using Mother Nature as a dumpster! Complex and dangerous chemicals today are poured into our aquifers as a result of fracking. Fracking is a new invention of Big Oil to get more out of the land. They set off large explosions in the delicate skin of our planet and then pump chemicals, under high pressure, to break up the land so they can extract more carbon to sell.
These 1%-people do not even get the madness of their actions!
Aquifers are unseen bodies of underground water. The rain that lands on the earth ultimately finds its way into these natural reservoirs. These precious bodies of water have been here for millions of years and provide the well water that many people drink. Can you imagine anything crazier than pumping poison into this ancient, fresh water body? The Environmental Protection Agency released a report in 2004 that said that fracking poses “little or no threat” to the water supply!
So, some part of the 1% (Big Oil) had other members of the same 1% (government scientists) do a study that said there was little or no threat from fracking. They said this, even as the evening news was showing people setting on fire the methane that was coming out of their tap water spigot!
Another part of this 1% (Congress) is authorizing companies that are pumping this fracking fluid into our aquifers, to disregard the regulations of the Safe Drinking Water Act in 2005. Congress also authorized Big Oil to keep the ingredients in the fracking fluid secret! (Why?) Some of the chemicals that have been pumped into these ancient fresh water bodies from fracking are carcinogenic; others contain endocrine disruptors. These chemicals interrupt normal growth and development in babies. Arsenic, copper, vanadium, and many other toxic substances have also been released into the water as a result of fracking. It will be impossible to fix this. Any attempt will only damage it more. For thousands of years to come, if any of us survive, history books will have a chapter about how Americans, in a brief moment of evolutionary time, went insane and did something that had consequences far worse than even what Hitler did. It is easy to see why Einstein could say that he did not think Homo sapiens was smart enough to figure out how to get along.
Big Oil, and President Obama, and your Senator, and your Representative are not only continuing the fracking process, but also expanding its use! There is no hope of talking to these leaders. There is no chance that a demonstration will deflect this monstrosity. “Raising gas mileage requirements” and “subsidizing electric cars” are matches being lit in a thunderstorm. We need to get money out of politics, and elect new, honorable representatives, and then have a serious conversation about how to fix this.
Ultimately, these poisons find their way into our lakes and oceans. This is happening at an accelerating pace, and no sane individual can ignore it. It’s time to stand up. We really don’t have a choice.
That needs to be our mandate. It needs to be our goal. We need to “man up” and make it happen.
I propose regulations stipulating that no one can release contaminated water into our water supply. If any water is returned to Nature, it must be pure. Pure. Not mostly pure, not almost pure, but pure. Just like it fell from the sky as rain or snow. The technology to do this is already available. What happens to the water that is recycled on the Space Station or on nuclear submarines? There are a number of ways to purify polluted water. Here is a list of some of these ways: reverse osmosis, carbon filtration, microfiltration, ultrafiltration, ultraviolet oxidation, electrodialysis, and microporous filtration. The gold standard is double distillation. This needs to be our goal. We just can’t piss in our nest! We are smarter than that! I want all of us to stop 100% of the pollution. Not 99.99%. Even water that is 99.99% pure is not sustainable, if we take a long view. We must always take the long view. We must always think of our children’s world.
Ten minutes from where I live, a local community is restoring a precious waterway. Using taxpayer money, local volunteers are digging out a channel in the wetlands at Muir Beach in Marin County. Until white people arrived, this area was a vital wetland habitat that provided a home for thousands of critters, large and small. Coho Salmon swam up the creeks at Muir Beach to spawn each year, as they had for hundreds of thousands of years. In the blink of an eye, we destroyed this gem.
Today you can see the bulldozers and the dump trucks and the men and women in hard hats, busy undoing what we did. It brings tears to my eyes as I watch them work. I hope I live long enough to see the salmon return. I hope I live long enough to see the Western Pond Turtle come back to the area. I love to pay taxes when I see that my tax dollars are helping undo the damage my people have done.
We have plenty of resources to reclaim our waterways and restore sanity to our water use. We just need to wake up to the out-of-control 1%, our oligarchy, that is using Mother Nature as a toilet. They need to be toilet-trained. Actually, they need to be ousted from office, toilet-trained or not.
It’s clear that our current practices are unsustainable. Yes, profit is part of capitalism, but we also must be moral, ethical, and spiritual. Acting with integrity will bring each of us something much more precious than money. That “something more” will be the serenity you will experience knowing that you were part of the solution and not part of the problem. In the meantime, “Congress, Big Business, Big Union, Fat Cats, get the hell out of the way so that we can clean up the mess!”
As a Congressman, I would support a bill proposing the following Constitutional Amendment:
“Congress and the Executive Branch, in all their actions, will strive to recreate a biosphere like the one that existed when this country was founded.”
Mother Nature has had things in balance for millions of years. We simply need to realize that the 1%’s greed is destroying the planet. And we need to understand that it is we, you and I, who are responsible for allowing our democracy to be hijacked by the 1%. And it we, you and I, who need to stand up and vote them out of office.