Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Great Victory for Blue Lagoon Jamaica!

Blue Lagoon, Portland, Jamaica

Jamaica's precious Blue Lagoon won a significant victory this week when a Preservation Notice was signed by the Government. Below is the letter from the Jamaica National Heritage Trust with the good news. The Preservation Notice is the first step to protecting the integrity of the Lagoon. It was 60 years ago that Jamaica's first Prime Minister, Norman Manley sent his preservation notice to the Cabinet earmarking Blue Lagoon to be preserved for future generations. It is a great victory that is now taking place for Jamaica's environment and the beautiful Blue Lagoon. Congratulations to all who have helped to make this possible and in particular to my friend Adrienne Joan Duperly of Blue Lagoon Restoration Jamaica who has worked tirelessly by advocating for Blue Lagoon and to Laleta Davis Mattis of the Jamaica National Heritage Trust who made it happen! Blue Lagoon Preservation Notice Letter to Participants of the Meeting

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Climate Crisis: Humanity Faces Its Shadow (Part 1)

 The old people used to say that droughts happen when people forget, when people misbehave. ~ Leslie Marmon Silko in Ceremony

That we have desecrated the earth is without question. Westernized humanity has caused the loss of forests, landscapes, species, ecosystems and now perils the entire planet with severe weather events caused by carbon-related climate change. From the severe droughts affecting southern states in the U.S. this past summer, the unprecedented loss of arctic sea ice, to the heat extremes of 2010 which brought wildfires in Russia and catastrophic flooding in Pakistan and Australia, Gaia is unleashing her fury on a breathtaking scale. There is nowhere on earth that is now unaffected by climate change. One would think that with all of the evidence displayed across our daily headlines and television screens that the majority of the population would be clamoring for their governments to take action. Incredibly though, the largest, most powerful economy on earth, the United States, is doing very little on a federal level to deal with this freight train headed right for us. In fact, quite the opposite is true: the United States anemic response and unwillingness to seriously commit itself to carbon reduction standards is the reason that the United Nations talks on climate change have not produced any meaningful agreements and why there is little hope for the current COP 17 talks in Durban.

From a depth psychology perspective, it could be said that climate change is an out picturing of humanity’s shadow, directly related to our broken relationship with the earth. The denial of climate change and the tepid response to it is evidence of it being a shadow issue for humanity. We do not want to face it. We would rather place it on the back burner as we do with other shadow aspects of the psyche. But centuries of exploitation of the earth as a mere resource to be used and plundered is now showing us, through the destructive forces of climate change, that we have misbehaved badly We have indeed forgotten how to live peacefully and sustainably with the earth. Like all cut off aspects of the shadow, we will be forced to deal with it at some time or another as the world psyche tries to balance itself.

Indigenous people have not forgotten. While their lands were being stolen, and their peoples killed in genocidal acts, the indigenous people of the world have held on to their inherent wisdom about how to live with the earth. Thomas Berry states:  

[The] Indian peoples of this continent do possess, it seems, an indestructible psychic formation that will remain into the indefinite future. They have held on to dimensions of their ancient wisdom traditions of which European Americans have had little or no knowledge. As the years pass it becomes ever more clear that dialogue with native peoples here and throughout the world is urgently needed to provide the human community with models of a more integral human presence to the Earth. 

Indigenous practices and ways of living do not cause climate change. For the most part, their relationship with the earth has not been broken. It is time we learn from them because our westernized, mechanized, technological ways are obviously not working when it comes to preserving the planet. By learning from them this does not mean that we should adopt their spiritual ways, steal their wisdom about medicinal plants or take from their culture. But there are many ways that we can learn from them while honoring their wisdom. They can help us to remember how to live peacefully and sustainably on the earth. Copyright © Kathy Stanley. Part 2 tomorrow. 

Quoted in this article:

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Intersection of Coral Reefs, Crochet and Mathematics.

This. Video. Blew. Me. Away. Where coral reefs, crochet, and mathematics intersect. Margaret Wertheim schools us on hyperbolic geometry, embodied knowledge and play tanks. Absolutely. Genius. Go to The Institute for Figuring for more information.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Jane Bell Interview on Egypt Travel with Nile TV

A candid, informative interview from Oct 15/11 regarding travel to Egypt with my friend Jane Bell:

Jane Bell runs Presence of Heart Tours - highly recommended for anyone considering travel to Egypt.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy: A Global Revolution in Consciousness

On February 11, 2011, I wrote the following letter in response to the revolution in Egypt. Given the events now with #OccupyWallStreet and the evolving #OccupyEverywhere going global, this bears a re-posting:

A missive from the future:

Looking back, it was 2011 that cemented in place a new collective nervous system in the world. Twitter, Facebook and the whole internet brought about solidarity, not just of one people in one country, but of many people in many countries of the world. The aspirations of freedom and democracy, fairness and social justice for all people, everywhere was borne out of the events in Tunisia and then Egypt, causing the world to wake up to the fact that the time had truly come when people could take power over governments, when the old tactics of intimidation, censorship and brute force, no longer caused fear, or had any effect to stop the revolution. With transparency and the new empowerment of people fueled by the internet, and their shared attention to uprooting injustice, a whole host of problems facing the world could be addressed. Governments could no longer hide behind propagandist facades of “protecting the people.” Dictators could no longer be propped up by foreign aid while their people suffered immeasurable social injustice. Oligarchs could no longer get away with robbing countries of wealth through tax giveaways to the rich while blaming public employees for drained funds. Plutocrats could no longer get away with hiding out in mountainous Swiss enclaves, planning how to maintain their control of the world while the majority of people suffered in hunger and lived on cents a day. Corporations could no longer stifle action against the threats of global warming. The global revolution in consciousness came about, charged in large part by the collective power gained through this new nervous system: the internet, social media and the simple fact that most people around the world want peace, freedom, a fair and honest democratic system of government, and attention to issues like poverty, education, joblessness and global warming that face all of us. So to all of you oligarchs, plutocrats, dictators, corporate bosses and corrupt governments quaking in your boots, know this: Your. Days. Are. Numbered. (So just evolve, will you? Join the rest of us and give up your greedy, immoral, rapacious ways.)

Monday, October 10, 2011

#OccupyTogether and The Occupied Wall Street Journal

It can't come soon enough for the fate of all of our futures: the waking up of the 99%. A Wall Street phenomenon spreading to all major cities in the U.S. and now going global. BRILLIANT! May this be the beginning of the end of the immoral, rapacious greed and criminality that has overrun democracy in favor of the 1% plutocratic overlords...
Issue #2 'The Occupied Wall Street Journal' to read/download

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Monday, September 26, 2011

RIP Wangari Maathai

The great African (Kenyan) environmentalist, founder of the Green Belt Movement and the first African woman to win the Nobel Prize, Wangari Maathai passed away yesterday from cancer. I had the good fortune to see her speak at a conference years ago in Washington, D.C. She was an inspiration to millions and her efforts on behalf of the environment, women and democracy are profound achievements. Her legacy has been huge and she will be very missed.
Here is a clip from Taking Root: The Vision of Wangari Maathai - a documentary film highlighting her life and work.

Here she is telling an inspiring story. "I will be the hummingbird" in the documentary "Dirt"

And here she is speaking with Democracy Now two years ago on climate change and the U.N. talks.

From the New York Times obituary:
NAIROBI, Kenya — Wangari Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist who began a movement to reforest her country by paying poor women a few shillings to plant trees and who went on to become the first African woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, died here on Sunday. She was 71...

Dr. Maathai, one of the most widely respected women on the continent, wore many hats — environmentalist, feminist, politician, professor, rabble-rouser, human rights advocate and head of the Green Belt Movement, which she founded in 1977. Its mission was to plant trees across Kenya to fight erosion and to create firewood for fuel and jobs for women.

Dr. Maathai was as comfortable in the gritty streets of Nairobi’s slums or the muddy hillsides of central Kenya as she was hobnobbing with heads of state. She won the Peace Prize in 2004 for what the Nobel committee called “her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.” It was a moment of immense pride in Kenya and across Africa.

Her Green Belt Movement has planted more than 30 million trees in Africa and has helped nearly 900,000 women, according to the United Nations, while inspiring similar efforts in other African countries.

“Wangari Maathai was a force of nature,” said Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nation’s environmental program. He likened her to Africa’s ubiquitous acacia trees, “strong in character and able to survive sometimes the harshest of conditions.”

Dr. Maathai toured the world, speaking out against environmental degradation and poverty, which she said early on were intimately connected. But she never lost focus on her native Kenya. She was a thorn in the side of Kenya’s previous president, Daniel Arap Moi, whose government labeled the Green Belt Movement “subversive” during the 1980s.....

In her Nobel Prize acceptance speech, Dr. Maathai said the inspiration for her work came from growing up in rural Kenya. She reminisced about a stream running next to her home – a stream that has since dried up – and drinking fresh, clear water.

“In the course of history, there comes a time when humanity is called to shift to a new level of consciousness,” she said, “to reach a higher moral ground. A time when we have to shed our fear and give hope to each other. That time is now.” Read the entire obituary here.
Her books include:
Replenishing the Earth 
Unbowed: A Memoir
The Challenge for Africa
The Green Belt Movement: Sharing the Approach and the Experience

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

24 Hours of Climate Reality Coming Sept 14

The No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change: The Science, the Solutions, the Way Forward (No-Nonsense Guides)"Let me tell you a secret. Sometimes - just sometimes - I get jealous of the people who don't believe in climate change. On those days, when I hear someone on breakfast radio declaring they have 'proof' that climate change isn't real, I give a cry of joy, leap out of bed and eagerly start investigating this wonderful claim, only to find that - as usual - they're talking absolute nonsense and the science of climate change is as frustratingly solid as ever." ~ Danny Chivers in The No-Nonsense Guide to Climate Change.
It can't come too soon: a whole 24 hours of reality programming on the climate crisis is being broadcast tomorrow in every time zone. Enough with the lies and the climate deniers. It's time we got serious. Don't you think? I was alarmed to hear from a relative in the Cayman Islands that they have been having unprecedented temperatures of 108 and 109 degrees there. In Cayman? That is unheard of...and just yet another example of our fragile planet in distress...

To get involved and to watch go to the Climate Reality Project website here.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Saving Humpback Whale from Fishing Line Entanglement: An all too common hazard for whales

Amazing and heartwarming video from the folks at the Great Whale Conservancy who saved a humpback whale from entanglement in fishing line in the Sea of Cortez:

Monday, August 29, 2011

One People: "Out of Many, One Documentary" - Celebrating Jamaica's Global Reach

Next year both Jamaica and I turn 50. Me in February and Jamaica six months later when the island celebrates her 50th year of independence from Great Britain on August 6, 2012. I'm celebrating by entering grad school and getting my masters degree over the next two years. The One People Documentary is a fabulous idea to celebrate Jamaica's independence and a great collaborative effort. Jah know seh Jamrock deserves some upliftment! We may be likkle but we tallawa!!! From the OnePeople wesbite:

OnePeople is a collaborative documentary that invites people worldwide to contribute footage to celebrate Jamaica's global reach 50 years after independence. We pose the question "What does Jamaica mean to you?" with the aim that a global community of creative minded people will respond by uploading a visual representation of their answer.

We know this tiny island nation has touched many outside of our country, even beyond our diaspora, and with this project we will embrace anyone who has ever been moved by a reggae song, enjoyed a plate of ackee and saltfish, a Negril sunset, been inspired by the words of Marcus Garvey or simply has a point of view.

OnePeople will premiere in London, Toronto, New York, Miami and Kingston on August 6th 2012.

We hope we have given you all the information you need right here but feel free to contact us with any questions.

Submissions will close November 6th, 2011. See website here.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Are we hard-wired for harmony with the earth?

Evidence is all around us that human beings, except for remaining indigenous peoples, are the cause of most of the stress now facing much of the earth’s ecosystems. The multi-century widespread colonization of the earth by the Westernized human has consumed forests, wetlands, marine ecosystems, grasslands and all manner of natural environment and has precipitated a new extinction phase. Without knowledge that there is another way to live with the environment, it could be safe to say that many modern people no longer know of any other way to live other than to be in an unsustainable relationship with the earth. The person growing up in an urban, fully built environment is these days likely preoccupied with survival issues – working several jobs to provide food and shelter for their families, hence the natural world (and sustainability with the natural world) is perhaps far from his or her mind. So does this mean that this person is no longer capable of a living in harmony with the earth? Not according to Paul Shepard:

An ecologically harmonious sense of self and world is not the outcome of rational choices. It is the inherent possession of everyone; it is latent in the organism, in the interaction of the genome and early experience. The phases of such early experiences, or epigenesis are the legacy of an evolutionary past in which human and nonhuman achieved a healthy rapport. (128)

In this statement, Shephard makes the claim that human beings are innately capable of having a sound relationship with the environment that does not involve pathological tendencies towards destruction, and does not involve having to make a concerted effort or choice to do so. He is saying that left to our basic nature, and with healthy development of the psyche, human beings possess an instinctual nature, like animals, that knows how to live in harmonious relationship with the earth.

Jung offers support for this theory when he describes his mother as having a “natural mind:”

The ‘natural mind’ is the mind which says absolutely straight and ruthless things. That is the sort of mind which springs from natural sources, and not from opinions taken from books; it wells up from the earth like a natural spring, and brings with it the peculiar wisdom of nature. (Jung 27)

Jung further develops this theory of the natural mind into his notion of the ‘archaic man’ which he says we still possess even though our evolving consciousness has taken us away from it:

Every civilized human being, however high his conscious development, is still an archaic man at the deeper levels of his psyche. Just as the human body connects us with the mammals and displays numerous vestiges of earlier evolutionary stages going back even to the reptilian age, so the human psyche is a product of evolution which, when followed back to its origins, shows countless archaic traits. (Jung 100)

Jung believes that the archaic man resides in our unconscious and is re-awakened by dreams and spending time in nature. He distinguishes between modern man and archaic man however believes that even modern man can re-gain the connection with nature. His recommendation on how to re-connect with the archaic man within us is illustrated by this message to students:

Go to bed. Think of your problem. See what you dream. Perhaps the Great Man, the 2,000,000-year-old man, will speak. In a cul-de-sac, then only do you hear his voice. (Jung 215)

Jung places great emphasis on dreaming and spending time in nature as a prescription for igniting our instinctual nature and connection with the ancient wisdom residing in our unconscious. He believed that our great development of consciousness has swung too far out of balance whereby we have gotten too far away from the archaic nature which knows how to live sustainably with the earth, and too dangerously associated with technological development that destroys the earth. However, like Shepard, he believed that we still possessed this inherent ability to live harmoniously with earth.

Shepard and Jung offer positive perspectives on modern man’s ability to have a right relationship with the earth, even amongst the heaping evidence to the contrary. In my own experience, if I make the mistake of watching too much television, reading too many newspapers or spending too much time on the internet, my inner and outer harmony is diminished. Conversely, the more time I spend in nature, and the more time I spend tending my dreams and communing with my pets, brings me into a greater harmony with the world inside and outside of me. Perhaps it is exactly as Jung said: “Sometimes a tree tells you more than can be read in books” (Jung 6). I am glad that we still retain this ability to hear the wisdom of the trees. Copyright © Kathy Stanley.

Works Cited

Jung, C.G. The Earth Has a Soul: C.G. Jung on Nature, Technology & Modern Life. Ed. Meredith Sabini. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books, 2002. Print.

Shephard, Paul. Nature and Madness. Athens, GA: U of Georgia P, 1982. Print.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Washington Post publishes article on struggle for Blue Lagoon Jamaica

 Yesterday the Washington Post published an Associated Press story on the struggle for Blue Lagoon which is under threat by developers:

Battle brews over development of Jamaica’s Blue Lagoon, one of island’s best known attractions
PORT ANTONIO, Jamaica — In a lush corner of Jamaica, a skirmish is under way over a spring-fed lagoon where the changing light of day turns water from shimmering jade to brilliant cobalt.

Tree-fringed Blue Lagoon is a dazzling, 400-foot-long (122-meter-long) teardrop of water that meets the Caribbean along a coast that was once a hideaway for the rich and famous and a setting for a film starring Brooke Shields.

The little lagoon’s shore already is marred by an abandoned, hurricane-damaged restaurant and a crumbling helicopter pad, and a new development is alarming conservationists who are trying to save one of Jamaica’s most gorgeous natural attractions. The owner of a small hilltop hotel overlooking the lagoon has carved away a pocket of forest and mangroves to create a private, white-sand beach that activists fear could spoil the unique environment.

In most places on the tourism-dependent island, where politicians mostly view the conservation lobby as a hindrance to economic development, a small beach cut out of mangroves would hardly merit notice. But the Blue Lagoon isn’t just anyplace.

It’s a rare environment where the warm waters of the sea mix with fresh water from cold mineral springs in a 186-foot-deep (57-meter) sinkhole. Yellow-billed parrots spread their wings to dry after rain showers. Small blue fish dart around the shallows. Black-and-scarlet frigate birds swoop overhead.

The cove was first described in an 1864 journal published by photographic pioneer Adolphe Duperly. The Frenchman’s pictures of Jamaica were a hit at a Paris exhibition and helped the Blue Lagoon become a destination for travelers.

The lagoon and the wider Port Antonio area were once favored destinations of European aristocrats and film stars like Errol Flynn, whose widow still runs a cattle ranch nearby. But it has seen a steady decline in tourist traffic since its 1950s heyday.

Blue Lagoon still attracts bird-watchers and nature lovers who want experiences off of the beaten track, though it’s hardly been a priority for recent Jamaican governments due to its relative isolation and lack of foot traffic. Just outside the cove, about a dozen luxury villas line the shore.

It is often known as Blue Hole to locals, but the alternate name came into wider use after the Brooke Shields movie “The Blue Lagoon” was partly filmed there, though her famed swim scene was shot elsewhere.

The Jamaica National Heritage Trust has completed historical research to potentially declare Blue Lagoon a protected national monument. But Lisa Grant, legal officer for the government body, said more rigorous evaluations are needed before any official declaration can be made.

They need to “make sure the economic activity around the site does not compromise the integrity of the area,” she said, a reference to development and boat tours around the cove. It is not clear how long their assessments might take.

During a recent visit to the cove, the chief of the local Portland Environment Protection Association, Machel Donegan, said the area is a “very special, unique place so development on it should not be allowed.”

Environmental activists have been pressing politicians to save the cove, while blasting regulators. They say government approval of the beach is evidence of a broader failure of environmental protection on an island where many see jobs as more important than strict conservation. Read rest of article here.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Kitten vs 2 scary green things

I saw this on Keith's show a few days ago but it's much better with the soundtrack:

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ending Anti-Gay Violence in Jamaica - Oslo Freedom Forum - Thomas Glave and Brian Williamson

My cousin, Brian Williamson, was a prominent human rights and gay rights activist in our birth place of Jamaica. Sadly, Brian was murdered in June 2004 and his death was attributed to his outspoken efforts to bring about an end to homophobia in Jamaica. Known and mourned around the world, Brian’s death elicited this response from Amnesty International: “Brian Williamson was a courageous individual prepared to speak out for one of the most marginalized and persecuted communities in Jamaica: the gay and lesbian community. The loss of such a fearless champion of human rights is to be regretted; he will be sorely missed.”

I remember the last time I saw Brian. He had moved to Toronto for a while where I was living at the time. For the sake of his family, I wish that he had never returned to Jamaica after that. I was helping him to update his resume. I still have his resume on my computer. I keep it as a memento of him. When I did a class in Human Rights Advocacy for my undergrad degree a couple of years ago, I thought about Brian a lot. I knew him as my older, loving, big-brother like cousin who was the life of the party, always cheerful and uplifting - you could not find a bigger heart anywhere. But now, as a result of all of my class work in the world of human rights, I felt like I understood the spirit of who my cousin was and the world of advocacy work that he devoted his life to. I felt like I had come closer to appreciating and understanding the significance of his work while gaining greater resolution with his untimely death.

Now, in a deeply powerful testimony about the horrors of what gay people have to endure in Jamaica, the highly acclaimed Jamaican writer and Binghamton University professor Thomas Glave gives a riveting speech to the Oslo Freedom Forum 2011 in which he includes a tribute to my cousin Brian:

It is beyond time that the appalling homophobia that is a blight on certain parts of Jamaican society come to an end. Beyond time. How many more must suffer. How many more must die. I salute the courage of heroes like Thomas Glave and Brian Williamson who co-founded JFLAG. I join Thomas Glave in his prayer.

Brian Williamson

From the J-FLAG website:
J-FLAG’s mission is to work towards a Jamaican society in which the Human Rights and Equality of Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays are guaranteed. To foster the acceptance and enrichment of the lives of same-gender-loving persons who have been, and continue to be, an integral part of society. J-FLAG holds the vision to move forward in a spirit of oneness, love, dignity and respect towards the establishment of a Jamaica, and world, devoid of prejudice, injustice, discrimination and oppression. And, furthermore, to ensure the human rights of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, as set out in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Your Moment of Zen

Friday, June 10, 2011

Link between climate change and Joplin tornodoes? Never. Bill McKibben's op-ed in video narration.

Get the fossil-fuel industry out of controlling energy policy in this country. Join on September 24, 2011 for the global rally Moving Planet: A Day to Move Beyond Fossil Fuels.

Moving Planet is a worldwide rally to demand solutions to the climate crisis—a single day to move away from fossil fuels. For too long, our leaders have denied and delayed, compromised and caved. That era must come to an end.

Come on bike, on skates, on a board, or just on foot. Come with your neighbors and your friends, your family and your co-workers. Come be part of something huge. It's time to get moving on the climate crisis. Join up here.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Jeffrey Sachs and Robert Kennedy, Jr. on why we can't have a good energy policy

Two of my heroes speaking about the "stranglehold" that the fossil fuel industry lobby has over policy in Washington.
The Last Mountain starts this weekend.

Take Action:
Join in the NRDC efforts - click on link to sign
Tell President Obama to stop allowing mountaintop removal mining to destroy Appalachia

Across the Appalachians, coal mining companies are destroying entire mountains in a practice known as mountaintop removal mining, and then they're dumping the untreated mining wastes into adjoining valleys and streams, wiping out large swaths of forest, miles of streams and the wildlife that depends on them. Urge President Obama to prohibit mining companies from dumping their mountaintop removal waste into streams and lakes.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Runaway carbon coupled with failure of UN Climate talks means: We’re on our own.

Act locally, 'cause your government is not there for you.

 “We’re on our own.” That’s the stripped down conclusion I’ve reached about where we’re heading on climate change, given political inaction and corruption at the federal level in the U.S. This month I completed a presentation on the U.N. Climate Talks to fulfill requirements for a Certificate in Conflict Resolution from my alma mater, Marylhurst University (what better conflict to study than the beleaguered, intractable climate talks).  Daily headlines informed my research and have made me less optimistic about the prospects for any success at the U.N Climate Talks. COP 17 is slated for December this year in Durban, South Africa. With the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol agreement next year, and the evidence of our changing climate on daily display, (hello extreme tornadoes in U.S mid-west; extreme flooding in Pakistan, Australia, and Caribbean countries last year to mention only a few) it would be logical to assume that everyone, every citizen of the world, every country of the world, would be united in wanting to come to agreement about reducing carbon. Of course, like me, you would be altruistic, perhaps naïve if you had such a thought.

There is no debate anymore about climate change. It is here. Look around. Pick up a newspaper. Extreme weather events are everywhere. No part of the globe is unaffected now. Everyone is talking about it. If you’re not, then you’re not paying attention. Watch this startling video to see how the Caribbean could be re-shaped by rising sea levels.  Goodbye downtown Kingston, Jamaica where I was born.  Goodbye Jamaica's major airport, the Norman Manley International Airport.  Goodbye the Palisadoes strip where the airport is located. If sea level were to rise only 1 metre in the Caribbean, the impacts would be catastrophic.  21 Caricom airports would be lost. Nearly 1,300 square kilometres in Caricom countries would be lost and 110,000 people displaced. Caribbean countries that would suffer the greatest economic losses would be the Bahamas, Guyana, Trinidad and Tobago and Belize.

Scientists are united that human-caused climate change is here due to the dangerous rise of carbon in the atmosphere. The consensus is that we need to be at 350 parts per million of carbon in the atmosphere for the climate to be stable. We have not been at 350 parts per million since about 1987! We’re at 393 ppm as of April 2011.

And steadily rising. How’s this for a headline in today’s Guardian:

Worst ever carbon emissions leave climate on the brink
Record rise, despite recession, means 2C target almost out of reach

Economic recession has failed to curb rising emissions, undermining hope of keeping global warming to safe levels.  Greenhouse gas emissions increased by a record amount last year, to the highest carbon output in history, putting hopes of holding global warming to safe levels all but out of reach, according to unpublished estimates from the International Energy Agency.

The shock rise means the goal of preventing a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius – which scientists say is the threshold for potentially "dangerous climate change" – is likely to be just "a nice Utopia", according to Fatih Birol, chief economist of the IEA. It also shows the most serious global recession for 80 years has had only a minimal effect on emissions, contrary to some predictions.
Last year, a record 30.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere, mainly from burning fossil fuel – a rise of 1.6Gt on 2009, according to estimates from the IEA regarded as the gold standard for emissions data.

"I am very worried. This is the worst news on emissions," Birol told the Guardian. "It is becoming extremely challenging to remain below 2 degrees. The prospect is getting bleaker. That is what the numbers say."

Professor Lord Stern of the London School of Economics, the author of the influential Stern Report into the economics of climate change for the Treasury in 2006, warned that if the pattern continued, the results would be dire. "These figures indicate that [emissions] are now close to being back on a 'business as usual' path. According to the [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's] projections, such a path ... would mean around a 50% chance of a rise in global average temperature of more than 4C by 2100," he said.

"Such warming would disrupt the lives and livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people across the planet, leading to widespread mass migration and conflict. That is a risk any sane person would seek to drastically reduce."

Birol said disaster could yet be averted, if governments heed the warning. "If we have bold, decisive and urgent action, very soon, we still have a chance of succeeding," he said. Read rest of article here.

Ah, I like that: “Bold, decisive and urgent action, very soon.” How quaint. Dear Dr. Birol, come and see what we deal with in the United States for elected officials. In the most wealthy, most developed country in the world, the country responsible for 25% of the carbon emissions in the atmosphere, our elected clowns in office give us bold, decisive and urgent action AGAINST doing anything on climate change or lowering carbon emissions! The Governor of New Jersey just announced he plans to pull the state out of a multi-state initiative to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Governor of Texas suggests that the solution to drought in his state is to “pray for rain.” And the lovely U.S. House of Representatives is working to dismantle the Clean Air Act.

More headlines offer evidence that the U.N. Climate Talks are going nowhere fast. The U.S. Envoy for the talks said in April that the talks are “unworkable.” And the United Nations head of the U.N. climate treaty secretariat said in simple terms what everyone knows: “Washington's inaction on climate legislation is a "very serious hand brake" on world efforts to combat global warming.” So there you have it. Forget the U.S. government. As the Union of Concerned Scientists said in a recent statement:

Instead of standing in the way of progress, Congress should stop pandering to the deep pockets of the fossil fuel industry and allow the EPA to protect the public’s health from global warming, while also enacting the comprehensive climate and energy legislation the country needs to build a clean energy economy, create jobs, protect the environment, and ensure a healthy future for our families.

Which leads me back to: “We’re on our own.” And if you are a small island nation with full knowledge that you are headed for disaster, better act on your own to mitigate your losses.  Fortunately, some U.S. states and cities get it. And that, in my opinion, is where the “bold, decisive and urgent action,” will take place in the United States. Not at the federal level. Not in states with GOP governors who are beholden to their fossil fuel industry paymasters. But in cities like Chicago, which is "preparing for a permanent heat wave" and doing extraordinary work to prepare itself for climate change. In bike-friendly cities like Portland, Oregon, where, “on a per capita basis, [carbon emissions] have fallen by 17% since 1990. And last but not least, in citizen initiatives: installing solar panels, eating locally produced food, joining in climate action group efforts such as and lowering our individual carbon footprints as much as possible.  Maybe it's going to be the "Kids versus global warming" team who will get us through this.  If only we had such enlightened leadership in Washington.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A link between climate change and Joplin tornadoes? Never! ` Bill McKibben in the Washington Post

Another timely piece written by Bill McKibben of in the Washington Post. You have to wonder where we are heading given the rising evidence of severe weather events caused by climate change, and the the stick-your-head-in-the-sand and pretend-its-not-happening response by the totally inept, corrupt and dysfunctional political class in the U.S. Meanwhile, cities drown or are destroyed by tornadoes.

Keep Calm and Carry on
By Bill McKibben

Caution: It is vitally important not to make connections. When you see pictures of rubble like this week’s shots from Joplin, Missouri, you should not ask yourself: I wonder if this is somehow related to the huge tornado outbreak three weeks ago in Tuscaloosa, or the enormous outbreak a couple of weeks before that—together they comprised the most active April for tornadoes in our history. But that doesn’t mean a thing.

It is far better to think of these as isolated, unpredictable, discrete events. It is not advised to try and connect them in your mind with, say, the fires now burning across Texas—fires that have burned more of America by this date than any year in our history. Texas, and adjoining parts of Oklahoma and New Mexico, are drier than they’ve ever been—the drought is worse than the Dust Bowl. But do not wonder if it’s somehow connected.

If you did wonder, you’d have to also wonder about whether this year’s record snowfalls and rainfalls across the Midwest—resulting in record flooding across the Mississippi—could somehow be related. And if you did that, then you might find your thoughts wandering to, oh, global warming. To the fact that climatologists have been predicting for years that as we flood the atmosphere with carbon we will also start both drying and flooding the planet, since warm air holds more water vapor than cold.

It’s far smarter to repeat to yourself, over and over, the comforting mantra that no single weather event can ever be directly tied to climate change. There have been tornadoes before, and floods—that’s the important thing. Just be careful to make sure you don’t let yourself wonder why all these records are happening at once: why we’ve had unprecedented megafloods from Australia to Pakistan in the last year. Why it’s just now that the Arctic has melted for the first time in thousands of years. Focus on the immediate casualties, watch the videotape from the store cameras as the shelves are blown over. Look at the anchorman up to the chest of his waders in the rising river.

Because if you asked yourself what it meant that the Amazon has just come through its second hundred-year-drought in the last four years, or that the pine forests across the western part of this continent have been obliterated by a beetle in the last decade—well, you might have to ask other questions. Like, should President Obama really just have opened a huge swath of Wyoming to new coal-mining? Should Secretary of State this summer sign a permit allowing a huge new pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta? You might have to ask yourself: do we have a bigger problem than four-dollar-a-gallon gasoline?

Better to join with the US House of Representatives, which earlier this spring voted 240-184 to defeat a resolution saying simply “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” Propose your own physics; ignore physics altogether. Just don’t start asking yourself if last year’s failed grain harvest from the Russian heatwave, and Queensland’s failed grain harvest from its record flood, and France and Germany’s current drought-related crop failures, and the death of the winter wheat crop in Texas, and the inability of Midwestern farmers to get corn planted in their sodden fields might somehow be related. Surely the record food prices are just freak outliers, not signs of anything systemic.

It’s very important to stay completely calm. If you got upset about any of this, you might forget how important it is not to disrupt the record profits of our fossil fuel companies. If worst ever did come to worst, it’s reassuring to remember what the US Chamber of Commerce told the EPA in a recent filing: there’s no need to worry because “populations can acclimatize to warmer climates via a range of range of behavioral, physiological, and technological adaptations.” I’m pretty sure that’s what they’re telling themselves in Joplin today.

Bill McKibben is founder of the global climate campaign, and Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Stunning Canary Sky Video

El Cielo de Canarias / Canary sky - Tenerife from Daniel López on Vimeo.

This beautiful video comes to us from Daniel Lopez:
Scenes taken from Tenerife, more than 2,000 meters above sea level and over a year to capture all possible shades, clouds, stars, colors from a unique landscape and from one of the best skies on the planet.
Read More.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Unplugging from the Empire"

Take a walk in the forest
Inspiring words for these challenging times from the field of Ecopsycology:

"If you are discouraged, try unplugging" article by Linda Buzzell in Huffington Post:

Ecopsychologist Dr. Craig Chalquist has come up with a nifty and empowering "to do" list for those of us who are feeling discouraged about our individual and collective economic, political and environmental situations. He calls his process "Unplugging from the Empire: 30 Immediate-Impact Action Items."

Chalquist offers "suggestions for withdrawing your support from destructive institutions busy warring, polluting, spying, monopolizing, stealing wealth or ruining air, water, soil, and ocean" and urges us to "make them change or die by depriving them of what they need - and feel better about how you live."

So what's on his list? Here are a few ideas he encourages us to consider:

Move your money from a big (bailed out) bank to a more deserving local bank or credit union...

Wean yourself from the big chain stores...

Buy local food at farmers markets, coops and small local stores...

Don't buy anything you don't really need...

Buy glassware instead of plastic; don't use plastic bags or buy bottled water...

Keep your savings out of the hands of unethical investment speculators (try ethical investing)...

Pay down your credit cards...

Turn off cable TV...

Don't buy books from publishers that print works by the likes of Ann Coulter, Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh etc..

Use ethical phone carriers (e.g.

Use ecotherapy methods like spending time outside, gardening, being around animals, etc. to stay healthy...

Learn the basics of first aid and medical care...

Don't support politicians funded by big petroleum or other questionable industries or lobbyists

Learn about socially responsible investing...

Stay informed by using reputable and alternative news sources...

Reinhabit the place where you live by getting to know its ecology, climate, cultures, prehistory, native flora and fauna and the unique features that make up its spirit or soul...

For good food, networking and resource swapping, start or participate in a community garden.

Just taking a few constructive steps towards sanity can go a long way towards giving us the feeling that what we do really matters at every level. At the very least, we feel better about ourselves (and save money) if we start to live our values. And we also create the possibility that if enough of us stop feeding the machine that is destroying our lives and the planet, it may "change or die." 

For more on Ecotherapy and Ecopsychology, visit the Ecotherapy website and Dr. Craig Chalquist's website.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

About those Carnival Barkers and Sideshows: Why Obama shouldn't have had to 'show his papers'

It is a sad day in America. Goldie Taylor eloquently tells us why:

Read Ms. Taylor's full op-ed piece here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

"For 40 Years, Every Bird Has Mattered" - International Bird Rescue

Oiled Pelicans from Gulf Oil Spill Photo International Bird Rescue
Today is the first anniversary of the Gulf Oil Spill and while many worthy groups assisted in the clean up and continue to advocate for the region, one phenomenal organization stands out to me for their tireless work in saving the birds. International Bird Rescue has been saving birds for 40 years. A new award winning documentary of their efforts follows the rescue of the 895th pelican that they saved last year. Titled "Saving Pelican 895" the documentary first airs on HBO tonight at 9 p.m. See trailer below:

A summary of International Bird Rescue's work in the Gulf from their website:

When the BP Deepwater Horizon well blew out, International Bird Rescue’s team of bird rescue specialists immediately responded with an all-hands-on-deck effort to rescue oiled seabirds and stop the loss of life. International Bird Rescue teamed up with Tri-State Bird Rescue, the lead oiled wildlife organization on the ground, to initiate bird rescue efforts on the water and help staff rehabilitation centers in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida.

This massive oil spill tested the nerves and stamina of our team, as we saw more than 200 million gallons of oil leaked into gulf waters, and over 8,000 birds captured and collected. The oil-stained beaches, marshland and inlets ran from Louisana to Florida. At its busiest moment, Bird Rescue had approximately 88 trained wildlife responders working on this spill. The leaking rig was finally capped on July 15—about 11 weeks after the blowout.

International Bird Rescue and Tri-State Bird Rescue had to navigate politics, the media, and the weather, in finding, collecting, treating and releasing birds suffering from the effects of the oil spill. Thanks to hard work, cooperation and expertise, International Bird Rescue was able to help release 1,246 cleaned birds back to the wild, including Brown Pelicans, Laughing Gulls, Green Herons, Snowy Egrets, Black Oystercatchers, Roseate Spoonbills and many others.


1,246 – Total cleaned birds released back to wild.
8,183 – Total birds captued and collected.
4 – Gulf states where oiled birds were treated.
88 – International Bird Rescue team members on the ground.
6 – Months International Bird Rescue was active in the Gulf.
Pelican waiting to be cleaned Photo Brian Epstein
Spoonbill being cleaned Photo Int'l Bird Rescue
Pelicans Photo Int'l Bird Rescue
Photo Int'l Bird Rescue

Monday, April 11, 2011

Finally! Justice for Mother Earth: Bolivia to pass The Law of Mother Earth

Laguna Verde Bolivia

In the crazy political circus of lets-go-back-to-the-19th-century that seems to be gathering steam in this Divided States of America, climate change deniers, toxic corporations and their henchmen that get away with polluting the environment while paying no taxes, seem to be the ones setting the agenda. Or at least, they are the ones shouting the loudest and the mainstream media gobbles up their insane rhetoric to the detriment of real issues. To say it is disheartening is a staggering understatement.
Nevado Samaja Bolivia
But at least there are some countries on earth that get it. That really get that the fate of Mother Earth is our fate. What happens to the earth affects us. They get that climate change is real, that it is affecting them (as it is affecting all of us) and that a shift is needed from the highest levels of political power. They get that it is long past the time when we should be serious about protecting the environment. They are not waiting any longer for the United Nations to come together on a Climate Change agreement. Today, I applaud the South American country of Bolivia, for being the first country on earth to pass The Law of Mother Earth. Once again, the indigenous people are showing us how it should be done. Now if only we could get some adult behavior from the adolescent jack-asses running things north of the equator. From the Guardian:
Person from Lake Titicaca Bolivia

Bolivia enshrines natural world's rights with equal status for Mother Earth

Law of Mother Earth expected to prompt radical new conservation and social measures in South American nation

Bolivia is set to pass the world's first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country's rich mineral deposits as "blessings" and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.

The country, which has been pilloried by the US and Britain in the UN climate talks for demanding steep carbon emission cuts, will establish 11 new rights for nature. They include: the right to life and to exist; the right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration; the right to pure water and clean air; the right to balance; the right not to be polluted; and the right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.

Controversially, it will also enshrine the right of nature "to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities".

"It makes world history. Earth is the mother of all", said Vice-President Alvaro García Linera. "It establishes a new relationship between man and nature, the harmony of which must be preserved as a guarantee of its regeneration."

The law, which is part of a complete restructuring of the Bolivian legal system following a change of constitution in 2009, has been heavily influenced by a resurgent indigenous Andean spiritual world view which places the environment and the earth deity known as the Pachamama at the centre of all life. Humans are considered equal to all other entities.

But the abstract new laws are not expected to stop industry in its tracks. While it is not clear yet what actual protection the new rights will give in court to bugs, insects and ecosystems, the government is expected to establish a ministry of mother earth and to appoint an ombudsman. It is also committed to giving communities new legal powers to monitor and control polluting industries.
Puna flamingos in Laguna Colorado Bolivia

Bolivia has long suffered from serious environmental problems from the mining of tin, silver, gold and other raw materials. "Existing laws are not strong enough," said Undarico Pinto, leader of the 3.5m-strong Confederación Sindical Única de Trabajadores Campesinos de Bolivia, the biggest social movement, who helped draft the law. "It will make industry more transparent. It will allow people to regulate industry at national, regional and local levels."

Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca said Bolivia's traditional indigenous respect for the Pachamama was vital to prevent climate change. "Our grandparents taught us that we belong to a big family of plants and animals. We believe that everything in the planet forms part of a big family. We indigenous people can contribute to solving the energy, climate, food and financial crises with our values," he said.

Little opposition is expected to the law being passed because President Evo Morales's ruling party, the Movement Towards Socialism, enjoys a comfortable majority in both houses of parliament.
Guanaco herd in Bolivia

However, the government must tread a fine line between increased regulation of companies and giving way to the powerful social movements who have pressed for the law. Bolivia earns $500m (£305m) a year from mining companies which provides nearly one third of the country's foreign currency.

In the indigenous philosophy, the Pachamama is a living being.

The draft of the new law states: "She is sacred, fertile and the source of life that feeds and cares for all living beings in her womb. She is in permanent balance, harmony and communication with the cosmos. She is comprised of all ecosystems and living beings, and their self-organisation."

Ecuador, which also has powerful indigenous groups, has changed its constitution to give nature "the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles, structure, functions and its processes in evolution". However, the abstract rights have not led to new laws or stopped oil companies from destroying some of the most biologically rich areas of the Amazon.

Coping with climate change

Bolivia is struggling to cope with rising temperatures, melting glaciers and more extreme weather events including more frequent floods, droughts, frosts and mudslides.

Research by glaciologist Edson Ramirez of San Andres University in the capital city, La Paz, suggests temperatures have been rising steadily for 60 years and started to accelerate in 1979. They are now on course to rise a further 3.5-4C over the next 100 years. This would turn much of Bolivia into a desert.

Most glaciers below 5,000m are expected to disappear completely within 20 years, leaving Bolivia with a much smaller ice cap. Scientists say this will lead to a crisis in farming and water shortages in cities such as La Paz and El Alto.

Evo Morales, Latin America's first indigenous president, has become an outspoken critic in the UN of industrialised countries which are not prepared to hold temperatures to a 1C rise.

Related post:
Universal Declaration of Planetary Rights

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Cat heart Dolphins

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fake Beach at Blue Lagoon Jamaica Destroys Vital Mangroves

Fake Beach created at Blue Lagoon Jamaica. Photo courtesy Diana McCaulay
Jamaica’s coasts and vital mangroves have been under assault for decades from shoreline over development. Negril has seen its mangroves decimated over the years to make way for yet more large tourism projects. Now word comes that precious little Blue Lagoon in Portland has also fallen victim to one man’s selfish need to create his own beach. It may look pretty in the picture, but know that much killing of important habitat for fish and birds was executed to get this fake beach. Blue Lagoon is Jamaica’s largest spring-fed lagoon and an important marine ecosystem in its own right. I echo the concerns of the Blue Lagoon Restoration Project re-posted from their blog as follows:

The Blue Lagoon Restoration Project is deeply concerned at the actions of a private citizen to clear mangroves in order to construct a private, artificially inseminated beach.

Removal of first generation mangroves, undergrowth and decaying vegetation is a huge mistake which Portland Parish Council, NEPA and people like us must not allow to be repeated. Coastal degradation is an environmental and social issue of national importance. It represents a terrible cost to Blue Lagoon and to Portland's sustainable development and individual dreams.

Mangrove roots are underwater filters and cleaning systems that fishes and marine organisms require - much as trees and plants create oxygen and filter the air we humans breathe. Without clean water, fish die. Without clean water and air, animals and humans die. Decaying plant and animal matter become the soil we need for planting food that our lives depend on.
• mangrove roots underwater systems hide young fish (hatchlings) because larger predator fish cannot maneuver mangrove root nurseries
• all tree root systems help prevent erosion of soil surrounding blue lagoon, removing trees/plants causes hillside soils to wash away
• mangrove canopies (leafy branches) are home, nesting places, rest stops and housing schemes for birds, much like human settlements
• roosting, bird droppings fertilize the soil beneath their canopy, droppings include seeds and other nutrients and natural fertilizers
• bush, plants and undergrowth are home and safe haven for smaller creatures and microcosms
• chopping down trees and plants signals degradation of Nature's support systems sustaining OUR earth
• trees filtering systems create oxygen, roots help stabilize the soil, decayed plant matter creates new soil
• plants take their nutrients from soil and water
• our nutrients come from plants and other species in natures food chain
• when we kill off plants and other species, we are killing our own habitat, and inevitably, our species
Community focus and involvement is the only solution. I ask everyone concerned to help make certain no further damage comes upon the waters and shores surrounding Blue Lagoon.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Radioactive Ocean

The Baker explosion. Part of Operation Crossroads. A nuclear weapons test by U.S. military on Bikini Atoll Micronesia, July 25, 1946 - image via Wikimedia Commons

 The news out of Japan gets grimmer by the day. From the New York Times today:
[In] the past days, work at [Japan's] most severely damaged reactors, Nos. 1 through 3, has slowed, after the discovery of highly radioactive water around and inside the reactor buildings. Last week, three workers were injured after stepping into radioactive water at Reactor No. 3. The water has now accumulated inside the turbine buildings of the three reactors and is now making its way through separate underground tunnels and nearing the tops of their vertical openings, just 200 feet from the sea, officials say.  

The radioactive ocean and all of the previous instances of dumping of nuclear waste in the ocean is the subject of Julia Whitty's latest post at Mother Jones. It is a sobering and appalling reminder of the environmental devastation we have unleashed by developing, testing and using nuclear bombs and nuclear energy. When will it stop? How many more lives have to be destroyed by radiation sickness? How many more deaths from cancers caused by radiation pollution? How much more catastrophe must be wrought on the earth? This affects all life on this planet. From Whitty's article:

The compass of news the past few days has swung to a new North—to the rising measurements of radioactivity in the waters off Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The transmission of radionuclides through the physical and biological webs of ocean and atmosphere is dynamic and far-reaching, since the contamination is carried by waves and winds and life itself.

Radioactive pollution in the ocean is nothing new. We've been loosing the stuff offshore since 1944. Here's how.

1) Nuclear weapons tests:

For example, at Bikini Atoll between 1946 and 1958, the US detonated 23 atmospheric nuclear bomb tests, including the first hydrogen bomb, which exploded far more violently than predicted and contaminated a swath of ocean 100 miles/160 kilometers away from the epicenter. The fallout affected inhabited islands, fishing boats and fishers at sea, and, obviously, a lot of marine life.

France exploded 193 nuclear tests in the atmosphere and in the waters of French Polynesia between 1966 and 1996. The tests began after the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty outlawing detonations in the air. I wrote about this in my book THE FRAGILE EDGE:

The [first] bomb was exploded aboard a barge in the [Moruroa's] lagoon, sucking water into the air and raining dead fish, corals, cephalopods, crustaceans, mollusks, and all the once living components of the reef onto Moruroa’s motu [islands], where their radioactive forms decayed for weeks. Confounded by this result, the French hastily arranged to explode their second bomb seventeen days later from an air plane 45,000 feet above the featureless South Pacific, some 60 miles south of Moruroa. Without people or equipment to witness, record, or analyze this distant blast, virtually no data was collected, making its detonation more an act of pique than science. Two days later, as described by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists:

An untriggered bomb on the ground [at Moruroa] was exposed to a “security test.” While it did not explode, the bomb’s case cracked and its plutonium contents spilled over the reef. The contaminated area was "sealed" by covering it with a layer of asphalt.

2) Sinking of nuclear-powered submarines:

So far, eight nuclear-powered submarines have sunk or been scuttled: two American, four Soviet; two Russian.

Four in the North Atlantic, three in the Barents Sea, one in the Kara Sea north of Siberia.

Another accident in 1968 in the North Pacific 1,796 miles / 2,890 kilometers northwest of the Hawaiian island of Oahu led to the sinking of a diesel-electric Soviet sub sank carrying nuclear ballistic missiles.
Wreck of Russian submarine K-141 Kursk in a floating dock at Roslyakovo. via Wikimedia Commons

3) Spacecraft and satellite failures, including:

The launch failure in 1964 of an American navigation satellite with an onboard radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG)—an electrical generator fueled by radioactive decay. This fell into the ocean near Madagascar and deposited a quantity of plutonium-238 equal to half the amount of plutonium-238 naturally present in the entire World Ocean.

The failed Apollo 13 mission (1970) jettisoned its Lunar Module Aquarius with the intention that it would crash into the sea and plummet into the Pacific's Tonga Trench—one of the the deepest places on our planet—since it was still carrying its RTG with plutonium dioxide fuel. So far no plutonium-238 has been recorded in nearby atmospheric and seawater sampling, suggesting the cask is currently intact on the seabed.

At least four other RTG-powered spacecraft have fallen to Earth, including one into the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel off California in 1968.

Between 1973 and 1993, at least five Soviet/Russian RORSAT satellites failed to eject their nuclear reactor cores prior to falling back to Earth. One fell into the Pacific north of Japan (1973), another over Canada's Northwest Territories (1978), another in the South Atlantic (1983). The successfully ejected cores are in still orbit, destined to plummet back to Earth someday.

4) Discharges from nuclear reprocessing and power plants:
Britain's Sellafield (aka Windscale) is a nuclear storage site, an erstwhile nuclear weapons production plant, nuclear reprocessing center, and nuclear power plant, currently in the process of decommissioning. Due to accidents, chronic emissions, and overflows at Sellafield, the nearby Irish Sea is deemed the most radioactive sea on Earth.

The Hanford Site in Washington—home to the world's first plutonium production reactor—purposely released radionuclides down the Columbia River from the 1940s to the 1970s. The contamination travelled hundreds of miles into the Pacific Ocean. Today the radionuclides are used as markers by oceanographers tracking sediment movements on the continental shelf.

5) Ocean dumps:

Dump sites for radioactive waste were created in the northeast Atlantic (1 site), off Europe (3), off the US eastern seaboard (1), and off the US Pacific coast (1).

Between 1946 and 1970, the US dumped ~107,000 drums of radioactive wastes at its two sites, including some 47,800 in the ocean west of San Francisco, supposedly at three designated sites. However drums actually litter an area of at least 1,400 square kilometers/540 square miles, known as the Farallon Island Radioactive Waste Dump, which now falls almost entirely within the boundaries of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. The exact location of most drums is unknown. At least some are corroding.

A 1996 paper in Health Physics described some of the radionuclides found in the tissues of deep-sea bottom-feeding fishes—Dover sole, sablefish, and thornyheads—plus intertidal mussels in the waters around the Farallon Islands:

Concentrations of both [plutonium-238] and [Americium-241] in fish tissues were notably higher than those reported in literature from any other sites world-wide, including potentially contaminated sites. These results show approximately 10 times higher concentrations of [plutonium-238+240] and approximately 40-50 times higher concentrations of [plutonium-238] than those values reported for identical fish species from 1977 collections at the [Farallon Islands Nuclear Waste Dump Site].

Of course the fallen satellites, the sunken submarines, the leftovers from nuclear bomb tests, and the dumped drums of waste are all subject to saltwater corrosion and the same destructive tectonic forces that triggered the March 11th Sendai earthquake and tsunami. ~Julia Whitty. See full post here.