2005/06/10

Good News For The Pacific And Our Planet

In a world controlled by supra national corporations, protecting the environment is a daunting task. It can be discouraging when we learn, as we did this week, that certain politicians turn to ExxonMobil (whose products produce greenhouse gases) to find out how best to set a policy on global warming that "is acceptable to them", and employ someone who previously worked as oil industry lobbyist to edit the government's own reports on the subject in order to water them down even further. One can only stand agog and wonder what view of the future such people in business and government have for their own children and grandchildren.

But just as water dripping on rock will eventually cut through the stone, persistence pays off. Two cases have recently brought some results, if only partial ones at this point, that offer hope that each individual getting off the couch and doing something will in fact make a difference.

In one case, Disney was confronted with a barrage of complaints from environmentalists about Disney's plan to serve shark fin soup at their soon to be opened theme park in Hong Kong. Shark Fin soup is a traditional way for Hong Kong families to show off their wealth by serving the expensive dish ($400 a bowl) at wedding receptions.
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Why care about sharks? Well, as John Muir once said, "When one tugs at a single thing in nature, one finds it attached to the rest of the world." There are fifty-six species of shark on the endangered list. A hundred million are killed each year, usually by catching them in nets or on longlines, cutting off the fin, and then throwing the still living shark back into the water. Numbers of some species have declined by 90% in the last 15 years.

Disney hopes to placate the dissenters by promising to pass out brochures on the subject to visitors and is considering the use of only those fins from suppliers who use the entire shark. Pressure still needs to be put on Disney to stop them from participating in this cruel and ecologically disastrous practice in the name of profit.

A larger victory has been scored with Coca-Cola. Coke machines are ubiquitous in our world, of course, as are its bottling facitlities. In the run up to the 2000 Olympic games in Sydney, Coke, McDonalds and Unilever (think Ben & Jerry's ice cream and Bird's Eye foods) , were brought under pressure by groups such as Greenpeace and Adbusters for using HFCs as a refrigerant. HFCs (hydrofluorocarbons) are powerful greenhouse agents.

To their credit, industry worked with Greenpeace on a solution called "Greenfreeze" and Coke tested non-HFC machines in Europe, Japan, and Australia. COCA-COLA IS NOW REPLACING ALL THEIR VENDING MACHINES IN JAPAN with the new technology. McDonalds, Unilever, and others are following suit.
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The change will prevent 70,000 tons of carbon from entering our atmosphere by the year 2010.

These cases illustrate that if enough people get off the couch (or the tatami mats) and do something, good changes are possible. If you have an issue that concerns you, do not sit and complain or worse, ignore what is going on with the world. Write letters or send emails to newspapers, congress, companies involved, even governments other than your own. Contribute to an organization that is active on that issue. We also pays our money and makes our choice, so you can choose not to buy products from irresponisble corporations. Together, not only can we change the future, hopefully we can make sure we all have a future.

"One salt water", you know.

1 comment:

The Moody Minstrel said...

Then, at the same time, you also get morons like Bjorn Lomborg, that Danish economics professor who suddenly decided he was an "environmentalist" and got a book published about how global warming is really no big deal and how trying to fight it is a stupid idea.

Among his many gems:
a. Recycling only makes sense if we are running short on natural resources. We aren't, so recycling is pointless.
b. Climate change caused by global warming will really only cause significant damage to third world countries. Industrialized nations, on the other hand, won't be affected as much. Therefore, it doesn't make sense for industrialized nations to hamper their economies by worrying about global warming.
c. Global warming may actually prove beneficial, as warmer climates in nations such as Denmark will help boost agricultural production.

His book is now a best seller.