Many years ago, when I was in my 20s, I lived in a small apartment in New Haven, Connecticut. I had a chair, a bed, a lamp and some books, and that was about it. I particularly lacked items for my kitchen, and I needed to eat, so I began searching for cooking utensils.
The weather folks said the low tonight is supposed to be 21 degrees below zero. The last six weeks have been tough like that. I bought a new stove for the yurt, but ordered the wrong pipe three different times. Again, I fall asleep staring at the tape that covers the hole in the wall where the stovepipe should be.
At the age of 18, Yvon Chouinard founded a small blacksmithing company that would later, almost by accident, grow into Patagonia, Inc., an innovative, environmentally conscious outdoor retailer. Yvon’s love of nature developed as a child and at the age of 14, while training to be a falconer, he began a momentously successful rock-climbing career that took him all over the world.
In my quarter century of stupid stunts, I’ve had enough near-death experiences that I’ve accepted the fact that I’m going to die someday. I’m not too bothered by it. There is a beginning and end to all life – and to all human endeavors.
At a recent forum on corporate sustainability, it occurred to me that all the presentations were in some form related to innovation. New technologies for renewable energies, more efficient packaging, reducing transportation, reducing toxics, reducing water usage, recycling materials.
This is the place. A secret mid-river bucket that holds fish even when there’s a parade of anglers pounding the water ahead of you. I pull back hard on the oars and drop anchor. The boat lurches to a halt.
If there were seven wonders of the world’s destruction, the tar sands complex in Alberta might well be first on the list. It’s an assembly of devastation so brutal and absurd as to beggar the imagination – but that’s why we have Google Earth, so you can log on and see for yourself.
For decades, natural gas (methane) deposits were tapped by single wells drilled vertically over large, free-flowing pockets of gas. Then came fracking, a water- and chemical-intensive method that promised the profitable extraction of natural gas trapped in shale. Increasing production of an energy source long touted as greener than coal seems like a win, but fracking is a Faustian bargain
China’s Pearl River runs black from indigo dye discharged by denim factories in Xintang, Guangzhou – the “Blue Jeans Capital of the World.” A satellite photo from a well-known environmental group shows it quite clearly. The wastewater from dyeing 200 million pairs of blue jeans a year flows mostly untreated from the denim factories into the river.
Across the world, nitrogen runoff from synthetic pesticides and fertilizers is creating aquatic dead zones in freshwater lakes and in oceans, killing off species of fish and crustaceans. Called eutrophication, these dead zones are growing exponentially.
Another of the world’s rivers is being laid on the slab, an enormous turquoise wanderer flowing out of the Southern Andes. The largest river in Chile, the Rio Baker is undammed from source to sea. For the moment.