Thinking Green gives me the Blues
Call me irresponsible. Call me apathetic. Call me out of touch with reality. But when I think of green, I don’t think of the environment. I think of the band Greenday. I think of St. Paddy’s Day when we dye our waterways and our beer green. I think of greenbacks and an ugly ass car I had many years ago. I think of the green uniforms that the Red Sox, the fighting Irish, and the BC eagles wear when they want a victory. I think of the Green Bay Packers, the Boston Celtics, and the Oakland A’s.
When I think of the environment, I think blue. I live in Florida where the skies and the oceans are always blue. And ever since I started thinking about writing a blog on Green Ethics, I have had the blues.
I had the privilege of serving in the United States Navy. Okay, it wasn’t so much a privilege as it was getting very drunk and promising my friend that I would join up with him the next day. (Call me irresponsible but call my friend something worse because he did not follow through on our commitment to each other.) I spent three years at sea. I sailed all of the oceans – Pacific, Atlantic, India, Arctic, and Southern. The Navy’s policy then was: No dumping until we were 50 miles offshore. I just happened to be in charge of the Sewage Treatment Plan (STP) and the Chemical Holding Tanks (CHTs).
While at sea, if there was no maintenance to perform, we painted. So of the over 2000 spaces on the ship, on average we painted 20-30 spaces each week. We would have at least 100 5-gallon paint buckets to dispose of and the ocean was our designated disposal area. Once we were 50 miles out to sea, we dumped the paint cans (albeit in paper bags). I had the only key to the CHTs and only one time did it ever come up as to where it was and how to use it. I wonder what happened to all of our oil and other chemicals because I was never asked to open the valves on the tanks to store those liquids. Out to sea is the only logical assumption. Call me apathetic, but at the time, I only followed orders and lost no sleep thinking about this.
In 1991, my ship had more than 3000 troops aboard and we spent 194 days in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. 3000 men produce a lot of trash. We did not have an incinerator for burning. Every three days, we would steam until we were 51 miles from land, and then we would dump treated sewage and trash into the ocean. For the next hour, 100 men would throw bags overboard. We would do this every three days. One time, we went several weeks before dumping. On that day, 300 men spent two hours throwing the waste into the ocean. Let me just say, it was pretty nasty getting to those last twenty bags that had been sitting on the ship since day one. (Call me – and you – out of touch with reality. Where did we think all of the waste from 200 Navy ships and a significant number of luxury cruise liners was going?)
Since getting this blog assignment, I did some research and found out that over 100,000 marine animals die each year because of water pollution, and that there is a place called the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch. It consists of 3 billion tons of trash and is now its own island rumored to be twice the size of Texas. Garbage (mostly plastics) just sitting there, festering in the sun.
When we feel down, we call it the “blues.” I don’t have the answers but I know our earth is going down if we don’t find better ways to take care of our blue oceans. I want my grandkids and their grandkids to enjoy the beaches as I do. I want them to run to me with beautiful shells instead of broken bits of glass or other trash. (Yes, I am a grandpa; look for more details in future blogs).
Call me responsible. Call me empathetic. Call me in touch with reality. I think blue is the new green.