Friday, 14 March 2008

Fouling our nest




My dear friend M, has just mailed me this year's Photo Awards from National Geographic - sublime, heartrendingly beautiful images from across our cosmos. I've gracelessly replied with 1500 images collected on my International flytipping pool on Flickr - described thus:

Let's publish and circulate pictures, with analysis and reflection, of flytipping in beautiful places - sometimes opportunistic, sometimes official. By 'beautiful' I don't only mean blighting a rural landscape but also in a city shopping street.
Flytipping is sometimes laziness, sometimes greed, but is usually part of the market conditions affecting the disposal of waste material. Let's learn more about causes.
Flytipping is the illegal dumping of waste, varying in scale from one plastic bottle in the Mississippi, dog excrement on a sidewalk in Brighton, a piece of used chewing gum stuck where you sit, walk or put your hand on a bus in Melbourne, through discarded plastic bags of household trash up a cul-de-sac in Birmingham, to massive quantities of industrial detritus dumped from trucks across continents, poisononous waste flowing through the oceans pole to pole, to the growing debris orbiting the earth (to see the range, tour the images in the Group).
Fly-tipped waste includes almost everything you can imagine. Some would view it as a archaeologist's delight - but our midden (the incredible amount of rubbish we humans produce) is engulfing us often beyond the capacities and will of government policies to address the problem.
Tyres and all imaginable remains of cars and trucks, white goods, mattresses, window frames, plastic bottles, hi-tech materials such as in the icon of the group, powders, liquids - some toxic - in containers, and clinical waste. You name it. You photograph it. You post it.
Who does it? Why do they do it? Where do they do it? Why do we do it? Where does this stuff go - into the ground, into the water table, into land-fill, into the oceans, into space? Ponder the internationally driven phenomenon in Greece of yearning-burning-earning. What can be done about it? How can we learn to live more lightly on the earth, re-using, recycling, perhaps never using in the first place?
Manufacturers are beginning at the point of manufacture to ask how something they make can re-enter the economy or the environment as something benign and even useful. Government's and corporations are beginning to place prices, sometimes taxes, on things sold that will include the cost of their sustainable disposal.
Seeing the pictures posted and the comments that accompany them, I'm already learning from administering this group. The images tell a story that can go beyond words but I value the comments that complement the photographs - whether these simply locate the flytipping in time and space or whether they add explanation and conjecture about why flytipping happens and what we can do (and some are doing) about this global habit of wastefulness.
I am always hopeful. This is not about the earth which has merely to do the equivalent of a shrug and in a few million years - nothing in geological time - humans will have become no more than a radioactive stratum laced with particles of plastic. It is about us as a species and the others with whom we share this space. Can we stop fouling our nest?
Look up and see the criss-cross of contrails scratching the blue - as though a giant were trying to claw his way into our delicate ecosphere. I'll call it 'skytipping' ...

And, yes, I fly. Why do we foul our own nest?

* * *
And just when was working myself into a morass or morosity another of my friends, John, sent me this film about Copenhagen, with links to lots of other signs of hope from 'Contested Streets' to Street Films and realise that there plenty of people out there waging peace.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Back numbers