Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Hug a Tree

Back in 1947 a Norwegian explorer and writer named Thor Heyerdahl built a raft called the “Kon-Tiki”. He sailed for over 100 days across the Pacific Ocean and made a documentary in 1951. I saw the film and one particular point that he made never left my memory. He said that not a day went by that he didn’t encounter trash floating in the water. This was over a half century ago and pollution of the ocean was well on its way even back then. Frankly, I found that upsetting enough that I have never forgotten it.

More recently scientists have discovered a floating island of trash in the Pacific ocean estimated to be somewhere in size between Texas and the continental United States. This mass of trash consists primarily of plastic, which doesn’t biodegrade. It photo degrades and does breakdown into smaller particles, but it never actually “goes away.” Plastic kills sea life and even when broken down into small particles it is passed through various forms of sea life and eventually to fish that we eat. Evidence indicates that there may be a connection to various health problems in humans as a result.

There is no excuse for this kind of irresponsibility. We have a responsibility to take care of the earth and we have the means to do it. We should take that responsibility seriously. Personally I get very angry when I read about how we are messing up our planet.

I live in the forest. I love nature. I take my dog for a hike in the woods almost daily and it’s great. But I’m disgusted by the childish and irresponsible behavior of some people. Even in our beautiful area people dump trash, car parts, and anything imaginable on their property and elsewhere. There’s no excuse for that just as there is no excuse for industrial waste dumped in rivers and the ocean. I was told I had six months to live after swimming in a bay in Costa Rica that I didn’t know was polluted with industrial and medical waste.

So I’m very pro-environment. But I don’t buy man-made global warming or man caused climate change. I don’t understand the hubris of those who think man is more powerful than the sun, solar activity and the electromagnetic forces impacting the earth. The climate of the earth has always been in flux.

The recent volcanic eruption in Iceland probably did more damage to the environment than all the emissions from automobiles, backyard barbeques, and bovine flatulence combined. But the environment will heal from this just as it did from the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption.

Cap and Trade has more to do with the world economy, enriching a select few and a general transfer of wealth than protecting the environment. And the environmental movement has become a religion. It’s anti-capitalism, tyrannical and sometimes just plain stupid.

There are extremes in every movement. A famous female entertainer told a TV audience that she uses only one square of toilet paper in order to save the environment. Nobody shook hands with her. A well-intentioned scientist changed the diet of his cows to cut down on bovine flatulence. Another guy wants to utilize methane gas productively by connecting old Bessie to his outdoor barbeque.

Other geniuses decide to use corn as fuel, which encourages people in third world countries to clear-cut rain forests in order to grow corn and make a quick buck. Ironically, the forest soil left after the land has been cleared can’t support corn crops and is rapidly washed away by the tropical rains. So now we’ve lost a valuable natural resource and a source for much of our medicine while attempting to produce fuel to drive our cars to a mall where fertile farmland has been covered in concrete.

Pogo once said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” He got that right.


  1. Hey Ralph! Great thought provoking post. Is the "Island of Trash" real and if so where is it? I'd love to see it and find out if it's real, why someone isn't doing something about it.

  2. Hi Malcolm -
    Yes. It is real, unfortunately, and is located somewhere in the Pacific Ocean where several currents merge and swirl, trapping trash. It covers a vast area, but I'll have to find my source on that to locate it exactly. Sadly there are other islands of trash in the ocean too. I'm with you. I think there should be a way to clean it up. And a way to stop further polution.