, Newburyport, MA


May 28, 2013

Oceans apart


What Jonny wouldn’t notice during his Atlantic and Pacific swims is that our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic because of the rising carbon levels, which makes life hard for creatures for which the water is their world, not just a fun place to visit.

In recent weeks, I’ve seen a video — “The True Cost of Oil” — by Canadian photographer Garth Lenz, which portrays a wondrous landscape, the boreal forest of Canada, being turned into a vast industrial wasteland by the extraction of fossil fuels, turning Canada from a climate champion into a climate villain.

My trip to see the sheer size of the United States of America and many of its wonders more than 60 years ago was such a positive experience. It included the little oil derricks that we spotted, going up and down in perpetual motion, not threatening at all.

How different it would be if I flew over Canada’s boreal forest today, where the planet’s dirtiest tar sands oil is being pumped out of the ground using huge amounts of water that is polluted and left in holding lakes, where neither Jonny nor I could swim.

The extraction of tar sands oil in Alberta is turning what was a “carbon sink” — the boreal forest — into a “carbon bomb,” Lenz says, and that doesn’t count how much more this tar sands oil will pollute our air when it is refined and burned to heat our homes, generate our electricity and power our cars.

Speaking of generating electricity, we have a carbon villain much closer to home with the Brayton Point coal-fired power plant in Somerset. Coal Is Stupid has already begun the protest by anchoring a lobster boat called the Henry David T. where a coal ship was due to dock, delaying the delivery for a day.

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