Thursday, April 03, 2008

Fouling the Nest

Having recently posted on the assiduous encroachment of development at the expense of green space, I now turn my worries to a story I heard of only recently.

There is a huge garbage pile of plastic floating in the Pacific! Now, I am a fervent recycler--I have been recycling since before recycling was fashionable or even required by local laws. We used to save all our glass (divided by green, brown, and clear), our newspapers and our plastic containers. Then once a month we drove to a nearby collection center. About ten years ago, our township instituted weekly collection, simplifying recycling.

In addition to recycling, I try to be conscientious, requesting paper, not plastic, or better yet buying my own reusable bags. But, I am sure I could do more. I confess to buying bottled water--as George Carlin has observed: when did people decide they needed their own portable water supply?

I guess what I am driving at is that I consider myself environmentally aware, and even caring. I know I have a larger carbon footprint than someone living somewhere in Africa, but I do try to be less consuming. So, I was stunned to read about this plastic garbage dump. It seems the ocean currents in the Pacific have gathered up and trapped mountains and mountains of plastic trash. The brave organization Greenpeace has
documented this phenomena. Estimates vary on the size: one estimate said double the size of Texas, and another said it is equal to the land mass of Africa.

To give you an idea of why this plastic collects in the Pacific, check out this animation of plastic in Pacific caught in
vortex of ocean currents (from Greenpeace). And here's a link to a CBS news report on the subject:

We are fouling our nest.

Now to another aspect of fouling. . .

While talking with a colleague at my community college the other day, she told me when she advises students which English professor to take, she gently steers them away from one particular professor. Apparently, there is someone at my college who tells students to include as many swear words as they want in their writing--after all, they should be learning to express themselves.

I was astonished to learn this. Not because I am such a paragon of virtue, mind, but because I thought we were to be teaching students how to write in a formal context. Having spent quite some time in the business world, I have never encountered swearing in writing in the business world. Oh, to be sure, such language probably is used in some places. But not in my composition classes.

Here's why. I want students to expand their vocabularies. And I tell students that when they swear, they are demonstrating a paucity of language. Predictably, they say--huh? So I just say--look it up.

I came across a site that analyzes blog content for swearing.
Here's my "score"-

The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

Created by

I am no angel, but I do try to practice what I preach. Rich vocabulary here, folks, not salty.

I suppose if I were to swear in my blog it would be in response to the problem of the plastic garbage dump. And, it would go something like this: what the hell is wrong with us humans?


Beverly said...

While I know that our colleges and universities do not have paragons of virtue for professors, I find that rather astonishing too that one would encourage including swear words in their papers to express themselves.

I used to read one particular blog which usually had wonderful posts, but then there were some that had such trashy language that I decided to go there no longer.

The idea of the plastic in the Pacific Ocean is dreadful.

Ruth said...

That video is most unsettling especially the last few frames that show all the trash in the water near Los Angeles.
Good for you for upholding good language use!

dguzman said...

I heard about the huge plastic-filled area--it's the size of Texas! Terrible.

JeanMac said...

One day (at the office), the subject of swearing came up - no, not in regard to staff, just generally. My boss made a good observation. He feels people swear when they can't find proper word to express themselves - sue to ignorance.

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

You really must ban plastic water bottles. If we have a need to buy tap water we should be able to get it in glass.
Maybe the day will come when it will be commercially viable to mine the floating garbage.

My cuss level is the same as yours. I guess "Damn" doesn't count. This is the one expletive I allow myself.

Anonymous said...

Going green is very important for not only us but our earth! Every little bit is important! We all can make a difference!

Ginnie said...

Lots to think about. Thanks...and I heartily agree about the swearing. I always figure that is just a lazy way of talking and I hate it.

Beverly said...

Hi, Donna,
I spent quite a while last night reading your posts about Africa. I did enjoy them so much.