Well now. The crisis is officially over.
We’ve purged our pipes, thrown out the metallic tasting boiled water and just for kicks we’re making our coffee with the last of the 10 gallons of bottled water that we drove all over the city to find.
Yep, life is back to normal and in another two days this short inconvenience will be nothing but a memory. And yet it shouldn’t disappear from our view so easily. The last few days should have heightened our awareness of just how important our environment is to us and how fragile it is. I actually got word of the water main break after attending a “Wake Up The Earth” festival in Jamaica Plain. How very ironic. Perhaps the theme for the festival should have been “Wake Up The Humans”.
We have a huge oil spill in the Atlantic which threatens to do damage to the environment that will take more than 20 years to alleviate. Some coastal shorelines may never recover. Some small fishing and shrimping enterprises will inevitably fail.
As visible as this catastrophe is, many other risks continue unchecked. For example, the technology exists to create “double hulled” oil tankers that are virtually rupture proof and yet no nation or group of nations has mandated their use. The oil companies will not voluntarily undertake the expense to protect our planet and so with amazing regularity we hear of ships run aground and leaking huge amounts oil into our oceans.
Of course, we fail to connect the dots on these individual violations of the ecosystem. We see them as an event here and an event there, but sooner or later these individual damages collectively become one giant poison in our oceans.
Even on our personal levels, we as individuals exhibit an extremely cavalier attitude towards mother earth. When I walk along the shores of Cape Cod photographing, I bring contractor bags with me. No matter where I am, I have no difficulty filling the bag with plastic bottles, snack packaging, cigarette butts and other carelessly discarded trash. As I pick up other peoples trash I remember a TV advertisement from long ago as a Native American watches passengers in a passing car toss a bag of trash from the windows and a tear flows down his solemn face. Some days I have a tear too.
Today the immediate crisis in New England is over but we must consider our environment and our actions and how they affect the earth and oceans. If we don’t there may come a day when the shortage of potable water is more than a few days of inconvenience. The last few days were only a taste of what may come.