By Dee McLachlan
The Bobolas family had been been hoarding for over 26 years. Their Bondi Beach, Sydney, home (above) was then forcibly sold in 2016, so the council could recover approximately $160,000 in cleaning costs. The council probably sent the trash to the Bronte tip (below).
by Dee McLachlan
In cities across the globe you get hoarders. It used to be be considered an OCD mental disorder sub-type, but in the new edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5, 2013), “hoarding disorder” is now listed as a separate mental disorder.
Some hoarders can be treated successfully. There is hope. But what is the difference between those mentally ill people — and you, and me?
We sane people prefer sending our trash to another place — where we can’t see it, and can just forget about it.
In the future the rest of us might be diagnosed with PDD — “Pollution Denial Disorder” — the inability to gauge our actions, and be in denial about our negative footprint on the planet.
Gaia — A Closed System
The Gaia Paradigm describes earth as a living, self-regulating system. James Lovelock, now 97, the distinguished scientist that came up with the Gaia theory, proposed that “life is an agent in its own survival.” The way earth’s chemicals and temperatures exist in balanced proportions make earth an ideal place to survive. In his book he says:
“Life on Earth was… an almost utterly improbable event with almost infinite opportunities of happening. So it did.”
Our understanding of earth, and how it works is still in its infancy. As Lovelock now says (referring to climate), “Anyone who tries to predict more than five to 10 years is a bit of an idiot…”
This article is about pollution — in a vast “closed” ecosystem.
Like the hoarder’s quarter-acre plot, humanity has a plot called “earth” which is only 12,742 km in diameter. That’s it. There is no more.
The majority of the Earth’s surface is covered by oceans (71%) with the remaining 29% being land. Of that, a third is desert.
When I was filming a documentary in the deserts of Northern Sudan in the early 2000s, we were advised not to camp near the towns, due to malaria. So our guide would drive us off the beaten tracks — deep into the pristine desert. I noticed that there was not a track or footprint. Our guide said one day, “It never rains, so your footprints will be in the sand here for thousands of years.”
Consider this: at this point in time, there are seven billion of us all leaving our footprint.
Interestingly, as a general rule, the wealthier the country — the more it pollutes. And the more “sophisticated” the population — the greater number of people suffering from PDD (Pollution Denial Disorder).
The world’s richest 10% produce half of the (carbon) emissions, while the poorest half contribute about 10%. It is clear that the richer countries are bigger polluters of chemicals and toxins into the air, land and sea.
Every year, up to 13 million tons of plastics ends up in the oceans. About 80 percent of that waste comes from just 20 countries — China, the biggest offender.
Polluting the Oceans
In 2015, a National Geographic article stated that there are 5.25 trillion pieces of plastic debris in the ocean.
Of that mass, 269,000 tons of pieces float on the surface. The deep sea is littered with an estimated four billion plastic microfibers per square kilometer!
These are numbers estimated by the 5 Gyres Institute, a nonprofit ocean advocacy group, over four years.
The floating garbage caught in the gyer in the Pacific Trash Vortex. The “island” or extent of the floating garbage is said to be twice the size of Texas
I won’t debate Nat Geo’s agenda, but what is happening is that the oceans are being poisoned and polluted.
All kinds of pollutants — chemicals, oil spills, plastics, industrial, agricultural and residential waste, radioactive waste, or the spread of invasive organisms — end up in the sea. Most sources of marine pollution come from the land.
We thus contaminate our only “home.”
These toxins and plastics are entering the food chain — affecting every bio-system in the ocean.
We may not feel or understand the impact now, but there is no doubt future generations will be impacted by over-pollution of the oceans. Its almost impossible to gauge the adverse effects on populations at this time, but it is evident that these toxic chemicals are not healthy for our planet — or our future existence.
By 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. And that’s only plastic. What about all the fertilizers, heavy metals, and chemicals?
Imagine looking into your fish tank and seeing more rubbish than fish. Fearing that your fish might die, you would most likely quickly clean out the tank.
We should ask: what will the state of the ocean be in only 50 years time? And how are we going to correct this?
I imagine there is a company designing the “ocean vacuum ships”, that could turn a profit by recycling millions of tons of ocean plastic.
In 1989 I spent 6 weeks living in Hollywood, Los Angeles. Every day was a smog day. By early afternoon I would have a headache, and was popping Aspirin. It was four weeks before I was able to see the famous Hollywood sign in the Hollywood Hills.
By the time I returned to live there in the mid 90s, new legislation had forced cleaner cars — and I used to see the sign on most days. The city was in the process of cleaning up their act.
In 1970 President Richard Nixon signed the Clean Air Act and the newly established EPA to regulate seven harmful chemicals. It was updated in 1977 and then again in 1990.
The sprawling Greater Los Angeles area is home to nearly 20 million people — almost matching the population of Australia. If we are going to sustain modern cities this large, humans are going to have to be smart. We are going to need new leaders, too.
Presently I believe our leaders are distracting us with “climate change,” or “global warming” — with all the science focused on CO2 emissions. In fact people in colder climes are almost relishing the idea of warmer summers.
Yet, so little is said about the toxic waste we are pumping into our system.
I compare this to the fast food consumer — who becomes obese and unhealthy as a result. This individual is gulping down junk food and laying the foundation for heart disease. Humanity is no different.
Trash surfer in Indonesia
The big end of town contains the biggest culprits.
There are so many examples of multinationals destroying rain forests and natural ecosystems. The profit motive reigns. These companies naturally have no soul, no conscience. They only have shareholders.
It is time these companies were held to account.
The problem is that modern urban humans are detached from the environment, detached from the earth. We suffer from PDD — pollution denial disorder, and the consequences of pouring toxins down the drain and putting pesticides on our vegetables is going to bequeath huge problems to future generations.
We really need to start educating ourselves on the impacts of pollution, and to discipline our mega-businesses. Maybe we should be tipping their toxins back into their boardrooms.
We need to act urgently, and seek a cure for Pollution Denial Disorder.
Photo credit - Dede Zak, trash surfer