Public Comment

Wetlands Versus Human Ignorance

By Jack Bragen
Sunday May 30, 2010 - 03:35:00 PM

My wife and I used to ride Amtrak between Martinez and Klamath Falls a couple of times a year to visit relatives. Amtrak dubbed this train route, “The Coast Starlight.” I would recommend this train to my worst enemy. 

The train would often stop for several hours at a time as it waited for tracks to become available. Amtrak has a lower priority than freight trains in this area. One time we were delayed on this train for approximately twelve hours. I could complain much more, but it is off subject. 

On one trip, as the train was traveling over a wide expanse of marsh, the train engineer over the loudspeakers explained to us the significance of the wetlands that exist here in the San Francisco Bay Area. These wetlands are the biggest that exist anywhere on the planet. They play an extremely important role in the ecosystem that supports life on Earth. They are host to thousands upon thousands of species including insects, amphibians, reptiles, birds, fish and mammals. Without these wetlands, the ecosystems on the Earth could go into a tailspin, one in which massive amounts of life everywhere would perish. 

The destruction of the Marsh in Florida due to petroleum is an extremely significant development on multiple levels. We will not know the full effects on the biosphere of the Earth until several decades have passed. The fact that the seafood industry will be devastated, as well as the tourist industry in that area, coupled with the reduction in offshore drilling that ought to take place, will be another blow to the economy. 

The change in our environmental system that will take place, as a domino effect on the environment, could become as massive as the one that led to the extinction of the dinosaurs. 

The wetlands in the Bay Area are similarly important to our existence and are similarly vulnerable to the effects of a petroleum accident. We must not jeopardize the west coast with more offshore drilling. 

In the 1970’s, Charleton Heston starred in a movie called, “Soylent Green.” The movie was roughly based on a short story by science fiction author Harry Harrison. The scenario of the movie included global warming, and was about an extremely overpopulated Earth in which people fought for basic necessities such as food and water, as well as a place to sleep. 

At the end of this movie it turns out that the ocean is dying due to overharvesting and overpolluting. This is a doomsday scenario since the plankton in the ocean provides about eighty percent of the breathable oxygen in our air. 

I believe that this oil slick is bad enough to bring about such a doomsday scenario. The quantity that seems to be spewing upward based on the reports that I’ve seen might mean that if this leak isn’t soon halted, it could contaminate the entire ocean. And that, my friends, will spell the end of us. 

Our politicians ought to realize that the life their saving by addressing this problem could be their own.