Canary in a Coal Mine: An Environmental Manifesto

Canary in a Coal Mine
Canary in a Coal Mine



An allusion to caged canaries mining workers would carry down into the tunnels with them. If dangerous gases such as methane or carbon monoxide leaked into the mine-shaft, the gases would kill the canary before killing the miners.


canary in a coal mine

  1. A warning of danger or trouble yet to come.


I have long been aware of the role of the Ocean in the Ecosystem, that is the environmental engine of Spaceship Earth, and realized my Tribe was a canary in the coal mine of industrial development, by virtue of being surfers and water people, and have always felt a deep and abiding responsibility to learn everything about our planet, and how it functions, in minute detail.

I read Silent Spring when embarking on my education in Environmental theory in 8th grade. It was not in the curriculum. It inspired me to study Science and look at everything as a part of a broad ecological picture. Many today do not understand relationships in Nature. It is important. Otherwise you may think your choice of a cause helps, when in reality you just shot the earth in a foot.

Brown Pelican Dino
Brown Pelican Dino

A living dinosaur. Special. Vital that it be here today with us. Not everyone knows that the usage and eventual banning of DDT, was based on questions posed in Silent Spring. DDT was never intended to be used here originally. Banning it saved the Pelican, the Bald Eagle, and Us. Thank God for curious people, research scientists, and publishers willing to give them a platform.

But frequently, we miss out on engaging larger line items, that make even something so important as biohazards, like pervasive toxins in our ecosystem, of far lesser importance . I think it is human nature to do so. But really, we ought to engage those bigger questions and issues. To not do so, is to invite more Chernobyls, Fukushimas, and accede to our potential role in a real life Armageddon.

Because you see, the Earth will live on. It is we who are here on it so briefly, which may not. What we choose determines the fate of our children. Look around at that: the children of the Earth. Ponder them.

Today ego, money and lies drive the Environmental Movement. That became our reality when we  abetted the championing of the life and welfare of our planet, to and allowed it to become a Political issue and springboard to power, rather than one of Scientific or Moral contention. The potential expense and loss created by this terrible choice of paths is so vast, it is paralyzing in its scope.

Not many look at the business acronym of ROI (Return On Investment) We all should. Sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, we will reap a harvest of both malfeasance and destruction from this great moral faux pas.

August 6 is a day memorialized as the day the US Nuked Hiroshima. That event has a particularly significant meaning for me,  as it marks a point in time where a nation engaged in complete and instantaneous destruction of an ecosystem and all that was contained in it, including of course, the people, and did it to accomplish an end to a war that killed far more than the event (The Bomb) did itself.

The words below are from an e mail exchange between Steve Schleder, Shawn Alladio of K 38Rescue, and myself and my response to this link which Steve sent: the Great Hiroshima Cover Up. Everyone should read this.

Also sent along by Shawn, is  WW 2 in color: The American Homefront.  Why photographers matter.

The affects of the Japanese entry into WW2 and the advent of that Mission in eventual final response, was what some Historians call a defining moment and some philosophic assessments call “the end justifying the means”. In some ways it set precedents within our Govt. that I have always believed set the course for some of the most hideous acts of Imperialism and brutality, and may even possibly, be what occurred in the Twin Towers and the adjacent buildings collapse.

My Father worked on almost every major defense project the US developed from 1957 to 1994 with his work for Rockwell, Boeing, GM,  Nasa and Martin Marietta, so I saw and heard of some of the affects of a lot of this in rather intimate detail. I recall at around the age of 10, going to visit him in Mental Lockup after he had himself committed in response to Psychiatric treatment, for disorders he suffered while working on the delivery systems for our weapons. He would have bad nightmares, likely attributable to being briefed on history, and the damage ratios of what he worked in developing.

I still recall, after going through a series of locked doors, the look on my Dad’s face when he saw me. Pretty incredible moment as the light went on for both of us at the same instant, about what mattered. He told me years later about some of the details of the defense projects.

I have a  knowledge of what Armageddon means, and what went on in Japan. My family has deep roots there, as my Dad worked for the Military doing map making in Asia and many of the families who immigrated to the US lived alongside mine in Hawaii.

It was an interesting experience having my Dad hold me up on the railing of a bridge over a stream on our Hawaii property and show me, when I was 7, where he had stood when he was a boy, and watched Japan destroy Pearl. I think the experience is what drove him into the Army and service, and eventually sent him to Marquette to study engineering, where they found out about his exceptionally high IQ, and where he met my Mom, married, and had my brothers and I.

I understand how all of this inter- relates.

My life is a byproduct of all of this. It is why I am who and what I am. Yea, a byproduct of Hiroshima in a way. Ironic and sorta cool that my car was made there. I like that. It means something to me. Buying it was a vote of sorts, for hope.

Everything connects. Better to embrace that understanding. It matters. So do you.

Gunter Pauli shows how we could approach achieving  sustainable change, in a fascinating TedX talk in Tokyo.

In his typically unexplainable manner, Seth Godin dropped this blog post into my e mail as I finished this piece. Seth amazes me. A modern day prophet speaks, once again in his piece, Bypassing the Leap.




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