Green Notes: Gratitude, Concern for Abundance

By Nancy Olson, First United Methodist Church of Palo Alto

November!!  After a year of time dragging or seeming to stop, here we are actually near the end of the year!

November – the month the calendar reminds us that we are supposed to be thankful.  Of course, shouldn’t we be ever grateful for God’s generosity providing this earth and its abundance?  Daily thankful for each sunrise on another day of opportunity?

The year ends with some good environmental news where several national banks are withdrawing funding for oil sludge pipelines that threaten water supplies, wetlands, and sacred native lands. Countries are taking steps to protect themselves from pollution problems – Greece has banned single-use plastic to protect their environment.

Plastics in the environment are a worldwide problem.  While most of us are trying to recycle the plastics in our everyday lives, plastic pollution continues to be a major environmental, health and economic problem.  And it will get worse.

Chemical products derived from petroleum, called petrochemicals, are essential for plastic production.  Many petrochemical plants rely on toxic fracking methods to obtain fossil fuels, which release massive amounts of greenhouse gases and other chemicals into the atmosphere.  Plastics contaminate our waterways and oceans and fill up our landfills.

Big Oil companies looked for other ways to make money from every drop of oil out of our planet, so they turned to plastic as the next big source of revenue.  Studies predict that by 2050, plastics will account for about 20 percent of total oil consumption, up from around 8 percent today.

During the pandemic, our plastic consumption has increased drastically.  Think of all the takeout containers and plastic utensils that have been used – disposable gloves tossed out – grocery bags handed out when reusable ones were prohibited due to safety concerns.  It is time to take a stand before our precious planet is further covered by piles of plastic waste.

We will never be free of this problem as long as we continue to let petrochemical plants keep producing the offending product.   These companies should not continue to be allowed to produce a product that they will not take back….a product that recycling programs are not prepared to handle the volume,….a product that costs communities and governments hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to control….a product the producers know the harmful effects on health and the environment.

How long will we tolerate this situation?

Happy Thanksgiving Day!  God is good!  (I cannot say the same for Big Oil.)

Nancy Olson