Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Gonna Kill Us

It's going to kill us, all this plastic waste and our what-the-hell attitude about it.
Did you know that today was Earth Day? I didn't. Not till I read in today's edition of the Writer's Almanac. I'm less interested in the history that's recounted there than in the environmental consciousness that's laying heavy on me today. Why? Because quite by accident I watched a TV show we had recorded about the mess that plastic has made of our earth. Damned if I can find a reference for you to this show. But this link which discusses the impact of just plastic bags and not all the other plastic garbage we despoil the planet with. Like plastic water bottles. The numbers of these things we're talking about are astounding. And then there's something I knew about, you know, one of those vague, back-of-the-mind kind of things. This is the staggering amount of plastic shit we've put into the oceans of the world. There are plastic garbage dumps in all the oceans of the world, huge concentrations of plastic. The TV program reported that plastic is turning up in the stomach of just about all marine animals.

From the article: "The number of plastic pieces in the Pacific Ocean has tripled in the last ten years and the size of the accumulation is set to double in the next ten unless the use of disposable plastics is reduced.While this 'trash continent' is not thick enough to be walked on, from the ocean surface to a depth of 30 feet, the plastic is floating at a concentration six times that of its neighboring zooplankton, the most abundant animal type of life both by number and total weight. The plastic can reach concentrations of a million pieces per square mile.

Here's something you haven't thought about: Practically all the plastic waste that goes into rivers, creeks, streams, storm drains, and adjoining land eventually washes into the oceans. And "[a]lmost every single piece of plastic ever made is still around. Much of that plastic waste material has ended up in the ocean; out of sight, out of mind, but never gone."

The good news is that many countries and cities throughout the world have banned plastic bags altogether or they charge for their use. The bad news is this is not nearly enough to meet the looming crisis our garbage is engendering. How many times have I posited that we are a doomed people? I don't do that lightly or without evidence, brothers and sisters.
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