FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Plastic Chokes the Seas

Photo by Iwan Gabovitch | CC BY 2.0

Plastic is not recycled.

One of the great myths of modern-day society is that people recycle in earnest… saving the environment. Au contraire! Check out the ocean. It’s filled with plastic. Fish and seabirds eat it by gobs and gobs. Furthermore, according to a World Economic Forum presentation, The New Plastics Economy: Rethinking the Future of Plastics, February 2016, by 2050 there will likely be more plastic than fish in the seas, unless socio-economic policies change drastically. But, where’s the leadership?

Only recently National Geographic magazine posted news about a new discovery of massive quantities of plastic in the Pacific Ocean, July 25th, 2017, entitled: Plastic Garbage Patch Bigger Than Mexico Found in Pacific, stating, “Yet another floating mass of microscopic plastic has been discovered in the ocean, and it is mind-blowingly vast.”

The magazine also shatters the myth that people recycle, in earnest. According to the article, “a whopping 91% of plastic isn’t recycled,” which lends tremendous credence to the prediction at the World Economic Forum that the seas will carry more plastic than fish.

Consider the Great Acceleration, epitomized by plastic’s exponential growth, does not hesitate, onwards and upwards, production and profits, Wall Street and Trump, prosperity only hopefully, but not for most, for as long as the planet holds up… cough, ahem!

The focus of scientific research on plastic destructiveness prompts analyses “how much plastic has been produced, discarded, burned or put in landfills… horrified by the sheer size of the numbers.” (Source: Laura Parker, A Whopping 91% of Plastic Isn’t Recycled, National Geographic, July 19, 2017.)

Even more breathtakingly yet: “Plastic takes more than 400 years to degrade, so most of it still exists in some form.” Following the dictum that “you can’t manage what you don’t measure,” scientists set out over two years ago to study the issue. The results published just last week a landmark study in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances. It is the first ever global-wide analysis, and hands down, it is sobering. (Source: Roland Geyer, et al, Production, Use, and Fate of All Plastics Ever Made, Science Advances, Vol. 3, No. 7, July 19, 2017.)

For example, according to the study, of the 8.3 billion metric tons produced so far, 6.3 billion metric tons is now waste product, and of that, only 9% has been recycled. Yes Mr. and Mrs. Green of the World your recycling efforts are not totally for naught but seriously challenged in the worst possible fashion, people don’t really care that much, and that is a tragedy in a world filled with instant recognition of everything and anything bad or good, except for incessant care of the planet. (Oh yeah, by the way, the Environmental Protection Agency “EPA” and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration “NOAA” are now subject t0 unprecedented slash and burn politics. A huge sharpened axe overhangs our only biosphere under the raging influence of a rebirth of primitive Neolithic thought.)

The Great Acceleration, humans reshaping the ecosystem by displacing nature, is handily at work. Here’s proof: Half of the ingredients used to produce plastic have been produced over the last 13 years. That’s great acceleration, and then some. Not only that, half of all plastic becomes trash within a year. That’s acceleration of usage. By way of contrast, most of the steel produced still supports structures.

According to Jenna Jambeck, University of Georgia, environmental engineer specializing in ocean plastic waste, the U.S. is a distant third in recycling at a measly (9%) behind Europe (30%) and China (25%). As for U.S, environmental concerns/morals, Americans salute and flag wave and honor the country like America is great but at what?

According to National Geographic: “The problem of plastic pollution is becoming ubiquitous in the oceans, with 90 percent of sea birds consuming it and over eight million pounds of new plastic trash finding its way into the oceans every year.”

In the 1960s plastic was found in the stomachs of fewer than 5% of seabirds. By 1980 it jumped to 80%, now 90%. What’s left? National Geographic says that seabird populations dropped 67% between 1950 and 2010 but without a clear understanding of why. It is under study. Is plastic one of the threats to seabirds? We’ll find out in due course but likely too late for far too many.

Indeed, plastic trash is ubiquitous. Uninhabited Henderson Island in the South Pacific, a United Nations World Heritage site and one of the world’s biggest marine reserves described by UNESCO as “a gem and one of the world’s best remaining examples of coral atoll, practically untouched by human presence,” has the world’s highest density of trash, according to National Geographic. It’s a record-setter.

Henderson’s sandy white beaches carry the signatures of Russia, the U.S., the Philippines, the EU, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, and so forth. All of it is trash, mostly plastic via the South Pacific gyre, which is a circular ocean current that moves water like a conveyor belt and collects trash along the way to the garbage dump Henderson Island at the rate of 3,500 pieces every day or 105,000 pieces monthly and still increasing.

Fortunately, the South Pacific’s Henderson Island is uninhabited. People would be completely overwhelmed.

More articles by:

Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at rlhunziker@gmail.com.

April 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
In Middle East Wars It Pays to be Skeptical
Thomas Knapp
Just When You Thought “Russiagate” Couldn’t Get Any Sillier …
Gregory Barrett
The Moral Mask
Robert Hunziker
Chemical Madness!
David Swanson
Senator Tim Kaine’s Brief Run-In With the Law
Dave Lindorff
Starbucks Has a Racism Problem
Uri Avnery
The Great Day
Nyla Ali Khan
Girls Reduced to Being Repositories of Communal and Religious Identities in Kashmir
Ted Rall
Stop Letting Trump Distract You From Your Wants and Needs
Steve Klinger
The Cautionary Tale of Donald J. Trump
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Conflict Over the Future of the Planet
Cesar Chelala
Gideon Levy: A Voice of Sanity from Israel
Weekend Edition
April 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Ruling Class Operatives Say the Darndest Things: On Devils Known and Not
Conn Hallinan
The Great Game Comes to Syria
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Mother of War
Andrew Levine
“How Come?” Questions
Doug Noble
A Tale of Two Atrocities: Douma and Gaza
Kenneth Surin
The Blight of Ukania
Howard Lisnoff
How James Comey Became the Strange New Hero of the Liberals
William Blum
Anti-Empire Report: Unseen Persons
Lawrence Davidson
Missiles Over Damascus
Patrick Cockburn
The Plight of the Yazidi of Afrin
Pete Dolack
Fooled Again? Trump Trade Policy Elevates Corporate Power
Stan Cox
For Climate Mobilization, Look to 1960s Vietnam Before Turning to 1940s America
William Hawes
Global Weirding
Dan Glazebrook
World War is Still in the Cards
Nick Pemberton
In Defense of Cardi B: Beyond Bourgeois PC Culture
Ishmael Reed
Hollywood’s Last Days?
Peter Certo
There Was Nothing Humanitarian About Our Strikes on Syria
Dean Baker
China’s “Currency Devaluation Game”
Ann Garrison
Why Don’t We All Vote to Commit International Crimes?
LEJ Rachell
The Baddest Black Power Artist You Never Heard Of
Lawrence Ware
All Hell Broke Out in Oklahoma
Franklin Lamb
Tehran’s Syria: Lebanon Colonization Project is Collapsing
Donny Swanson
Janus v. AFSCME: What’s It All About?
Will Podmore
Brexit and the Windrush Britons
Brian Saady
Boehner’s Marijuana Lobbying is Symptomatic of Special-Interest Problem
Julian Vigo
Google’s Delisting and Censorship of Information
Patrick Walker
Political Dynamite: Poor People’s Campaign and the Movement for a People’s Party
Fred Gardner
Medical Board to MDs: Emphasize Dangers of Marijuana
Rob Seimetz
We Must Stand In Solidarity With Eric Reid
Missy Comley Beattie
Remembering Barbara Bush
Wim Laven
Teaching Peace in a Time of Hate
Thomas Knapp
Freedom is Winning in the Encryption Arms Race
Mir Alikhan
There Won’t be Peace in Afghanistan Until There’s Peace in Kashmir
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail