Friday, May 01, 2009

Trashing the planet

This can't be good. Imagine a soup bowl twice the size of the United States in the North Pacific Ocean, that is filled with a toxic stew of plastic debris, reduced down to a molecular level.
There are particles of cups of spoons and knives of plastic bags and plastic bottles, and they get smaller down to the basic plastic polymer, which is microscopic. The circular movement of the ocean – in the form of an ocean gyre – is trapping all this plastic. ...The plastic doesn’t fully biodegrade and is often toxic. ...Marine life feeds on it – including fish eaten by humans.

Marcus Eriksen said, "It’s absorbing PCBs, pesticides from farms, oil drops from cars — like a sponge, a plastic particle, we have documented, can have up to a million times more pollutants stuck on it than ambient seawater.
Horrible. Obviously the answer is to use less plastic. [h/t Preston Peet]

[More posts daily at The Detroit News]

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Blogger Cosa Nostradamus said...

Or learn to sh*t polyesther.

Glass? Half full, Lib'. Half full.

9:07:00 AM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

LOL Cosa.

10:44:00 AM  
Blogger rockync said...

Here is what I would like to see; a grocery store that has everything in bulk where you scoop pump or pour into your own containers. I would be happy to bring a jug to load with laundry detergent or a container for rice or for olive oil and all the other things I use on a daily or weekly basis.
Do you remember when we were kids there was a store that Mother would go to and you could fill your own container with laundry soap (it was powder in those days)?
Remember when the butcher wrapped meat in paper? Those foam trays and plastic are useless in a freezer. I come home, unwrap my meat and then repackage with my vaccuum sealer. I wish we had choices.

10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Larkspur said...

I've read that even the little micro-beads in exfoliating facial cleansers are ending up in the ocean forever, I think in plankton tummies. Not the jaggedy apricot-kernel exfoliants, but the space-age smooth micro-beads, for a smoother you! OMG, it's going to take a million million years to get rid of us.

9:23:00 PM  
Blogger Capt. Fogg said...

What's a million years to a planet 4500 times as old as that? Mass extinction is a regular and constant thing and that includes us.

I'm a very nostalgic person and I also would love to bring back cracker barrels and the country store and family farms and a slower way of life that never actually was, but with over 6 billion people -- a number soon to double -- you're talking an apocalyptic change and that means poverty, disease and starvation for many people. We cannot support all these people without eating up the Earth and yet we keep breeding and keep on being outraged an anyone who would like to control it.

Trust me, our old planet will be just fine in 10 or 20 million years and everything will be different.

11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous Larkspur said...

I know: we too shall pass. But we would no matter what. For some people that means total dominion over the planet and all its creatures and features, before we blink out. Like it doesn't matter. I wish it could have been that our time here was spent with increasing understanding of what an amazing existence we have.

I mean, we don't know everything about previous extinctions, so maybe it's really species-ist to speculate that so far, we're the only event whose characters display such intentionality toward destruction. Sure, dinosaurs broke trees when they walked, and I'm sure they littered the landscape - the dinosaur poop alone - but it was all part of the ecosystem, the great rock and the great roll.

I almost wish there was a higher power taking a higher-powerish version of notes. Maybe it/they couldn't have predicted that a bit of self-awareness could make a species hate itself and be insane and bring it all to ruin just because we know we're going to die, individually and collectively.

I'm aware that I'm a participant, but on a micro-level, I find it hugely comforting to be outdoors and know that the canyons and trees and grasses have been here long before I was born, and will be here, in an evolving form, long after I'm ded ded ded. This is a good thing to know, and not one to inspire me to clear-cut or slash-and-burn everything I can before I croak. (Actually, the earth is pretty good at rebounding from that sort of assault. Plastic and nuclear waste, not so much. But with enough time, the earth will figure out how to eat the most durable of plastic debris.)

9:22:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Hey kids. I'm back. Rocky I do remember that store. I mostly remember the cookie bins in the front. But I also remember before plastic wrap and foam containers. I would like to think people would wake up some time soon and understand that we should stop using this stuff but I'm afraid Fogg and Larkspur are right. We're more likely to toxify ourselves into extinction as a species.

Still you never know. The next generation may take it more seriously and science is an amazing thing. Maybe someone will figure out how to get rid of the toxic stuff and somehow people will go back to respecting the earth as a planet to be cherished instead of exploiting.

Not holding my breath though.

11:15:00 AM  

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