20 November 2017

Plastic

A hermit crab on Henderson Island
Last night on "Blue Planet II", David Attenborough bewailed the presence of plastics  in our oceans. He pointed out that a hundred years ago there was absolutely no plastic there. Furthermore, he alluded to the damage that plastic is causing to our precious sealife.

Turtles get caught up in fishing lines. Fish ingest .small pieces of plastic. Seabirds are garroted by it and mother whales' milk is badly affected by it. It's a modern day horror story. Some of the plastic waste is so small that you can only see it with the aid of microscopes. 
It all brought to mind Henderson Island in the southern Pacific Ocean. That island is a powerful symbol of the effects of modern day living and the way we abuse our planet.

Though a few Polynesians once lived there, it has been uninhabited for hundreds of years. Undoubtedly, the Polynesians lived in harmony with Nature and had almost no effect whatsoever upon Henderson Island's delicate eco-systems.

Earlier this year, a study of Henderson Island was completed by The University of Tasmania in partnership with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds. Together, they estimated that there are currently 38 million plastic items on the island\s beaches - weighing approximately 17.6 tonnes. Very obviously this plastic flotsam has had a big and bad effect on marine life upon and around Henderson Island which I remind you has been uninhabited for very many years and should be a pristine atoll. The plastic has drifted there across the seven seas.
Plastic bottles, supermarket bags, packaging material, bits of fishing nets, bottle tops, cartons, trays, takeaway containers, discarded fishing line, plastic detritus - all speaking eloquently about the relationship between human societies and our beautiful planet.

We have been living in a throwaway, careless world. Surely it is nigh time to do something bold and brave about waste plastics. We owe it to our children and to our children's children's children and to the incredible creatures that inhabit our oceans. Henderson Island and "Blue Planet II" prove that.  But who is really listening?

16 comments:

  1. Humans never learn. They prove it over and over again. Day after day. Yesterday, I picked up litter from the side of this little laneway. People visiting the Sunday market carelessly just tossed their rubbish...popcorn container and empty drink cans on the leafy side of this lane...across from my cabin.

    To add insult to injury, the fellow from up the other end (a man in his 60s)...there are only four other dwellings on this dead-end lane, as I've described previously....the fellow was on his ride-on mower trimming the verge.

    I thought, foolishly, he would pause to pick up the litter as he went past it...but no, how silly of me to think that way. He dodged the litter and continued on his way!

    I won't say here what I mumbled to myself. People probably wonder why I live a reclusive lifestyle, by choice...and enjoy it...the above is some proof why!

    I gathered up the rubbish and put it in my garbage bin. My intention is not to come across as a martyr...but...geeeeeeeeeeee!!

    People!!! Grrrrrrr!!!!

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    1. And I am not a martyr either but hand on heart I can say truthfully that in my 64 years upon this planet i have never knowingly dropped a single piece of litter. I hate it and the culprits fill me with despair.

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    2. Same here, Yorkie...it was what my late brother and I were taught throughout our childhood. He was of similar mind to me.

      We were taught to never litter, to be proud of our surrounds and of our own self. Many things anger me, I'm sure I've made that obvious over the years, and those who litter are high on my list!

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    3. I hope that those who fart are not on your list. I would be a dead man!

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  2. The banning of plastic shopping bags (UK and France) in recent times has been one of the best bits of legislation but why does it always take so long before any action is taken?

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    1. Sometimes "too long" is "too late".

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  3. Here in Germany, private households and companies have had to seperate their waste for about the last two decades. We have separate bins for plastic, paper, glass, decomposable waste and "other". For everything else such as empty batteries, old computers, chemical waste such as left-over wood stains and paints etc., there are designated recycling "farms" in nearly every town and village.
    Whether you walk in a busy city centre or out on country paths, you come across bins at regular intervals. And yet, there are people who just leave their rubbish where it drops off their hands. It makes me really mad, and I would so like to catch someone in the act and ask them to justify what they'd been doing. I just doubt I will hear anything reasonable.
    Like Lee says, humans never learn.

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    1. I forgot to say that the plastic rubbish is separated so that it can be recycled.
      This year, a new law has been introduced; not banning plastic shopping bags altogether, but making it compulsory for shops to charge money for them, so that customers are more inclined to bring their own bags or at least use paper bags (which often are for free, if a shop offers them at all).

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    2. A lot of plastic debris in the sea is connected with shipping. Attenborough informed us that every day at least four shipping containers fall from ships into the sea. Several years ago one of these containers burst open releasing thousands of yellow plastic ducks. They floated all over the planet - from the Arctic to Africa. Fifteen years after their release in the Pacific Ocean one of these ducks finished up in Scotland.

      By the way, I have no doubt that Germany leads the world in recycling and attitudes to waste. Other countries with big populations could learn a great deal from the German example.

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  4. Wouldn't it be amazing if we made plastics illegal? Years ago, people were served food and took home groceries in containers made of paper or cardboard. There's no reason we couldn't go back to that. And bottled water -- well, don't get me started on how unnecessary THAT is. But I suspect the plastics industry (and all the associated businesses that benefit from plastics) have deep pockets to fund the continual proliferation of their products. Recycling, I supect, is a woefully inadequate solution to this problem. As I understand it, there's not enough market for many recycled materials.

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    1. I guess that the greed for profit will outweigh environmental concerns every time. The United Nations could play a big role in tackling plastics issues - turning the tide - if you will excuse my deliberate pun.

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    2. Steve, I am completely with you on the bottled water issue! It is tap water for me and nought else. (Apart from the odd vodka-based cocktail and a glass of champagne here or there, of course.)

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  5. That is one leathery looking hermit crab . . . and I feel sorry for it in that plastic jar. The amount of waste in those pictures is astounding.

    Very much like Librarian's experience, we in Nova Scotia have been separating and recycling/composting for over twenty years. We recently have added fiber to the list of things that are accepted for recycling, although it isn't picked up - we have to deliver it to the facility. But that's such a small thing to do to save putting it in the landfill.

    Have you see this video on how a young Dutch man is tackling the problem of plastics in the ocean? It makes me hopeful that young people may do better than our generation when it comes to cleaning up the world.

    https://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/wilderness-resources/blogs/remember-kid-who-invented-way-clean-ocean-plastic-hes-back-and-its-happening

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    1. "have you seen" with an "n" of course

      And that's the link to the article; the video link is contained in it.

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    2. Thanks for dropping by again Jenny and kindly leaving that link. I will "seen" the video later today.

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  6. I live by the beach in Hawaii and if we did not pick up the plastic rubbish that comes into our beach it would easily look like Henderson Island in a year. Most of the plastic comes from the fishing industry....lots of rope, fish crates, plastic buoy balls, oyster farm spacers, eel farm traps etc. Most of these things come from across the ocean and not Hawaii. When I walk down to the beach I always bring a bucket of plastic rubbish back with me to put in our trash bin.

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