Saturday, April 06, 2019

Plastic Pollution Climate Change and Life on Earth

The photographs of a young whale which died off the Philippines  because of the huge amounts of plastic, apparently some  40 kilos of the stuff it had ingested were shocking.

On the other side of the world in Bognor Regis Sussex to be precise, BBC Radio 4 were interviewing a farmer about plastic waste on UK farms. He said that since China had started to restrict imports of plastic waste, problems had mounted for British farmers.

If my understanding is correct, the Bognor Regis farmer was making  virtue of necessity by restricting his use of plastic to that which naturally breaks down and may be reabsorbed safely into the environment. He was also assisting other farmers with their plastic recycling. The Bognor Regis farmer explained that the costs of  plastic which breaks down naturally, is some five times the cost of  non recyclable plastic but he emphasised that  the price to be paid for recyclable plastic was but one of the costs for his farm so that the overall cost though more expensive was not as bad as it might appear at first sight.

Looking at UK supermarkets, Morrisons seems to be ahead of the crowd in reducing non recyclable plastic use whereas the supermarket we frequent more often, Sainsbury's, seems low down on the list of plastic  avoidance. 

From a personal point of view, it seems relatively simple to buy fruit and vegetables in unbagged form and have them weighed unbagged at the check out, leaving washing and cleansing of the produce for later, at home. 

On the other hand, there are many  items which are sealed in apparently non-disposable plastic such as meat, bags of fruit and vegetables as well as ready meals so the major retailers need to take more action though I fear that prices will rise as a result. Nonetheless, failure could lead to the planet becoming a far less comfortable place for many of us and to the dying out of many more creatures.

David Attenborough's TV programmes with graphic accounts of the effects on global warming and wildlife caused by mankind's activities, including excessive use and careless disposal of waste plastics, are really warnings of worse to come if we do not alter our ways of life in such areas.

Indeed there is a dramatic account in today's Times newspaper, of  a new David Attenborough story of how climate change, which is causing the retreat of ice in the Artic, is causing walruses which historically fish from ice platforms, now finding no ice are simply falling to their deaths in their 100s from cliff tops (after struggling up 80 foot to the top).

We need to adapt and quickly.  

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