Thursday, July 20, 2017

Plastic Everywhere

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The first time I ever visited a desert, one of the first things I noticed was the preponderance of plastic bag litter. It was stuck in thorny acacia trees, on cacti, and it was in the soil covered with sand. That was back in the mid 1980's. A couple decades later, I was lucky enough to travel to Transylvania in Romania and found that the floodplains of rivers were dotted with plastic waste: soda bottles, bags, and many other left overs. Here on Long Island, one often encounters plastic waste on the shoreline. Some of it is weathered quite a bit while other pieces look like they were just dropped. In many waterways, micro plastics are a serious concern.

The New York Times published an article by Tatiana Schlossberg yesterday about the impact of plastics across the planet. It is worth a read. It summarizes the results of the first major study of the impact of plastic waste on the planet. As you can imagine, the impacts are huge. We throw away millions of tons of plastics each year and 5-13 million metric tons of plastic enter the ocean annually. Most of the waste we throw away comes from packaging. We are truly in a new age where plastic is our geologic marker like dinosaur bones are in the Jurassic. But I predict that the age of dinosaurs will last longer than the age of plastic.

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