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Sunday, August 04, 2019

Getting past eco-guilt

There's some element of psychological sado-masochism at work in the Great Plastic Rubbish Crisis. It's almost as though the real driver is the need to make (other) people feel bad about themselves, which mostly they do anyway.
https://theoceancleanup.com/great-pacific-garbage-patch/ 

If you're going to whip the world you'll need a long lash, and in this case there's plenty of thong. We've all seen the animal pictures, and then there's the five great ocean garbage patches to remind us what a messy, throwaway lot we are.

Like the WW2 British tearing down park railings on tne pretext that they were needed to make into tanks and aircraft - which they weren't, so I understand, it was just to keep the populace aware that There Is A War On And We Must All Make Sacrifices (geez Louise, as though we didn't know) - we've had the Plastic Shopping Bag Guilts foisted on us.

The 5p charge has indeed been effective at reducing waste, and that's a good thing:

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/plastic-bag-charge-supermarkets-figures-reduction-a9029996.html

- because it is always good not to be wasteful.

But then there's the link between that and Killing Sea Turtles (etc.):

http://www.planetexperts.com/meet-the-famous-turtle-with-a-serious-plastic-problem/

By and large, it's not me. I live 100 miles inland and what my Local Authority doesn't recycle it burns - creating atmospheric particulate pollution that may be more of a health hazard than Deadly Diesel (the fuel that the Government wanted us all to switch to, then very much not).

So the Mail boasts of how it has successfully influenced our consumer behaviour, yet only last year ran a story explaining that most of the seaborne plastic garbage comes from rivers in far-off continents:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5910011/Plastic-bag-ban-criticised-90-cent-plastic-waste-comes-rivers-Asia-Africa.html

- a story based on a German scientific news item from the year before:

https://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=36336&webc_pm=34%2F2017

We may be indirectly responsible, in that until recently we sent a lot of garbage to China to be processed, but China is calling a halt to much of that:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/world/china-recyclables-ban.html (sodding paywall)
But you can read this follow-up:
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2019/03/china-has-stopped-accepting-our-trash/584131/

It seem the real answer to 90% of the problem is to get faraway foreign countries to stop throwing the stuff into the rivers - a perfectly practicable, political issue.

And then maybe a cleanup of the floating ocean crap - initial cost estimate c. £1 billion:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-plastic-waste-alliance/plastics-consumer-goods-makers-in-1-5-billion-pledge-to-rein-in-waste-idUSKCN1PA2AS

- though likely to be far more:

https://gcaptain.com/big-plastics-1-billion-pledge-to-end-plastic-waste-just-a-drop-in-the-polluted-ocean/

- yet even then, still a tiny fraction of the cost of building an aircraft carrier, for example.

Meantime, I wish the new prophets would get out of my head with their arrogant Save The World stuff.

1 comment:

James Higham said...

Excellent article, shall link.