In the “What if…” post trilogy The System Is Fracked, Nayra asks the question:
“Why didn’t we listen and take action and save our oceans when we could have?”
So let’s examine this curious human behaviour of ours in the face of insolent evidence slapping us like a dandy with a white glove.
In 1997, Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Institute discovered what is now known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. In 1999, he began sampling the surface waters of that area in the North Pacific Gyre. What he found was that his samples had 6 times more plastic yummy fish food morsels in them than plankton.
Wow! However, that wasn’t enough to cause a major world wide ban on plastics. Maybe it was a fluke.
Well just for fun, the Captain and his crew have been trawling the gyre ever since, monitoring the debris situation. And low and behold the fluke has become worse to the tune of 36 times the amount of plastic to plankton swimming around as POP rocks for the school fish.
Is there a world wide ban on plastic yet? Nope.
Are people still drinking out of single-use water bottles? You bet.
Do people know that Drinking Has Gyre Consequences? Apparently not.
Or maybe they just don’t care because the problem is not in their back yard.
Or maybe they care but don’t have alternatives to plastic.
The reality is that humans gravitate to urban areas. Urban areas do not currently generate food except in small pockets of personal and community gardens. And people need to eat. People also aren’t really into rat, raccoon, and squirrel whether they are vegan or not. Therefore, food gets shipped (another big environmental cost) and plastic containers are the carriers of choice. But what exactly are they carrying?
Warning. Here comes the crusty grandma-could-be in me.
When I grew up, ketchup came in glass bottles and it actually was a brain teaser trying to figure out how best to get that first plop out. Now we’re sucking back the BPAs and our brain cells have atrophied. You squeeze it delicately 0nce and instant ketchup. Where’s the fun in that?
The first encounter with the plastic ketchup bottle might have created an artistic masterpiece as it flew across the room with the force we had become accustomed to, but as Sade laments…it’s never as good as the first time.
Going back to the Nayra’s question of why oh why aren’t we changing in the face of knowledge? There are a few gremlins at work here.
First, we must follow the money. Plastics comes from fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are subsidized. Plastics are cheap to produce. Plastics are light and cheaper to ship.
Second, we are gremlins of habit. Once we forgot about the old ketchup, our brains got used to the new packaging. And since the product is pumped with sugar and salt, it’s the Zorro of plastic. Even those of us who still have active taste buds are fooled into accepting the new je ne sais quoi chemical zing over time.
Third, our caveman fight or flight response doesn’t kick in until we’re up against something with big teeth and lots of slobber checking us out a little too eagerly. When is the last time a plastic grocery bag bit you?
Would we act if we turned on the faucet and a plastic bobble head doll came out of it instead of water?
What about if plastic Ken dolls were washing up on beaches by the thousands? And naked? Eech! Would we then understand the impact of endocrine disruptors and act? Or would we just cover up the evidence with some bright swim trunks.
With all the technology we have in our global grape vine information spreads faster than the town gossip can run. We can no longer claim ignorance of the natural law. Garbage into the oceans -> garbage out of the oceans, and onto our plates.
Nayra’s question does not have one sliver answer. But if you had a time machine and could travel to that underground river flowing to HER future, what would you say to her?
The solution lies within you. Speak your mind as a comment below.