sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Building a Legacy

Future Fossils
There is nothing more disheartening to me than to travel to a strange and exotic location, walk on a sandy beach, and find it covered with plastic bottles, washed up on short. As with many men, the concept of a tropical location, palms, balmy breezes, an umbrella drink, plentiful fresh food and willing nubile women with loose morals appeals. That unrealistic and improbable vision's bubble is popped immediately by the human refuse that flows around on and in the world's oceans, and ending up on the beaches. 

I'm not a global warming enthusiast but I am a conservationist and environmentalist by nature. In a nut shell, don't kill all of the animals, birds and fish. And don't leave your garbage around for the rest of us to have to deal with.

Instead, plant a tree or a dozen trees.

Sometimes it's possible to forecast the view that people in the future may have of us. If not people, aliens on a star trek, who try and fathom what happened...

Unfortunately, Earth's oceans and lands will be buried by increasing layers of plastic waste by the mid-century due to human activity, according to research led by the University of Leicester.

A new study, which has been published in the journal, Anthropocene, examines the evidence that we now live in the Anthropocene, an epoch where humans dominate the Earth's surface geology, and suggests that the surface of the planet is being noticeably altered by the production of long-lasting human-made materials, resulting in us entering an 'Age of Plastic'.

Jan Zalasiewicz, Professor of Palaeobiology from the University of Leicester's Department of Geology explained: "Plastics were more or less unknown to our grandparents, when they were children. But now, they are indispensible to our lives. They're everywhere -- wrapping our food, being containers for our water and milk, providing cartons for eggs and yoghourt and chocolate, keeping our medicines sterile. They now make up most of the clothes that we wear, too.

"Plastics are also pretty well everywhere on Earth, from mountain tops to the deep ocean floor -- and can be fossilized into the far future. We now make almost a billion tons of the stuff every three years. If all the plastic made in the last few decades was cling-wrap, there would be enough to put a layer around the whole Earth. With current trends of production, there will be the equivalent of several more such layers by mid-century."
Jan Zalasiewicz, Colin N. Waters, Juliana Ivar do Sul, Patricia L. Corcoran, Anthony D. Barnosky, Alejandro Cearreta, Matt Edgeworth, Agnieszka Gałuszka, Catherine Jeandel, Reinhold Leinfelder, J.R. McNeill, Will Steffen, Colin Summerhayes, Michael Wagreich, Mark Williams, Alexander P. Wolfe, Yasmin Yonan. The geological cycle of plastics and their use as a stratigraphic indicator of the Anthropocene. Anthropocene, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.ancene.2016.01.002
Plastics can travel thousands of miles, caught up in the 'great oceanic garbage patches', or eventually being washed up on distant beaches. Plastics can eventually sink to the sea floor, to become a part of the strata of the future.

The rise of plastics since the mid-20th century, both as a material element of modern life and as a growing environmental scourge, has been widely described. Their distribution in both the terrestrial and marine realms suggests that they are a key geological indicator of the Anthropocene, as a distinctive stratal component.

At last, there is something enduring that we will be remembered for.


12 comments:

  1. A common definition of the word 'pollutant:' any substance, as certain chemicals or waste products, that renders the air, soil, water, or other natural resource harmful or unsuitable for a specific purpose.

    Plastics are virtually inert, LL. They don't degrade into poisonous substances, etc. A plastic Evian bottle will remain stable for thousands of years in its current form. Accordingly, this excludes plastic from the definition of pollution.

    Additionally, plastic is easy to pick up. Simply walk over to the offending piece of plastic, pick it up, and there you go. The plastic in question will not ooze through your fingers, or otherwise fight your collection efforts. It is one of the most stable compounds around.

    Now, unsightly? Arguably yes. But so are those God awful looking wind turbines (visible for miles and miles) as you head for Palm Springs from your digs in LA. But are they pollutants?

    This 'plastic-agheddon' that most greenies are getting their panties all up in a bunch about is really nothing more than an incomplete logistics process.

    Just pick the stuff up. It won't bite you. And without plastic, your world would be a much worse place to live, LL.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not ranting against plastic. I like plastic.

      I'm ranting against all of the slobs on the planet who don't pick up after themselves. Wind turbines are eyesores. I guess you could say that of bottles laying on the beaches for miles.

      Delete
    2. I abhor trash and people who throw it around. It's uncivilized to pollute your own nest. I also dislike all the over packaging we have now. We're only two people and can fill one of those huge green trash cans on wheels that the trash company provides. Somethings wrong with that picture.

      And trees? I've planted over 100 trees on our property and over 150 shrubs and bushes on what was once 5 acres of knapweed. Yay, me!

      Delete
    3. You're making your own little Garden of Eden. I think that's important.

      Delete
    4. Larry,

      Littering is akin to me coming over to your house, invited or not, dropping a deuce in your pool (nice picture of the backyard by the way). It does no one any good. Unless you have the cleanup contract.

      Delete
  2. OK, you and I agree (yet again). Yes, slobs who care not about the beaches strewn with their refuse are not civilized. Their mommas didn't raise 'em right. I am obvious ok with plastic, too. I bet your Ducati has a goodly amount of the stuff mounted on it here and there.

    This phenomenon of mommas not raising their babies right is the reason that the south side of Chicago is more dangerous than walking around in Afghanistan with a sign board on you that says in Pashto "The Taliban Sucks."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I took the Ducati to San Juan Capistrano for lunch. If it didn't have plastic on it, the bike would weigh twice as much as it does (as much as a Harley).

      Yeah, it's like going to the Hajj with a sign that reads (in Arabic), "Mohammed was actually a woman - his beard was fake".

      Delete
  3. There's plastic and there's plastic. Some say that people are "plastic," like the Kardashians or "Cait." And, in fairness, they often have a lot of plastic in their bodies. Other more useful pieces of plastic, such as water bottles, get left on beaches or at the range.

    Perhaps both belong in the trash.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kardashian plastic lips, breasts and whatever goes into those cyborgs is obscene. More obscene than litter on the beach (but not by much).

      Delete
    2. As I implied above, "Plastic: A Federally Funded Life-Time Career Opportunity". Federally funded pick-up, Federally funded "new recycling (wasted funds) technology. What could be better? Imagine the cruising vessel to go out into the Pacific Ocean accumulating floating plastic ?

      Delete
  4. Don't worry, LL because your nubile women with loose morals (it's far better if they have none at all) of the future will all end up on a heap like a pile of Barbie dolls and what will be much better is that you'll still be able to use them but they won't be able to talk. There's a positive side to everything.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Trust you to find a ray of sunshine in a pile of used plastic bottles on a beach.

      Delete

It's virtual - it's a mirage - it's life