>In addition to Marium eating plastic, biologists believe she was pursued by an overly aggressive male during the mating season.
>"We assume she wandered off too far from her natural habitat and was chased and eventually attacked by another male dugong or dugongs," Jatuporn Buruspat, director-general of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources, told the AP.
It seems that Marium died after being attacked by one or more males. Although the article mentions plastic in her intestines, nowhere does it say that the plastic was the cause of death. There is a good chance that a lot of the marine life invests plastic and we just notice it when we perform a necropsy after a death.
As a resident of California who has seen plastic straws be banned (which are highly visible but small) while millions of other types of waste are allowed I suspect it is the case.
The solution to plastic pollution is not 'make the container thinner' because the amount of material used is not really relevant. Two thin plastic bags are likely worse than one 3x thickness bag a pollution perspective.
It would be equally silly for companies to talk about "hey we now use 3% less petrol" or whatever. They need to use 90%+ less.
I'm saying that making plastic containers a bit thinner is a platitude (greenwashing), not that reducing plastic use is a platitude.
The meaningful move would be to stop producing single-use plastics entirely. A jar of jam or something that lasts a few weeks is low priority at the moment. A microwave meal is lazy. A plastic fork is just a piss take.
Global warming is an existential threat effecting billions of people in a few years, air pollution is killing millions of people every year, but plastic pollution is not proven to be toxic or endangering animal species even though its horrible.
The plastic waste that is entering the oceans is because people in developing countries that lack waste management systems, dump their trash in rivers and it floats out to sea.
The root cause is poverty and corrupt, ineffective governments. It's not a problem that can be resolved by western consumer action or even western legislation.
This doesn't exonerate anyone from what is being done, but the point of entry into the sea for these plastics is not necessarily the point of origin. So take it as we are all in this together. Fighting over who's really to blame is a waste of time.
What do we need instead? Working to reduce and helping to direct people to recycle wherever possible. From the perspective of the general engineer on hacker news, use tools at your disposal to further the message as far as possible. Even if someone feels encouraged to recycle mostly as a virtue signal, it's fine if they do it correctly.
From developed nations, mandates around plastic consumerism and technology jumps would be great.
Basically more nuanced conversations and positive actions vs "not our problem" write offs.
The root cause is human nature coupled with literally covering everything in plastic. Effective governments can help put a curb on this by restricting plastic usage.
Western governments should stop outsourcing pollution, whether literally (exporting plastic) or figuratively (allowing trade with environmentally unfriendly governments).
Now whether they have the will to do it over plastic waste (or carbon emissions or democratic governance or human rights) is another matter, because they have only a few tools and there are thousands of priorities competing for those tools.
It also doesn't help with leverage when there is a powerful economic actor which doesn't require any of these terms as conditions of doing business: China.
Perhaps it's not the fault of those poorer countries, but instead the fault of the Enlightened West (those that care about carbon emissions, democratic governance and human rights) illegally dumping their garbage onto other countries?
There's something funny about Western governments illegally dumping thousands of tonnes of trash on the shores of poor countries and then people having the audacity to support sanctions - literally punishing the civilians there by starving them through siege - for not having the ability to properly manage the waste.
We are talking about countries with no waste management systems because everything they have relied on thus far, as been entirely biogradable. "Trash bin" is not even in their vocabulary. Thats the floor!
Plastic is a problem because we have capitalistic enterprises entering new markets, and dumping their plastic, overprocessed foods; on poor unsuspecting populations. These supermarkets outcompete hand-to-plate operations in very little time. These enterprises usually follow resource extraction companies. "Give them money, take their resources", and any money they earn, gets funneled back to a mate, in the form of long life overprocessed goods (palm oil, preservatives banned in developed countries, sugar etc)
https://youtu.be/YINCk0zPkWE?t=984 (best video i can find at the moment)
ie. when a new mine is built, a pipeline is created to extract and export those resources. To fatten up the profit, ships that take minerals away, arrive with overprocessed supermarket goods. The mine employ's local workers who used to live a substance life-style, hand-to-mouth. Now the mine destroys the hand-to-mouth foodchain, and replaces it with a more profitable one.
The supeprmarket goods themselves then create health problems. And soon enough, the cycle has been kick started; there is no other way to live - but to depend on the supermarkets, depend on mecidine, which both require money. Need some money for medicine? There is a logger who will help out with that! Good for business, bad for humanity.
The relationship between plastic, exploitation and profit is intrinsically linked. Even at the 1st world scale, Coca-Cola products are 1/3 of all plastic waste in the ocean. They do it because its the cheapest way to preseve and export their sugar laced goods. Exploitation is the basis of the business model. Exploit human desires (we are programmed to seek sugar), exploit weak institutions, exploit weak governance, exploit weak enforcement. Hustle the supply chain so only your products are available. Its the only way to maintain a 10% profit increase each year, once u have hyper-optimised every other facet of the production process.
Putting a state of the art plastic recycling plant next door to OK Tedi is not going to help. It will just be another parasitic Capitalistic enterprise seeking to exploit, dump and export.
The big problem is the cost of energy to move and bury the garbage. A lot of third world countries don't have extensive waste management networks like the USA.
Investing in waste management infrastructure in these communities would essentially solve the plastics problem, even if nothing else was changed. It is, unfortunately, not very exciting to talk about civil waste management infrastructure as the way forward, but it doesn't stop it from being the correct answer.
On the other hand, we're seeing more and more particulate pollution from plastics which won't be solved by adequate disposal. Some plastic products break down and end up in the environment while they are still in use(see plastic clothing fibers for example).
But before we throw the baby out with the bathwater, we also have to remember that synthetic clothing keeps people clothed and warm for less environmental impact than most natural fibers- cotton is a resource-intensive crop that has its own waste and pesticide problems, for example. There are a lot of optimizations to be made.
Managing AND reducing waste needs to happen simultaneously.
Landfills are lot more complex than just dumping trash in a pit. https://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/swfacilities/landfills/needfor... may be of interest. The tl;dr is that properly-managed ones genuinely are a safe form of waste disposal.
Plastics sitting in our landfills are, at human timescales, sitting relatively undisturbed on the outer skin of this world, where they are probably a teensy bit less "sequestered" than they were several thousand feet into the crust.
At anything approaching geologic time, some fraction of these feats of engineering will be graciously buried by layer upon layer of new sediments; others will be sundered by the same forces that flatten mountain-ranges and carve canyons, their contents re-circulated through nature's supply chains.
Given so many parts of the world throw trash into rivers which is one of the main ways we get so much plastic in the ocean, this seems extremely wishful.
Seems like if we could avoid plastic in the first place, or have all plastic be biodegradable in a short time period, we'd be far better off.
Also: What's the source of this information?
Seriously, that's the answer. As it stands, a truly staggering amount of waste, of which plastics are only a fraction, is just straight dumped into these rivers because there's no way to handle it locally. Stopping the flow at the source through proven, straightforward waste management techniques would help the environment is innumerable ways, including the plastics problem.
We need waste control, enforced harsh laws on producers (industries and tourists and waste manager companies), and we needed it a decade ago.
This is what happens when capitalism relies on an externality and that externality is fed up with its bullcrap.
Keep in mind that humans introduced plastic and have control over its presence.
Perhaps the term „ecosystem evolution” is too general in this case; ecosystem destruction might be more accurate.
It’s up to us what is the next step. We can leave things up to natural selection, but do we want to?