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Do we really care about our planet? Think twice before answering.

Published 12th November 2009 - 26 comments - 38252 views -

Is all this talk about saving the planet just talk and rhetoric?

Sometimes I think it may well be just talk. Or how is it that we haven't been able to contain and stop our use of polythene? Every moment there are millions of plastic bags being distributed free and people are taking them, using them and throwing them, as if nothing was wrong.

The damage these bags cause is beyond doubt, of gigantic proportions. Science has proven it. It's well documented. Then why are plastic bags still used with such disregard for common sense?

Sometimes I wonder if we will ever reach any fair, binding and ambitious deal. We haven't been able to ban plastic bags.

I leave you with a video that would leave you speechless, if you haven't watched it yet.


Category: Climate Science, | Tags: plastic, sea of plastic, charles moore, climate talks,


Vitezslav Kremlik on 12th November 2009:

I will surprise you. I do not advocate pollution of forests with plastic bottles.

But only free market can solve this. Not regulations and subsidies.

Why don’t Recyclers PURCHASE plastic waste from households? Only an idiot would throw a plastic bottle in the woods then. MOTIVATE people through… how do you say it… greed.

Once the technology is mature, recycling may be cheaper than producing new plastic. Then every producer will prefer purchasing plastic waste. Because it will be cheaper.

As I said: when eco-nomy and eco-logy goes the same direction, everybody will follow

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 12th November 2009:

Vitezslav, you sound like Candide… do you seriously think that market solutions have driven history up to now? If you don’t blame the market for crazy ideologies, don’t blame the market for polytelene bags, either.

That said, I think it is a wonderful idea to pay people recycling garbage smile In most countries you get paied for recycling aluminium cans, and of course most of these cans get recycled. So why not pay people for recycling everything else?

hemant anant jain on 12th November 2009:

Interesting perspective in one Guardian news report from last year:

Vitezslav Kremlik on 12th November 2009:

Daniel, try to have a wider look on this problem. When did the scientific revolution started? It coincides with the coming of capitalism and bourgeoise revolutions. Causality!

Bourgeoisie grabbed pover, made deregulation to boost its profits… and this liberation caused… growing rate of inventions. Improving your products brings customers and cash.

As I wrote before. Study history, the answers are all there.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 12th November 2009:

Hm… first of all there is no thing like causality in history wink

The Newtonian revolution occurs at a time of feodalism’s decline. This meant both increased power for the bourgeoisie, and widely increased power of the princes and kings.

I would say that puritan religion was closer to the burgeiosie at this time, and science to the almighty courts, used in the kings’ wars.

But we are way off topic now, and shouldn’t spoil Henants post with this discussion. Let’s continue somewhere else smile

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 12th November 2009:

Correction : Hemant’s post

hemant anant jain on 12th November 2009:

I was enjoying it! smile

Vitezslav Kremlik on 12th November 2009:

On causality:

To anyone, who think, that capitalism (democracy) and industrial/scientific revolution are just a coincidence…

It is just as believable as that CO2 drives temperatures, although it starts rising only AFTER the temperatures.

Yes, to environmentalists causality really is an unknown word. I can see it now. It explains a lot.

Vitezslav Kremlik on 12th November 2009:

But we can complete the discussion elsewhere, true. Anyway, if you want people not to throw litter, buy the litter from them.

Just like in the era of glass bottles there was a DEPOSIT on them. HOMELESS people made a LIVING by collecting empty bottles and selling them.

Until you pay me for ecological behaviour, I do not care a damn. Positive motivation, not bans.

Daniel Nylin Nilsson on 12th November 2009:

Homeless still make a living form collecting cans and bottles, and I see nothing wrong with that. ( I mean, it is obviously a social problem that people are unemployed and homeless, but not the fact that they pick cans and bottles).

This is exactly the problem with relying only on free markets: I want to pay you, but I don’t have the money to do it. The people who could pay you don’t want to spend their money on waste.

Ajit Shenoy on 12th November 2009:

Anyone read this?

BPA isn’t exactly ‘plastic’ but it is used to make plastics.

Federico Pistono on 12th November 2009:

But only free market can solve this.
Once the technology is mature, recycling may be cheaper than producing new plastic. Then every producer will prefer purchasing plastic waste. Because it will be cheaper.

Wrong. It’s already cheaper, but businesses and people are not doing it. And besides, recycling is not the solution, the solution is not to produce waste at all (dedicated post coming for full explanation).

You see, it’s ignorance and corruption that are causing the problem, not the lack of free market.

hemant anant jain on 12th November 2009:

Thanks for the link Ajit.

There are some interesting points in this debate. About recycling and positive motivation.
In India, we have a system of ‘kabadiwala’. Don’t know how to translate it properly, but would loosely mean - the waste man or something. He basically comes around the house at the end of the month, collects paper, glass etc and pays a sum for it. Has been quite effective.
What I noticed though is the kabadiwallahs are reluctant, mostly, to pick up the plastic waste.
Is it because the recycling of plastic is very expensive?
Also, there is a technical limit to the number of times say polythene can be recycled.

What is also interesting to read is some facts about Nurdles.

Here is something I read about Nurdles:

Lining our beaches and filling our oceans are polythene bags, syringes, plastic food containers, pebbled remains of polystyrene packaging and things called Nurdles.
Nurdles are raw materials of plastic production. Minute plastic cylinders about 20 mm high.
Some are about 20 microns - slightly thinner than human hair.
So while animals have been choking on plastic and carcasses have been found around the world, of birds and mammals, containing inordinate amounts of plastic trash, it is the Nurdles that are really dangerous.
It’s simple really.
The smaller the particles, the easier it gets for even zooplankton to eat them. And as common sense would tell us, the faster these amazing plastics will reach the human bodies.

Also check the ingredients of your cosmetics. A lot of them including toothpastes use ‘miro-fine polyethylene beads’, or polythene beads, or polythene micro spheres, or simply polythene.
All this just goes down the drain, into the rivers, into the oceans, into the organisms, fish, birds, animals.

So while recycling should be taken up with greater zeal etc, it is a comprehensive ban on polythene bags, at least, which may be a solution that would need to be exercised.

hemant anant jain on 12th November 2009:

And coming back to the point about a fair, ambitious and binding deal - if we ahven’t been able to control the extremely dangerous polythene, because of the very powerful plastic lobby, how do we think we can reach a deal with the all powerful oil lobby at work.

A closer look would also point that it is the petroleum based plastics which are realy toxic.

Adela on 12th November 2009:

In Romania, plastic bags are no longer offered for free. In every supermarket, you either go with your own bag or buy paper or (biodegradable) plastic bags from them.

Good question in your title, Hemant.
I don’t think the individual answers count.
But you’ll have an answer in a month now.

Adela on 12th November 2009:

Brrr, scratch the last part of my other comment.

I meant that regardless of what each of us - as individuals - think or do, the decisions to be taken at cop15 will be the ones that count.

hemant anant jain on 12th November 2009:

Adela, it’s great that in places like Romania and may other countries, plastic bags are being charged. It is a huge deterrent.
However in a lot of other places, governments haven’t taken this positive step.
Even in England, i see big chains like Tescos distributing plastic bags for free.
There is a tag of “biodegradable” on them.

But if we were to question it a bit further we would find that biodegradable plastics are a bit suspect.

Interesting bit of info here:

“As far as ‘biodegradable’ polythene bags are concerned, it is extremely tough to achieve that even in highly controlled laboratory conditions. Garbage dumps, rivers, drains are really far from ideal, wouldn’t you say?
But there in lies an amazing business opportunity for spurious biodegradable plastics. Easier on the conscience but losing none of their traditional qualities.”

Adela on 12th November 2009:

The ones sold here look like plastic, feel like plastic, are called plastic bags but they’re made of potato starch. I’m only referring to the bags sold in the supermarkets.

If you go to some corner shop, I think they still give you the classic plastic bag for free. I have to double check this, though.

hemant anant jain on 12th November 2009:

So we have BPA, which isn’t plastic, but is used to make plastic(see link posted by Ajit)
We have “nurdles” (explanation above)
We have the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
We have all the data that condemns polythene and some other forms of plastic.
And yet there hasn’t been a comprehensive ban on it.
Is business so much more important than life?
And if it is, should we start looking beyond Copenhagen already?

Vitezslav Kremlik on 13th November 2009:

A constructive contribution to the debate about plastic recyclation. How to solve it:

hemant anant jain on 13th November 2009:

If you had read about Nurdles above, it would have been difficult for you to talk about recycling. I think we have moved beyond this recycling and biodegradable debate.
What is needed is a comprehensive ban. And the real question is - why are we not able to do it? What are the issues?
The same oil lobby that is opposing climate talks has a stake in plastic.
These are the issues which need to be addressed at Copenhagen - how do we move to a world where business doesn’t dictate everything. Profits don’t control common sense.
nature doesn’t do bailouts.

Deepak Dogra on 14th November 2009:

Where our plastics end up eventually. These pictures have been taken in one of the world’s most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent:

Paul Montariol on 01st December 2009:

Modern industry gave a very big power to the man. We must learn to make a good use of this very big power and it is not simple.
If you can you may study the bible with true and free theologians.
In my group there are also psychoanalysts.

Compost on 08th January 2010:

We care about our planet , its just we feel helpless against large corporates and the like.

I think the issue is the constant focus on how bad the planet is.

If we focused wholely and solely (even through the media) on how good the planet is and how to continue to help it we will start a mcultural movement of change.

People don’t get inspired from doom and gloom, they get inspired from uplifting stories of change and action


Paul Montariol on 08th January 2010:

The Earth can live by itself.
The man cannot live without Earth.
We must live in good agreement with Earth.
What are the good rules?
If we are negative it is impossible!

Emily on 18th February 2010:

this man doesn’t know what he is talking about well kinda lol but see we are taking change already i wonder what time he did this video i know it wasn’t anytime soon because we are taking action the earth will not blow up really it won’t explode he needs to get his mind straight now! Some people DO recycle and they Do care and TRY to save our planet!!!!!!! This guy is all jacked up and needs to get his facts straight!!!  We CAN save the planet! We CAN clean the oceans but we might have start with baby steps and WE CAN make a difference!

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