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miércoles, marzo 26, 2008

Plastic People, Oh Baby, You're Such A Drag

The Midway Islands

Recently, I wrote about Si'an Kaan in Mexico and the utter disgrace that its beaches were full of plastic. Today, it's the Midway Islands and a BBC story that plastic in these islands in the very middle of the Pacific Ocean is killing birds. That's right. In the middle of nowhere, plastic is killing the birds. And turtles. And fish. Plastic is everywhere. It's destroying wildlife. It's destroying the planet.

The BBC article is stark:
On the coral atoll of Midway in the central Pacific - famous for America's first victory over the Japanese fleet in World War Two - wildlife experts are facing a new battle against a rising tide of plastic waste.

The Midway Islands are home to some of the world's most valuable and endangered species and they all are at risk from choking, starving or drowning in the plastic drifting in the ocean.

Nearly two million Laysan albatrosses live here and researchers have come to the staggering conclusion that every single one contains some quantity of plastic.

About one-third of all albatross chicks die on Midway, many as the result of being mistakenly fed plastic by their parents.
It seems that some chicks never can fly because they have so much plastic in their stomachs. "The deputy manager of the wildlife refuge ... opened the corpse of one albatross and found inside it the handle of a toothbrush, a bottle top and a piece of fishing net." And then there's this:
Many albatrosses are found to have swallowed disposable cigarette lighters - which look remarkably similar to their staple food of squid.

Others become ensnared in plastic. We were alerted to one albatross chick with a large green hook fixed inside its beak. The beak itself had become deformed.
The particular chick grew up with this plastic hook in its mouth:

The point is remarkably simple. Plastic must be kept out of the oceans. Period. Failure to do so endangers wildlife and destroys this planet. Do we understand that plastic is befouling and destroying our planet?

I would like something to be done about this. Can we make the destruction of our planet an important topic in our political dialog? Can we solicit effective proposals designed not only to prevent plastic from being discharged into the oceans, but also to remove existing plastic from our oceans? Can we start to have a politics that takes our stewardship of this planet seriously?

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