Harming the planet with plastic poison

Global Warming is one of the most pressing issues in today’s climate. Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, burning coal, transport systems, and even the animal agricultural industry all add to the destructive gases in our planet’s atmosphere. We need to realise as a collective, that if the oceans die, then we die. If there are no more trees, then there will be no more clean air. We are all connected.

We as human beings are constantly interacting with the environment around us. We have set up our homes here, we have figured out ways to feed ourselves, and we have created a community in which we are the top dogs, the highest on the food chain, and the fittest survivors. Humans are brilliant creatures, with so much potential as many have proved already – we have found a way to generate electricity, we write books and make music just for the joy of it, and we have discovered ways to harness the power of the sun! We love to learn new things, and we have a great capacity for empathy and love towards one another.

But it sometimes seems that we do not have this same empathy and love for the planet we have made our home. We treat it as if it is just something to be conquered and controlled, and we push aside ‘lesser’ creatures in order to further ourselves. Obviously, this is a generalisation, and not everyone on planet earth views it as just a rock in space, but many of the people in our world don’t treat the world with the respect and care it deserves, and this may be because of the cultural environment we live in today. But we have come to a point in time where we can no longer view the earth as unfaltering and impervious to our effect. We need to realise that what we have put into motion is affecting not only the earth, but also the other creatures with whom we share it. Human beings are responsible for most of the environmental issues in the world today.

Global Warming is one of the most pressing issues in today’s climate (excuse the pun). What is essentially happening is that the earth’s atmosphere is heating up at an alarming rate, and this rate has jumped in the last 50 years. This warming is caused when carbon dioxide (CO2) and other harmful pollutant gasses collect in the atmosphere and absorb and trap the sun’s rays, which would usually just reflect off the earth and go back into space. Burning fossil fuels to generate electricity, burning coal, transport systems, and even the animal agricultural industry all add to the destructive gases in our planet’s atmosphere. The rising of the average temperature is not as trivial as it may seem. This has a ripple effect on the entire planet’s ecosystem, and is already affecting our sea and coral life, the polar ice caps melting, and even has brought out a rise in allergies among young children.

In conjunction with the rise in the earth’s temperature, we are also clearing away thousands upon thousands of trees every day! Deforestation occurs when vast areas of land are cleared of the forests upon, mostly in order to make way for farming areas for planting crops and livestock grazing, but also because for paper production and logging companies. When we cut down trees, we are destroying habitats and getting rid of countless species (both animal and plant life) and we are getting rid of the things that produce clean, fresh air. The Amazon Rainforest has been coined “the Lungs of the Earth”, and so the more people cut it down and disturb the land, the worse off we will be.

And of course, there is the plastic problem. Plastic may be simultaneously the greatest and the worst material created. Plastic is so interwoven in our society; it is hard to escape it. It can be found in grocery stores, on clothing, in our bodies. It is undoubtedly a very convenient, versatile, and useful material and we have taken full advantage of its wide range of possibilities, but it is also exceedingly bad for the environment. The worst of this is the one-use plastics, which are items like bottles, plastic bags, and straws that people use one and then throw away. It all accumulates, and around 40% of the plastic produced in the world is discarded after one use. This is 161 million tons of plastic. And less than a fifth of all plastic produced in the world is recycled globally. So, one can only conceive how much of this plastic is being spread out into the wildlife. There have been many accounts of people witnessing ocean life entangled in plastic, eating plastic, and dying. There are even now reports that the fish we eat are eating the tiny particles of plastic, and so we humans are ingesting plastic as well.

Each of these above-mentioned emergencies have been either created or advanced at the hands of human beings. We as a community have together such power of mind and body, and yet not nearly enough people focus on putting their brains together to find alternative methods and ways of living, so that we do not harm the planet. It is a mess of our own doing, and there is not much time before we do irreversible damage. We need to realise as a collective, that if the oceans die, then we die. If there are no more trees, then there will be no more clean air. We are all connected.

And there are very doable things that we can achieve, that make a difference. Plastic production needs to be eradicated completely one day, and we should not be using one-use plastic items at all. We can use sustainable steel or glass straws as a replacement, and we can invest in mugs and bottles made from different materials. We need to decrease our meat intake drastically, and we need to be more mindful of the way we treat animals (who are not on this planet expressly to be our entertainment and food) who have as much right to be here as we do.

Our attitudes need to change first, and then we can begin to work on bettering this planet for every single creature who lives on it. It is hard to convince another person to see things the same way that you do, and there are many who have tried and failed. But in this instance, I think the stakes are a bit higher than they have ever been before. We have to realise we are no more important than any other part of this earth. We all matter, from the largest mountain, the oldest person, the strangest animals, to the smallest grain of sand. As arguably the most dominant beings, we need to understand that we are in a unique position of power – and we need to use that power for good. So maybe next time you see a ‘kids’ movie on TV, sit down and be reminded that we need to have more childlike wonder at the beautiful planet we live on. And instead of forgetting the messages they hold; we maybe need to remember them, now more than ever.

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