Humanity’s appetite for plastic is already inscribed in the fossil record – suggesting that the current epoch could become known as the “plastic age”. For a groundbreaking study, oceanographers at the University of California San Diego examined annual layers of sediment off the coast of California back to 1834. Microscopic plastic particles began to appear in the 1940s, and since then, their quantity has doubled about every 15 years – mirroring the rise in plastic production during this period. Overall, two-thirds of the particles discovered were plastic fibres, a fifth were broken-down fragments of other plastic, and a tenth were plastic film. “Plastic was invented and pretty much immediately we can see it appear in the sedimentary record,” said study lead Jennifer Brandon in The Guardian. “It is a scary thing that this is what our generations will be remembered for.”
Where I live all too much stuff we buy is packed in plastic of some sort. Even the wrapping of parcels delivered from online sources are not re-cyclable. Milk, which was delivered in glass bottles in my youth, is now sold in plastic containers. And so on ad infinitum. Some manufacturers got the message years ago, but money talks loudest, and all too many companies just keep under the radar and seem to hope they don’t have to change, disrupt production, and lose a scintilla of profit.
What has this to do with Epicurus? It is all about the degradation of the planet – too many people and too much junk finding its way into our oceans, even our drinking water. Any thinking person can (should? ) be concerned about what legacy we are leaving our children and grandchildren.
Of course, the effect of climate change is the most challenging ( I personally believe it will result in unprecedented violence), but our ignorance and indifference about what happens to the huge piles of trash we throw out may give us temporary ataraxia, but it will come back to seriously bite us. We need to haul in the activities of the oil companies and the effects on the environment. Big time! (From The Week, 21 Sep 2019)