Microplastics have been found dropping from the sky in a remote stretch of the high Pyrenees – a stark illustration of the way that the pollutants, carried on the winds, have the potential to accumulate “anywhere and everywhere”. Humans and other animals are consuming microplastics via food and water (including tap water), and there is evidence that we may also be breathing them in from the air.
The long-term effect of ingesting this material is not yet clear, but its sheer ubiquity means that the issue must be taken seriously, said Steve Allen, of the EcoLab institute near Toulouse, France. “If it is going to be a problem, it is going to be a very big problem,” he warned. “I don’t think there is an organism on Earth that is immune to this.” The researchers calculate that microplastics can travel 60 miles in the air. But as Saharan winds can carry particles of sand for hundreds of miles, this is likely to be a low estimate. The plastic was found in a part of the Pyrenees that is four miles from the nearest village and 15 miles from the nearest town. (The Guardian and The Week, 27 April 2019)
What can we do about those who despise science and scientists, shrug their shoulders and call the growing threat to the planet fake news? We can try to vote them out, but they have the support of rich corporations and individuals who are corrupt and who will protect their fortunes at any cost – to others, of course. Money is more important than other people and the planet itself. When the crunch comes they will blame someone else – they always do. We are slipping into deep crisis, and it may need another wrenching and violent world upheaval to eventually help the human race to survive. What we want is ataraxia and happy lives. Collectively we cannot see beyond our noses.