Is the ‘Somebody Else Does It’ syndrome destroying our planet?
We’ve been there, seen it and done it. Now it’s time to move on. Plastics had their use when the world population was growing rapidly and more products had to be made available to more people in more places at more times. It was an age of innocence. It was also an age of ignorance.
We’re no longer innocent or ignorant. We’re a responsible species; or we should be. We know what we’re doing and the damage we’re causing. We
should be correcting our actions and correcting them fast.
There was a time when we didn’t even know that smoking was bad for you. As
a species we were also reliant on fossil fuels, and we had no idea they were bad
for us. Great days; and we were slowly but surely sowing the seeds of our own
destruction. We know that now. The seeds have sprouted.
The question is; will much change? Will somebody else sort out all the
problems? As in the typical edge-of-the-seat Super Hero movie, do we expect a
last-minute salvation? Because, regarding our delicate and wonderful planet,
that’s where we are; in the last minute.
Resolutions to the global problem continue to
befuddle many, elude others, and seem to
others to be irrelevant;
best left to governments, lobbying bodies,
and major corporations to sort out.
Help is not at hand
The situation regarding plastics in the world’s oceans and waterways has arisen from nowhere else than from our own actions. It is estimated that some 300, 000 tons of plastics float on the ocean’s surface. This appalling situation gets worse in the world’s five major waste collection areas where currents are more active and dynamic than in other areas. These are known as gyres; they are the North and South Pacific Subtropical Gyres, the North and South Atlantic Subtropical Gyres, and the Indian Ocean Subtropical Gyre. The situation in these areas is out of control. Help appears to be not as close at hand as either it should be, or we had hoped it would. The Guardian reports that: “Britain is one of the biggest producers of plastic waste in the world, second only to the US. It exports about two-thirds of its plastic waste”. Commenting on the UK government’s actions in continuing to export plastic waste to developing countries (where someone else can get to grips with the problem,
presumably), an article from Chris Packham, the naturalist and TV presenter, stated: “…in the first few days of January, we have seen our government ship our problematic unsorted plastic waste around the world to countries who don’t have the capacity to deal with it….“With Cop26 right around the corner, now is the time for Britain to show the world it means business when it comes to tackling the pressing issues of plastic pollution and climate change, but we will never truly combat the plastic crisis if we continue to hide our guilt in other people’s backyards.”
It has always been the right time to take the right action, but
now the need to do so is more pressing than ever before; for
our planet, our environment and our future.
Although environmental degradation resulting from high levels of carbon emission is a global concern, the steps towards dealing with it are of direct local relevance to all of us; from the individual to the workplace, from employers to local councils and civic bodies, from towns and cities to countries and geographic regions. By taking small steps, businesses can individually and collectively contribute towards making a big difference.
A sea of troubles
Concerned organisations have long taken up the challenge, in many facets. A Sky News article draws attention to Sky’s joint mission with WWF which, since 2009, has aimed “…to tackle some of the world’s most pressing environmental issues, such as the deforestation of the Amazon,
restoring and protecting ocean habitats, and the climate emergency”. Lisa Holland, Sky’s climate change correspondent, observes the
correlation between doing the right thing for the environment and reaping the inherent collateral economic benefits that such actions produce: “Restoring the UK’s seas could pump billions of pounds into the economy by 2050, bringing thousands of new jobs and huge climate benefits”, says the article. Once again, to some, a problem that lies far out at sea may appear to be tangential to the main issue. This is until you realise, as Lisa Holland highlights that “our seas currently absorb over a
third of the UK’s carbon emissions.” It is the very nature of this ‘long game’ – the future – that has buffered
sensitivities prior to the alarm bells ringing. The problem, to many,
seemed so distant. It was almost as if we were all thinking that when it’s
time to do something about it, we will. We’re at that time.