The end of this financial year has seen all the major chain supermarkets phase out single-use plastic bags, in an effort to deal with the problem their ingestion poses to extremely long-lived marine mammals and birds like whales and albatrosses.
Most species of whale and albatross are “Endangered” and many are “Critically Endangered” or even “Possibly Extinct”
In reality, I have taken the change with a grain of salt – in our home, plastic bags invariably have a life cycle of being used as shopping bags and ending either when they rupture. Rupture ultimately happens even to the less fragile cloth bags we use for major shopping trips to Barkly Square, but it can happen extremely easily to bags not designed for heavy items like milk, as I discovered a week ago when shopping for coffee in Balaclava. All that had changed it that we have to pay fifteen cents for a bag every time we shop, or take a used plastic bag for small shaping trips.
This morning, however, I have read a list compiled from the article ‘Plastic Waste Inputs from Land into Ocean’ that had been published in the journal Science three years ago. Although it is undeniable Australia is the planet’s worst offender regarding greenhouse gas emissions, at least when one factors in per capita and indirect emissions, it does not rank amongst the top twenty nations in ocean pollution despite its large coastal area:
It is untenable that South Africa and the mineral-rich Middle Eastern states were missing from the Kyōtō Protocol in 1996 – their per capita emissions and even total emissions were and are much higher than many EU nations who were part of that botched treaty. Their absence is already affecting the Earth’s climate, by spreading the Hadley cell at such a rate that – according to the Sydney Morning Herald’s ‘“Time bomb”: Tropics expansion nudges cyclone formation into new areas’ – in 2090 Perth is likely to possess the climate Onslow did before the expansion began five decades ago. Matt Walsh and J.R. Jambeck show that the globe’s ignorance of and inability to rein in the pollution produced by these powerful states – which began not with Kyōtō but with apartheid in the 1950s and the energy crisis of the 1970s – is costing all of us.