Guest essay by Eric Worrall
Frightened of plastic? Of course not; barring the occasional unsightly pile of junk, plastic is harmless. But the plastic pollution scare just might have what it takes, to serve as the new focus of green conscience.
A seabird common to Australia is being killed by marine plastic pollution at the alarming rate of one in 10, a Senate inquiry has been told.
A study found 11 per cent of young flesh-footed shearwater birds – common visitors to Australian coasts – were dying from ingesting plastic or from plastic chemical contamination, the inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution heard.
“This would be happening in other species as well,” the study’s author, marine biologist Dr Jennifer Lavers, told a public hearing in Sydney on Thursday.
The inquiry, called for by Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, is investigating the impacts of marine plastic pollution on animals and ecosystems, fisheries, small business and human health.
Dr Lavers’ research partner Ian Hutton said one bird was found with 274 pieces of plastic in its stomach – 14 per cent of its body weight.
“That’s the equivalent of a human carrying a pillowcase full of plastic in his stomach,” he said.
Dr Lavers said although the scale of the marine pollution problem was on par with major challenges such as global warming and sea level rise, research was chronically underfunded.
Back in 2010, Marc Morano of ClimateDepot wrote a hilarious article about the desperate search for a new “crisis”.
Now that Paris COP21 has “solved” the climate crisis, the search for new scare stories appears to have intensified. The plastics scare may be starting to pull ahead of the field of implausibly ridiculous alternatives.