Sunday, February 24, 2013
Never Mind the Plastic Problem
This post here, is a never mind disclaimer to that post. Stay with me while I try to explain my reasoning.
Sure, plastic is a problem, but then so is everything else. How about acidification of the oceans? Seems like when it comes to degradation of the environment we have lots of contenders and the average lay person non-scientist doesn't know what to do because just about everything we do potentially messes up the environment. I am surprised that nobody is doing rankings of which of the many environmental affronts is the worst.
Actually, it seems that people are using the market to decide. The invisible hand will tell us which environmental affront is the worst based on which environmental group's video on youtube gets the most clicks, or whose kickstarter anti environmental affront revelation project gets the most donations.
Anyway, barring those kinds of metrics, I am here to tell you to stop worrying about plastic. Sure, plastic is bad, but plastic is also a handy thing to have. And in spite of all the problems that plastics create when tossed in the ocean, there are worse threats to the survival of the bio-crust on our planet.
Of late, I am reading that potentially the greatest threat to the bio-crust is anthropogenic heating of our atmosphere. For those of you that haven't seen that adjective before, anthropogenic is a non-gender specific replacement for man-made. Once we get the earth hot enough, that increase in temperature will trigger all sorts of other processes that will guarantee that the earth will continue to get warmer without us doing anything further to help with the process. It's kind of like starting a fire, for a while there you have to mess around with the wood to get it to burn. You have to stick kindling under the logs and newspapers and stuff like that to get the logs burning, but once you get them going, they will keep burning on their own without any help from us. It's the same with heating up the planet. We had to burn lots of carbon to put enough carbon dioxide in the air to heat the earth up to the point where it could keep getting hotter on its own, but now we're almost there or maybe we're even there.
Permafrost in Siberia is melting and releasing methane into the air. Methane is also bubbling up off the ocean floor off the coast of Siberia. Methane is even better than carbon dioxide in keeping the heat in. It's like going to Home depot and buying six inch thick insulation for the attic instead of just putting in the two inch stuff. House is gonna be warm now.
Anyway, if this business about runaway heating is true, then we don't really have to worry about plastic in the ocean because getting cooked in our own juices will be way worse than having ocean critters eating little bits of plastic and dying and leaving the oceans fish-less.
Looked at from the human standpoint, not having any fish to eat will be the least of our problems in a massively overheated world.
Not my job here to give advice on how to stop global over heating. Dmitry Orlov over at the cluborlov website advocates praying for a meteor to hit us and put an end to the oil burning that is generating all the extra carbon dioxide. I personally advocate just using less of everything, but I see where that will never become popular for people to do on a voluntary basis, so maybe the ability of prayer to enlist the help of a higher power is not a bad way to go.