Picture above from sciencemamag.com
Some photos and excerpts from National Geographic, June 2018
If plastic had been invented when the Mayflower carried the Pilgrims across the Atlantic Ocean, their trash would still be with us today. Ocean waves and sunlight would have decomposed plastic bottles, packaging and other containers into microscopic bits. In this day and age, a pair of tourist love birds in Hawaii, taking a romantic evening stroll along the beach, are quite apt to make a “snap, crackle and pop” sound with their feet. And it ain’t from walking on Rice Krispies! They are hearing plastic bits.
IMAGE: Free plug for Kellogg’s
Celluloid, the compound considered to be the first man-made plastic, was invented by John Wesley Hyatt in 1856. This was during a rush by innovators to win a $10,000 prize. This jackpot was offered by Michael Phelan, a maker of billiards tables and equipment in New York City. Phelan was hoping to find an alternative for making billiard balls. He wanted something cheaper than elephant ivory. According to slate.com – “The average number of billiard balls that could be obtained from a single tusk was three.” As the video shows, this was done with a lathe, and there were a lot of imperfect rejects. How vervloekt wasteful was that?!?!? (Please, pardon my Dutch.)
The motivation for this search was mostly economic, but historians have found that there were some concerns about the slaughter of these creatures, but it wasn’t about animal rights. The concern was for the hunters at risk of being trampled by a disastrous stampeding herd of panic stricken pachyderms. Little did anyone realize that Hyatt’s discovery would lead to a global environmental disaster. His celluloid was the precursor to fully synthetic plastic, patented in1907. By the way, Hyatt did not win the $10,000 (about $3Million in today’s money)… he merely opened Pandora’s Box, instead.
Michael Phelan’s billiards saloon, corner of 10th Street and Broadway in New York City, 1859.
(New York Public Library, Wikimedia Commons)
World production of plastics has increased exponentially, from 2.3 million tons in 1950, to almost 500 million tons per day.
Plastic bits are responsible for killing millions of marine animals every year. Plastic is very difficult to dispose of and the solution must be more land fills and greater recycling measures. Plastic decomposes from sunlight, and newly evolved microbes consume it. They have been mixed with chemicals and are being found in more and more fish throughout our oceans and lakes. This will likely pose a great health hazard in the years to come.
Marine biologists are extensively dissecting fish only to find micro-plastics in the guts of almost one-third of all ocean species.
IMAGE: NOT a free plug for the companies that make this stuff! Hey, and this goes for you consumers too!
Sure, we all want clean ears, but, JEEZ! Please buy the cotton swabs with the stick made of paper…OK?
This has been a sustainable planet service announcement… now to continue with our blog…
I am shouting it out here!
I am stressing a call to action for my readers!
Please, do take this global threat seriously!
One organization you can become involved with, to learn more about our “threatened oceans” and to find out how you can help, is Plastic Oceans.
Food security will continue to be a major global issue. Unfortunately, it is human nature to ignore a pending catastrophe until it is almost too late. Another great group is the Rainforest Alliance.
As a commodity trader, I usually see a chart like this and want to “buy the heck out of” whatever it is. However, in this case, I wish I could urge a posse of hedge fund billionaires to “short the sh*t out of” the companies, and industries, who are responsible for this unconscionable “rally” — Thus endeth my tirade and my sermon — Peace!
This blog was produced by Scott Mathews.
Afterthought about walking on the beach of plastic bits
In the interest of being more “global” — Here is Wikipedia’s citation of how to say Snap! Crackle! Pop! in other languages:
Danish: Pif! Paf! Puf!
Swedish: Piff! Paff! Puff!
German: Knisper! Knasper! Knusper!
Spanish: Pim! Pam! Pum!
Finnish: Riks! Raks! Poks!
French: Cric! Crac! Croc!
Dutch: Pif! Paf! Pof!
Afrikaans: Knap! Knetter! Knak!
Belgium:”Poos! Pas! “
…and, here is what the early Rolling Stones had to say about it…
And, on a parting note. Here is an evocative shot of the tragedy:
When I saw this surfer in the trash , I could not help but think about a silly novelty song from 1963, that was the final #1 hit on the radio in New York before the Beatles started to own that slot.
This YouTube video has 16 Million views. The clip is from Dick Clark’s American Bandstand,