Recently, an area off the coast of the Dominican Republic was filmed by something called the Environmental Media Association. The shocking footage shows plastic covering a significant area in the ocean, and the organization tweeted it recently.
Their post reads:
“How many of these videos do we need to see before we change our habits? Our convenience shouldn’t kill our planet.
This was taken in the Dominican Republic via Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii.”
RT for our oceans! How many of these videos do we need to see before we change our habits? Our convenience shouldn't kill our planet. This was taken in the Dominican Republic. Via Sustainable Coastlines Hawaii. #plasticpollution pic.twitter.com/QxfMDJmSsd
— Enviro. Media Assoc. (@green4EMA) July 17, 2018
The video hasn’t gotten as much traction as some posts do, but it’s something that organically raises eyebrows and draws attention, so it will probably, and hopefully continue to climb in views.
Plastic waste is one of those things that people don’t have the attention span, time, or energy, or really capability to do much about. It’s going to have some serious consequences for us, and the poor don’t really have a say in what companies manufacture giant amounts of plastic, but people are naturally unable to comprehend solving the issue.
Here’s a thing about apathy: there’s a spectrum that has at one end of it, apathy, and at the other end of the spectrum, there exists an attitude that can make people cringe for how it sounds to care.
Unfortunately with issues like this, plastic polluting the oceans, a lot of people you’re going to get who care about this issue will actually make people want to pay even less attention to the issue, because they will make not so inspired people and non-activists cringe at their attitude.
Cringe, it happens when someone reporting on an issue, or commenting on an issue speaks in a way that is completely detached from realistically how they feel, and how people feel. For example, listen to the way this Unilad article reports on the video:
“Reactions to Environmental Media Association’s video bring to light the need for everyone across the world to double their efforts to reduce plastic usage, which will reduce the detrimental effects it has on our planet.
Elizabeth Mouncher replied to the post by tagging big-name supermarket stores like Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Tesco, writing:
‘Lost for words. Come on everyone we all need to do our bit. That includes you the supermarkets please find your conscience. My pears do not need 3 layers of packaging. Bring back brown paper bags.'”
There’s something not honest or realistic about the way that was phrased. It sounds like those words mean nothing, “reduce plastic usage.” It doesn’t sound like an actual understanding of what plastic pollution is, how it happens, how it is fixed, ect.
This is a real issue that needs to be solved, but why is it that so many people and news reports on this type of issue get so cringey and bland? It’s because those people are actually apathetic, and trying to bring out their care maybe by saying it like that, but we’re all honestly suffering from apathy.
So a strategy that is being proposed by people to solve this plastic pollution problem in the ocean, which is a truly serious problem that hurts truly beautiful creatures we fail to empathize with enough, is hitting the ocean with plastic-consuming bacteria.
That sounds like a holistic, pretty natural way to solve the problem: at first. In an article from EDF, it was pointed out by the EDF’s Chief Ocean Scientist that there have been proposals to spray some enzymes in the ocean, from bacteria that eats plastic, to get rid of the pollution.
However, some seriously negative effects could come from just isolating some specific enzyme and spraying it, naturally: that type of forced, unnatural solution often fails to work. According to EDF:
“Recent reporting on the discovery and enhancement of plastic-dissolving enzymes in bacteria made me stop and think about what this might mean for the plastic pollution problem that is plaguing oceans and choking the world’s coral reefs.”
“The untold millions of tons of plastic that ends up in the sea – and in landfills – have created an absolutely huge new food source for naturally existing, and very hungry, microbes. In fact, some scientists think microbes eating plastic are already an important reason that the plastics numbers do not add up – the amount of plastic we see in the ocean is much less than the total amount of plastic calculated to have been piled and poured into it.
Similar “hydrocarbon digestion” was documented during the 2010 Gulf oil spill, for example, when a very large fraction of the oil was consumed by subsurface microbes.”
“Using direct enzyme spraying – or microbes engineered to deliver environmentally active enzymes – widely in the sea presents all kinds of unassessed hazards. In general, such interventions have a long history of inducing underappreciated side effects, and we would be well-served to take it slow.”
A balance has to be struck between apathy which would lead to a terrible world in the future, all really a consequence of momentary satisfaction and laziness, and caring (or pretending to) so much that it’s cringey.
Admitting that it’s innately hard to not be apathetic about issues so detached from our current lives, such as plastic in the ocean, while trying to use less plastic sounds like a decent way to strike this balance.
Also people should be aware that it’s becoming a theme, for people in power to tap into some organic desire to better the world like this, and abuse it as an excuse to do or control something. They take true issues and turn them into schemes sometimes, with fake philanthropies, fake environmentalists, ect. There’s no agenda to spot here, but never forget how prevalent fake philanthropy is.