Tuesday, 7 December 2010

The world is full of garbage

I often wonder how future generations will survive on this earth. And if they do, what will they think of us?

The world is full of garbage. Literally. Every day we create more and more garbage. On an indivdual level; we throw out 400 kg per person per year. Well, that's the quantity for France. The average American produces 900 kg of waste, while in Senegal the amount is only 170 kg. Basically, the richer you are, the more you throw away.

Talking about recycling is fine, we are all full of good intentions. But some things can't be recycled. And some people simply don't bother. Most of all, we've done too little, too late.

The plastic that we dispose of every day is ending up in the oceans. Sea birds are found with their stomachs full of plastic. Turtles die from eating plastic bags that they mistake for jellyfish. In the Pacific ocean, there is a huge "plastic stew" that covers an area the size of a continent. It contains around 100 million tonnes of plastic!

In Lebanon, there is a mountain of garbage that's 50 metres high and 375 metres long. As it's situated on the coast, it regularly collapses and falls into the sea.

That's not all. I recently read an article in New Scientist about the over 8,500 vessels that were sunk during World War II and that are so many timebombs. They are spread all over the world, and contain somewhere between 2.5 and 20 million tonnes of oil. And that oil is starting to leak. The first leak happened in 2001 when a typhoon hit one of the areas where a military oil tanker had sunk in 1944. For the rest of the vessels, it's just a matter of time. The steel plate they are made of is gradually corroding, and nobody is doing anything about it.

What can we do? Not much. We can continue to recycle. We can stop buying plastic. We can lobby our governments to do something about pollution. Let's just hope our children and our children's children will find a way to clear up the mess we have left behind.

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