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Plastic, and Albatrosses around our necks

Posted by Michael on Wednesday, March 26th, 2008

Today, a BBC story called “New ‘Battle of Midway’ on plastic,” made it clear how seriously our never-to-biodegrade plastics are damaging our ecosystems:

The Midway Islands are home to some of the world’s most valuable and endangered species and they all are at risk from choking, starving or drowning in the plastic drifting in the ocean.

Nearly two million Laysan albatrosses live here and researchers have come to the staggering conclusion that every single one contains some quantity of plastic.

About one-third of all albatross chicks die on Midway, many as the result of being mistakenly fed plastic by their parents.

Every single albatross contains “some quantity of plastic”! This isn’t just another canary in the coal mine — this is humankind thoughtlessly poisoning our own wells with our own crap.

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” because he killed a lucky bird, the Mariner was required to hang the rotting corpse around his neck, as punishment:

God save thee, ancient Mariner
From the fiends, that plague thee thus
Why look’st thou so ? - “With my cross-bow
I shot the ALBATROSS.”

Ah. well a-day. what evil looks
Had I from old and young
Instead of the cross, the Albatross
About my neck was hung.

Ah, well a-day indeed.

The stinking, rotting corpses of the albatrosses — the ones dying on Midway, as well as the fish, birds, whales, seals and turtles dying from ingesting our plastic — will be around our necks for a long, long time.

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