Plastic's ubiquitous presence continues to grow, its pernicious effects though, despite obvious manifestations such as the gyres in the Pacific Ocean, and its less infamous mate in the Atlantic, and documentation such as Chris Jordan's bird photos from the Midway, are very little understood. They are manifested by fish that consume it and in turn are consumed by whales, or by birds that eat it until their stomachs burst, and manufactured on a scale that no "plastic bags ban", such as San Francisco's will put the slightest dent in, such bans being restricted to only the grocery bag. So now, one needs to purchase a paper bag, @ .10/pop, (which, even at that price, doesn't actually cover its costs, it's just a number they picked), and then fill it with plastic bags full of produce, or rice, or meat, bread, potato/corn chips, cheese (cheese is the best one, as it's wrapped in plastic containing single slices each of which is also wrapped in plastic), plastic containers of peanut butter, coffee, yogurt, milk, margarine, etc, etc, even to the point where now, organic, or whatever makes the Red Mills brand and its competitors of flour, superior, is, instead of the old standby of paper, that Pillsbury and the Supermarkets' brands use, are now lined with plastic as well. So if you decide to Go organic, it's basically just another way to more quickly poison everything else in the environment.
How did this happen? Well, as in all industrial processes, there is waste. Think of the slag heaps of steel mills and the coal ash that just poisoned the river in West Virginia. After oil is sucked from the ground, it goes to refineries where it undergoes a process called 'cracking". Yes, that's right, first it's fracked, then it's cracked into its constituent parts, from which you get heating oil, gasoline, propane, butane, toluene, and myriad other byproducts, and then, what to do with the rest? Why, in a clever molecular process of polymerization, it's knitted into the material we know as plastic. Extruded. A remarkable instance of turning something that would have been just waste into something useful. Only now, the problem is, that the more oil we burn for those other uses, especially gasoline, the more that's left over to make plastic. All different kinds of plastic, more plastic than the world could ever reasonably need, such that Capitalism, in it strongest manifestation, as that is where it shines, taking something already concentrated and useless in its current form, into something for which it creates a demand. That's what Union Carbide did with Asbestos, for instance, after they found a mountain of it in Canada, much like the tar sands, but without the necessity of having to pour billions into the process first, (and which its purchaser Dow Chemical is still fighting lawsuits over, believing one can buy the assets of a company, but not its liabilities), since they figured it would be a good ingredient to put in Wall Compound, that material that then gets sanded (whodda thunk?), and the dust, breathed in by the hapless construction workers, had the unfortunate effect of killing them off (which, from the corporate perspective, is perfect. All those pension payouts no longer have to be made, funneling all that cash to the deserving shareholders (well, as it turned out, lawyers and lobbyists) instead).
Much the same is happening now, only this time to all of us, and we're enjoying it. And it's only getting worse, as well as worsted, as it now used in clothing, which, when washed, sloughs off micro polyester threads that get washed into lakes and streams, is ingested by fish, killing them in much the same way as Chris Jordans' birds. And nano beads are now deliberately added to creams to cause derm-abrasion to make your skin softer while you make life harder for your fellow creatures.
And just as Dow Chemical is fighting taking responsibility, that is how all businesses behave. But whereas once governments could at least make token gestures toward ameliorative actions once the environs were poisoned, there are none that now have that power. So whose going to solve this, along with a slew of other dilemmas modern life has seen crop up? There is a saying, with great power comes great responsibility. But in the case of corporations, that translates into their being responsible for creating the problem, but have no responsibility, in either temperament or law, for the negative consequences of their actions. This, like the problems themselves, is also only getting worse, as the Trade treaties that have been "agreed" to since NAFTA, only get more and more secretive, and strip more and more power from the sovereign State, serving as straight jackets that immobilize them from protecting their citizens from anything the corporations find is healthy to their bottom line or shareholder payout.
In this mad mad mad mad world, it is hard to see the terrorists as being the only insane ones, despite the horrors of their actions. On some level what they are doing makes some sense, especially if you consider the fact that the accident in Bhopal was an accident waiting to happen because of the lack of safety measures that should have, and with a less compliant (ie bribed) government, would have, been in place. In other words, Greed was what caused it. And whereas there is no way that mankind can eliminate greed as an ingredient in human beings' makeup, stoking it to the point where it is the predominant component of the economic engine of the world and then stripping nations of the ability of punishing it when it gets out of hand leaves us with the logic of ISIS. There is no one to fight against the destruction such a world can wreak on its inhabitants, so the only ones that CAN fight it are the ones crazy enough to stand up to it. And that sure as hell isn't going to be any politician I know. Do you know any? Someone like Ukraine's Poroshenko, maybe? More likely the notorious Semen Semenchenko; wherein lies the seed of the problem. Only the crazy's who feel that they have nothing to lose dare stand up against the insanity of the world we've created.
So, as yet another refinery goes up in flames, this one in LA, we need to decide: how are we to organize our societies so that they make sense, becasue, right now, they quite obviously do not, yet anyone who points this out is vilified and shut out of the conversation. So what are we to do? Just give up? Just let it go on like this until the endtimes, and let them win; prove them right? Our life, our world, our future, is far too precious, and there's still far too much that is good about it, and Frodo's Sam was right, it's worth fighting for, but not like this. Not like in Syria, or Iraq, or Ukraine, or any of the other places armies are murdering one another in our name to accomplish absolutely zero, in terms of changing anything that needs to be changed, no matter whose army wins. Is this really it? Is this really all we can do? I don't believe it, I really don't believe that, but at the same time I'm at a loss. Paralyzed like the man in the photo, yet,
Still I send up my prayer
Wondering where it has to go
With heaven full of astronauts
And the Lord on death row
While the millions of his lost and lonely ones
Call out and clamour to be found
Caught in their struggle for higher positions
And their search for love that sticks around. (Joni Mitchell)
There's no one out there who's going to help us. We have to do it ourselves. But first we have to know enough to ask the only one that can help us ... each other.