This session tackled an immense problem of our time, nearly as worrying as climate change. The problem is the pollution of the oceans mainly by plastic waste and Val Murton presented the topic very clearly and carefully. Certain Asian countries seemed to be the main offenders but all countries seem to indulge in dumping, except a few which are very alert to their responsibilities.
One major feature is that vast amounts of waste are carried on sea currents and merge into blocks just below the surface and are hard to see. They become damaging to shipping and to the quality of our sea water. Various costly attempts to eliminate these packs as great as hundreds of miles long have been attempted but with little success but one remedy which may offer some success is a new policy of ‘guiding’ the ‘islands’ of waste to quieter areas and drawing the material onto land. There some nations sort it out and make money from selling reclaimable waste but this is a long haul in every way.
In the meantime the real, but invisible, damage is the minute fragmentation of plastics which is then ingested by all sea creatures and birds which cannot distinguish, of course, the persistent damage to themselves, their progeny and eventually to human beings. Marine structures like coral also suffer. As well as damage at the ‘top’, deep layers of foul plastics cover much of the sea floor.
Remedy: as ever, a massive reduction of dumping by all governments and industries and whole nations will be the only hope of clearing up the detritus. What is needed is a clear, firm ban on careless pollution from plastic and the flushing of oil tanks by shipping. We really should act, but will we?
Our group handled this topic very well: cogent arguments, good new ideas and full awareness of our predicament …. things which can one day give us hope.
Our next meeting is on Thursday, 8th September. Emeritus Professor Mike Goldsmith will give us a realistic view of the UK’s future with the European Union after the Brexit referendum, with its misleading stories – for and against – which irritated the nation from the start.
A most important meeting so please have your views and worries ready to share. New members welcome. Tom Gilmore.