Thursday, January 20, 2022

PBS Digital's 'Be Smart' asks 'Can We Actually Clean Up the Plastic Pollution Problem?'

I discussed three of Commoner's Laws in CNBC explains 'Why The U.S. Has A Massive Lithium Supply Problem', there is no free lunch, everything is connected to everything else, and nature knows best. Today, it's time to examine about the fourth, there is no away, using PBS Digital's "Be Smart" asking Can We Actually Clean Up the Plastic Pollution Problem?

Can we really clean our way out of this problem?
There’s been a lot of talk on YouTube lately about ocean plastic pollution and #TeamSeas. But there hasn’t been enough talk about the **ridiculously unthinkable scale of the ocean plastic pollution problem** or how it intersects with other environmental issues like climate change. And here’s a big spoiler alert: Nearly all environmental scientists agree that ocean plastic pollution isn’t a problem we can clean our way out of. So what CAN we do? That’s what this video is about.
There's been a lot of talk about cleaning up plastic pollution on YouTube lately. But there was a lot that wasn't talked about too. The problem is much, MUCH bigger than you realize, and it's worth asking: Can we actually clean our way out of this problem? Or do we need other solutions? That's why I made this video. And if you want more, there's oodles of references in the description!
The longevity of plastic is the answer to one of the questions I ask about Treasures of the Earth: Power: "Why is plastic a challenge for disposal?" The answer I'm expecting is that it isn't biodegradable and persists in the environment. Students also answer that there are so many varieties of plastic, many of which aren't recyclable. I also accept that answer, even though it's not the point of that part of the video.

Speaking of the varieties of plastic, PBS in both "Be Smart" and "Treasures of the Earth" describe the number of uses for plastic, which I also ask about: "What uses are there for plastic? Name five uses or products." That's for the environmental science students; I cut it from the worksheet for geology so I could ask a question about the depositional environment of coal — swamps. Priorities.

By the way, "Treasures of the Earth: Power" includes that same clip from "The Graduate." At the time, it was a joke and an unflattering character observation. More than 50 years later, it has turned out to be ironically prophetic.

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