The pollution of the environment continues, microplastics have been found in the ocean, in the fish we eat, in our cities we live, in the mountains, in the air we breathe, and at the end of 2020 the latest discovery with microplastic in the placenta of humans. The sample size is tiny, but it is positive evidence, here is the link to the study:
Every day we bombarded with images of government leaders and C suite executives swanning around the globe attending events, conferences, summits, Davos, and the like, demonstrating that the idea of trying to lower carbon emissions is just an idea for the great unwashed, they must have a shelf granted exemption right?
Sustainability strategists happily jet setting across the planet to tackle climate change, is not their problem, it is our problem, the masses need to saving the planet.
Look at this great piece on QZ.com (link) tracking helicopter flights into and out of Davos during the world economic forum.
While surveys indicate people want to act or are willing to act more sustainability, the man on the street is busying learning visually.
When the boss leaves the lights on, he is signaling to everyone else, it is perfectly fine to leave the lights on and waste energy, for the masses it is easier to follow the norm rather than try to break the rule. If you ask why, people are unaware, they follow their intuition but given time some rational explanations emerge.
I see it every day, you probably see it too, more and more examples, of government officials and C suite executives chauffeured and helicoptered around Davos at great environmental cost.
We see groups and leaders ignoring sustainability choosing single-use plastic water bottles at “Green” conferences, people will say they want to act sustainably but don’t, they don’t because we can all see the real message and we learn from the C suite world examples.
Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do
It is increasingly apparent that administrators across the globe have the same playbook, in the event of a potential crisis, the first step is denial denial denial, event’s in Flint Michigan and closer to home in Hong Kong Public Housing estates exposed us to water contaminated with Lead (Pb) , and both authorities denied it. Private citizens were forced to present laboratory reports to officials, and some still denied the obvious fact.
In Hong Kong, the conservative water authority (WSD) started issuing bulletin after bulletin, but ultimately missing the point I fear. After completion, WSD will never willingly step inside the estate, as they often remind us, their responsibility ends at the site boundary. And inside the boundary, yes the works must comply with the regulations, but its down to the developer. So back to Public Housing, the flat is handed over to the new tenant, with what can only be described as bog-standard fittings, and a visit to the local hardware store is in order, to buy new taps and fittings, and without any import restrictions, every type and model is on display whether certified or not.
With years of experience behind us, have we learnt from the past, not really, the difference is that even your kids know it. Young adults globally have been vocal expressing alarm unhappy with the administrator’s response to climate change. And recent warnings that we have 10-12 years left has not shaken the establishment.
Certainly, some countries are moving forward, but remember the hole in the ozone layer, it needed everyone to be involved, and fully committed, but here are, mid-2019, and there is still no plan. In the United Kingdom authorities are under pressure to recognize the issue and declare a state of emergency, but really that does not help, in a world where China and USA are not on-board. The people, it seems are seriously concerned about sustainability, but not their politicians. Therefore businesses react to the loudest consumers, with often token efforts. the Plastic tonnage in your oceans will not be impacted because a few plastic straws were taken off the counter, look at the scale of plastic pollution and it becomes apparent. Government inaction has also sparked communities to act, with city mayors trying to coordinate their efforts to tackle to climate change, and has that delivered deep carbon emission cuts required? Probably not.
In Hong Kong, the carbon emissions from buildings continue to increase, the latest EMSD data (latest data is 2016) reported building carbon emissions are still increasing, that was caused by us, you and me, using more energy, not the Government. Equally, it’s unsurprising, every year the number of buildings increases, using more energy.
Do nothing and wait is one strategy, waiting for the authorities to finally bite the bullet, create a plan, and implement it might be the ideal, but by then maybe too little too late.
Prevention is better than cure, we know it, but too often ignore it until it is too late. Over the last year or so, increasing evidence of plastic polluting the oceans has been making global headlines, and now the plastic story is hitting home.
A local study demonstrated that a popular local fish have been found having ingested plastic (RTHK) the study reports 60% of flat head grey mullet had ingested plastic. Granted it was a small study, but that does necessarily mean the results can be ignored.
Even bottled drinking water, often sold on the basis of “safer” water is under scrutiny revealing it is not just fish enjoying plastic diet. A study found plastic in the majority of bottled drinking water (BBC report), to which, the manufacturers responded there is no standard, implying measurement, monitoring, controlling or limiting the quantity of plastic in drinking water is not needed.
It’s a problem, standards are created retrospectively, we can’t create a new Standard for products that do not yet exist, in the case of bottled drinking water nobody, and that really means Govt., has been watching the store.
Abroad, some countries have started, somewhat belatedly, to act, and that will impact the thousands of manufacturers involved in the plastics business. In the UK outright bans are threatened for certain plastic products, an attempt to prevent further damage, but no word how the existing pollution in the environment will be removed from the oceans.
What is interesting, the key motivator has not been the so called green groups, the reporting in the mainstream media has been instrumental, and highlighted these environmental issues, with shocking photos and videos circulated through social media. Justin Hoffman’s photo below is a good example (link to his website https://www.justin-hofman.com)
It’s a new era, striking video and images, that have been circulated widely and easily through social media have motivated the public, in turn, pressured politicians into action.
On 18 April 2018, the UK Govt. announced its intention to ban plastic straws, plastic stirrers, and cotton buds using plastic, the latter because of the seahorse image, we might never know.
Banning single-use plastic is undoubtedly a step in the right direction, and avoids difficult waste management questions, how did that drinking straw or cotton bud leap from the consumer into the ocean. We know there are islands of floating garbage in worlds ocean, has seafill taken over the role of landfill?
A shocking example must be the 2017 Floating Trash ‘Island’ Spotted in the Caribbean Sea Near Roatan #seafill (there is a video on youtube (https://youtu.be/GSMGKwZBaWM) Caroline Power’s video and images shocked the world showing the floating rubbish stretching for miles in the once pristine Caribbean waters (Telegraph article). Was this island of waste washed from the Caribbean land islands or seafill?
Floating Trash ‘Island’ Spotted in the Caribbean Sea Near Roatan Credit: Caroline Power and Caroline Power Photography #seafill
Sadly, the fact remains, you have to admit we did it, and the damage is already done, the UK Govt. estimate there are 150 million tonnes of plastic waste already in the world’s oceans, the UK’s ban on microbeads, single-use plastics today may help slow the disaster, but its not a cure.