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From GREENPEACE Canada, Million Acts of Blue, Plastic-free Future Toolkit.
Key facts and information
What’s the current state of the plastic pollution crisis?
- About 8.3 billion tonnes of plastic has been produced since the 1950s – the weight of roughly a billion elephants or 47 million blue whales. 
- Only about 9% of this plastic has been recycled, 12% has been burned and the remaining 79% has ended up in landfills or the environment.
- In Canada, about 3 million tonnes of waste plastic is generated each year and only 10-12% is recycled.
- Up to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enters the oceans every year.
- The equivalent of a truckload of plastic enters the oceans every minute.
- There are five trillion pieces of plastic in our oceans – enough to circle the Earth over 400 times.
- Countries like Canada, the US and the UK export plastic waste to various countries in Asia and Africa8-10, offloading their trash problem to other communities.
- Almost 10,000 tonnes of plastic enters the Great Lakes each year.
Who is most impacted by plastic pollution?
- Scientists have documented 700 marine species affected by ocean plastic.
- Up to 9 of 10 seabirds, 1 in 3 sea turtles and more than half of whale and dolphin species have ingested plastic.
- In the Canadian Arctic, 87% of birds have ingested plastics of some sort.
- Crustaceans tested at the ocean’s deepest point, Mariana Trench, had ingested plastic.
- People living along rivers and coastlines in China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam are the most impacted by plastic pollution.
- Low income communities face more health impacts near plastic production sites, have greater exposure to toxins and waste, and bear the brunt of the impacts of improper plastic disposal and incineration.
- Henderson Island in the South Pacific is the most plastic polluted of any island recorded to date.
Who’s to blame for this problem?
- Annual plastic production has skyrocketed since the early 1950s, reaching 322 million tonnes in 2015. This does not include synthetic fibers used in clothing, rope and other products which accounted for 61 million tonnes in 2016. It is expected that plastic production will continue to increase, likely doubling by 2025..
- Drink companies alone produce over 500 billion single-use plastic bottles annually.
- Well known coffee company Starbucks produces 4 billion coffee cups each year.
- Tim Hortons sells 2 billion cups of coffee a year and most are sold in throwaway cups.
- Tens of billions of bags of chips are sold each year by companies like Pepsi Co.
- 500 million straws are produced each day in the United States alone, that’s over a straw a day for each American!
What are real solutions?
- Government bans and restrictions for unnecessary and damaging plastic products or activities. Legislative reuse targets.
- Mandated Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) regulations and strategies to make producers and companies responsible for the damage plastic causes to our environment, make them accountable for the entire life cycle and true costs of their products.
- Government and corporate investment in reuse models and new ways to deliver products using less or no packaging.
- Corporate phase out of production and use of single-use plastic products and throwaway product models.
- A shift in dominant public mindsets away from our throwaway culture focused on convenience being equal to disposal, toward a vision of healthy, sustainable and more connected communities.
What are false solutions?
- Bioplastics – not as green as they seem, approach with caution. Though companies often market them under the same umbrella, a product is not necessarily biodegradable and may require very specific conditions to break down. They also do not solve the litter or throwaway culture problem.
- Incineration – creates other pollution and does not address the overproduction problem.
- Focusing on end of life like recycling or disposal – we can’t recycle our way out of this crisis.
- Clean up – while clean up efforts help reduce litter problems, they do not address the source of the problem and ignore the unseen plastic pollution – microplastics.
- Throwaway alternatives – replacing one single-use item with another does not necessarily solve the problem or help to address our throwaway culture.
Who is championing solutions?
- Around the world, various cities, countries and regions are banning or proposing bans on different single-use plastics like Morocco’s bag ban, Seattle, U.S.’s straw ban, and the City of Vancouver, Canada’s proposed coffee cup and styrofoam container ban.
- More than 30 countries have either regional or country-wide bans on plastic bags, and dozens more have levied fees or taxes on disposable bags.
- UK retailer Iceland committed to go plastic free for all of its own brand products.
- Zero waste supermarkets are popping up in various cities in countries including the UK, Germany, Canada, the United States, Mexico, South Africa and more.
 Statistics Canada, Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database. Accessed September 2017.
Rochester Institute of Technology. (2016, December 19). Researchers estimate 10,000 metric tons of plastic enter Great Lakes every year: Study inventories movement of plastic and microplastic debris throughout lake system. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 9, 2018 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/12/161219151752.htm
Gall and Thompson, 2015; Kühn et al., 2015
S. Baulch, C. Perry / Marine Pollution Bulletin 80 (2014) 210–221
Reposted from NEW BOOKS Network
FREDERICK L. BROWN
The City is More Than Human
An Animal History of Seattle
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON PRESS 2016
March 30, 2018
Review by Stephen Hausmann
Not all city dwellers are bipedal, according to Frederick L. Brown author of The City is More Than Human: An Animal History of Seattle (University of Washington Press, 2016). The history of Seattle, and all cities, is as much about its non-human inhabitants as its human ones, argues Brown, an independent scholar working on a contractual basis with the National Park Service. Salish-speaking people, the earliest inhabitants of the Puget Sound, had myriad relationships with animals. They thought of them as important symbols and as spiritual guides, and used them as a critical resource base.
Read more and listen to Podcast here.
Thanks DMF at Synthetic Zero for recommending this post.
Image and book here.
by Joshua Mason, Fieldwork Studios
Eruption Against the Sun, Joshua Mason
As an emergent feature of the Sun’s energy economy, organic life is subject to entropic necessity. Life as a manifestation of necrogenic vitality is inherently entwined with death. Painting, as an intensification of life, is an artifact of the humic indwelling. It is earthbound, composed of the nigredo of Earth. As an artifact of time’s arrow, painting is founded on a millennia of extinctions.
Painting is a confrontation with death because it is an intensification of life. What I mean by that is perhaps that the painter is one who evokes images out of the chaos of the world, and this process is an intensification of being as it confronts directly the materiality of the world. This confrontation with materials is a confrontation with catastrophe, even Becoming itself. Death is a vector of exteriorization or that loosening into the abyss. The life/death is in every mark, every instant impact of the material, as there persists the cyclical trajectory: life, death, rebirth, life, death, rebirth…
…And so it is with everything else: energies are never created or destroyed, only transformed from one to another.
The symbolic dimension of life/death ungrounds us: life, as an emergent feature of the solar economy, does not exist on a solid foundation. Everything is in a process of transformation. This process-oriented reality is unsettling for our identity. Reified and static wholes collapse in the realization that all matter is in a state of constant change.
This constant change is indicative of sheer potency, as nature-naturing or nature doing what nature does. Nature-naturing never ceases enumerations, contrasts, combinations spatially, linearly or chromatically. This ought to inform the materiality of practice.
The Moderns preached constraints of a particular medium, and later, the redefinition in terms of specific productions of meaning. This has to do with the construction of general cultural categories and typologies of art, which are both necessary and important, but little to do with the conditions – natural, instinctual, preexistent. There is the energy of nature-naturing, as sheer potency. From this position, which is a vanishing point because it is preordinal, the entire horizon of material embodiment and the enunciative field are encompassed. Although it is not possible to represent this vanishing point, it is possible to observe its self-possessed effects. There is no relevance to constraint for the sake of constraint in the medium, as if the demand for objective purposes could also encase a transcendental truth. Conditions can never be constrained, consolidated, determined as if they were stable.
What shifts through this orientation is the concern of art’s position. The particulars of art and exhibition, as materiality and enunciative field, are constituted and dispersed out of processes of ‘nature doing what nature does.’ No works of art are birthed out of a void, but are in keeping with the law of Conservation of Energy. Potency is a constant force that permeates the field; it generates all of the varying contingencies (objects, actions, ideas, texts, strategies, interpretations, etc.) The associated categories of life, art, text, commitment, are reconsidered under the potent condition that emanates their organization.
And while the Earth has often been a subject to painting, painting is subject to the Earth.
Deposition is a particular emphasis on the geologic qualities of painting. It is an encounter with the factuality of painting. But it is also a matter for aesthetic reflection. Painting’s factuality thus exists in correspondence with the imagination in its ability to evoke images. Forces engender forms and cross over into compositions and compositions cross over into forces outside of painterly agency, as a constant tension. The identity is always on the verge of sinking under the sediment.
The mere fact of the paint is never the entire aim, however, just as technique is never really the only concern, because content persists: painting is an involved process. The geologic process is unique in regards to other, more refined possibilities, because it consists of the potential towards self-differentiation. Involvement with this kind of painting tends to dissipate the abstract will (identity) into mineralization, asserting a corporeality and a kind of embodiment that appears immanent. The aim of aesthetic reflection is to therefore see oneself within this self-differentiation, as being encompassed by it, and ultimately, as a consequence of its condition.
In regards to painting’s self-referentiality, it is essentially a confrontation with its own death, or more specifically, with that chasm between painting’s ontology and the vanishing point.
Can I come to see myself as constituted by the world of contingency, as in a state of constant change? In what hidden or unrepresentable ways does this process of nature express the site where factuality meets the logos? This geology, as condition of possibility for the humic indwelling, determines the incarnation of ‘the flesh’ The flesh is the texture of worlds. The matter at hand is therefore what matters, or the mattering of matter: an alchemical process turning dross into gold, as an inflection by the ghost of beauty incarnate in the flesh.
…density, duration, animation, dissipation – ‘the creation of the world of art is the creation of the world,’ said Kandinsky.
Reposted with minor edits from Not So Solid Earth: Mineralizing the Imagination
post by Liam Heneghan
Please join the Institute for Nature & Culture as we welcome DePaul Professor of English Ted Anton for a reading and discussion of his most recent book, Planet of Microbes: Perils and Promise in the Earth’s Essential Life Forms.
Wednesday, April 4, 4:00-5:30 p.m., DePaul University, McGowan South, 204
[Ted’s] new book explores the latest discoveries that may reshape the future of our planet and our understanding of where we came from, detailing the ways in which the world’s tiniest, and sometimes most dangerous, microorganisms are being tapped as allies in seeking better health and a sustainable future.
From microbreweries to volcanic hot pools, the bottom of the ocean and miles below the earth’s surface, from our gardens to our bodies to Mars, a hidden living world is deepening our vision of life’s capabilities.
Planet of Microbes puts a new spin on a remarkable era as powerful new tools reveal the abilities of microbes that respire minerals, make our wine, and shape our climate, in ways that might have therapeutic relevance. A comprehensive yet integrated overview of the microbial world around us, integrating concepts from many different disciplines and drawing lines of interdisciplinary activity where normally people don’t see them, it reveals the ways in which microbes have shaped the planet and all life around us.
See video from WTTW’s Chicago Tonight: http://chicagotonight.wttw.com/2018/01/09/microbes-earth-s-oldest-and-most-essential-life-forms
Block quote from Anton’s website.
Image and book can be found here.