Plastic, a heatwave and a drug baron’s hippos

IF there is one clear-cut certainty about plastic it’s that few other substances in the world today are anything like as useful, versatile or as mobile.

Having kept mankind company for well over a hundred years, plastic continues on its globally nomadic journey while offering nary a clue as to when, or if, it might ever slow down.

While there 1,001 items of plastic that we couldn’t possibly do without, the issues surrounding its devastating ‘end-of-use’ polluting capabilities have become globally embarrassing.


DUE especially to the unacceptably devastating effects on marine wildlife, captured so vividly in scores of television documentaries, the results of discarded plastic are now indelibly engraved on the public conscience.

As a direct result, our global psyche has finally recognised what has now become a wholly unacceptable situation.

It is certainly one that makes a quotation by Ela Bhatt particularly clear, timely and relevant. ‘Statistics in the hands of activists have power.’


THE obvious cardinal sin of plastic is that it has become an item of unadulterated convenience, particularly when morphing into plastic bags or food containers.

Worldwide, over one million plastic bags are reputed to end up in the rubbish bin every minute of every day.

Estimates show that, during each one-year period, single-use plastics account for 40% of all plastic productivity.

Just half a century ago, a little over two million tonnes of admittedly versatile plastic material was produced worldwide, a figure that went ballistic in 2015 to 448 million tonnes.


AS if to prove that climate change has no intention of sticking to the lockdown rule books, there’s a remarkable meteorological report just in from Arctic Siberia.

Unsurprisingly, temperatures in the remote Russian town of Verkhoyansk drop dramatically during each winter which, in 1885, surpassed themselves by dropping to a record minus 67.8˚c.

In June of this year, records were broken again but in the opposite direction with an overgenerous high of some 30 degrees.

The word is that another plaque recording these abnormally high temperatures is to be placed alongside the existing one marking the bitterly cold record of 1885.

Doubtless the summer of 2020 has, quite literally, left the 1,300 or so residents of Verkhoyansk in a bit of an unaccustomed sweat.


THE continuing roving capabilities of ‘oceanic’ plastic waste have been accurately pinpointed through scientific studies undertaken in the South Pacific.

A survey on washed-up plastic debris was carried out on Henderson Island, an uninhabited atoll sitting between Chile and New Zealand.

Sifting through the plastic rubbish revealed items from as far afield as Japan, China, Russia, South America and the USA.

Yet another shocking indictment of our thoughtless throw-away society.


ALTHOUGH now tucked away in temporary hibernation because of Covid-19, a new ‘Earth Project Visitor Centre’ is still scheduled to open within the Snowdonia National Park in Wales.

Lauded as a timely and exciting project, and in close collaboration with stakeholders, environmentalists, artists and engineers, its aims are to investigate all areas of low-carbon sustainability.

Somewhat ironically, a similar suggestion was put to our own political masters three years ago by way of re-energising the potential of an already existing St Ouen’s Bay visitor centre.

As an innovative contribution to Jersey’s Proposed Common Strategic Policy 2018-22, the ‘still-to-be-addressed’ proposal is likewise aimed at exploring future areas of environmental sustainability.


AND finally.

Attempting to find an environmental connection between a drug baron and nature conservation might seem a little beyond the realms of reality.

And yet, the demise of the notorious drug overlord Pablo Escobar in 1993 has resulted in an uneasy forced relationship between the Colombian government and conservationists.

Everyone involved has evidently been left with something of a major eco-ponder.

The cause of such consternation revolves around an original tally of four extra-large hippopotamus, the remains of Pablo Escobar’s private zoo.

While homes were found for the other animals, this quartet of hippos were allowed to ‘go native’ in a rather large and exotic expanse of river.

While appropriate ‘rewilding’ is to be applauded, the current ‘ever-on-the-happy-increase’ self-wilding hippos have evidently been taking procreation a smidgen too far.

Solving the conservation/culling issues of this – now 80-plus – ‘hippo-overpopulation’ saga is causing high tension between the Colombian government, ecologists and environmentalists.

For the hippos, it’s likely to prove a bit of long drawn-out yawn.

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