It is a curious situation that the sea, from which life first arose should now be threatened by the activities of one form of that life. But the sea, though changed in a sinister way, will continue to exist; the threat is rather to life itself.” - Rachel Carson, 1951

The world is warming up because of human activity and as a result extreme events will destroy entire regions of the world, ancestral livelihoods and individual lives. It will costs trillions of dollars in various, sometimes hidden, ways, though a large part of these costs could be avoided with dramatic and immediate actions. One of the major polluters is plastics, an ubiquitous material that is used for everything -and anything.

The Great Garbage Patches in the Pacific, Southern and Northern Atlantic as well as Indian oceans are the most obvious signs that humans are producing too much plastics. Needless packaging, water bottles and cheap shit mostly end up in landfills (at best) or are washed away in the environment were they slowly degrade, leaving a trail of chemicals that are then incorporated into life itself. Plastics are found in tap water, the Arctic ice, fishes, sea salt, and the food you consume.

Yet the reactions to this alarming fact are rather weak. In fact, the recent EU strategy for plastics is apparently a reaction to China’s ban on importing plastics garbage, probably so that the country can deal with its own plastics crisis. Yet the EU’s strategy is too mild to put a stop to the massive pollution. Meanwhile, the USA is turning a blind eye to the problem and China continues to produce enormous quantities of waste. The rest of the world, save some countries, also continues to bury itself under plastics. Even in the few supermarkets in Luxembourg, France, Germany or Belgium that we went to, the amount of plastics used is quite mind-blowing, even though we must acknowledge that it is better than it used to be.

In a world where the dominant accepted economic model is based on infinite growth and insatiable human desires as its enabler, promoting the idea that ‘less is more’ runs against the current social and economic organization. The governments must grasp the tremendous size of the problem and enforce regulation that will put a stop to unneeded waste. Meanwhile, consumers have to understand how their purchases are contributing to this massive environmental and eventually human crisis. Hopefully, some type of new social organization can emerge from the various reflections and enable the human race to survive its own plight.

How a Melting Arctic Changes Everything – The Arctic is already 3.5C warmer than in 1990’s (rest of the world: +0.9C) and the thawing is attracting a lot of interest from bordering countries and rising powers. Land claims, fossil energy projects, military bases are blossoming, but the warm promises of the frozen sea have yet to overcome the ice cold Northern reality.

Brussels goes to war against plastic garbage – Following China’s ban on plastic garbage imports, the European Commission drafted a series of measures to reduce plastic pollution and protect the oceans. The laws still need to be voted, implemented, falls short of (urgently needed) radical change. The timeline is too long and the emphasis on recycling means non-essential plastics are here to stay. More here: EU Makes Limited Move on Plastics: Too Little, Too Late?

Can Uber Ever Deliver? Part Twelve: Brad Stone and Bloomberg Continue To Get the Uber Story Badly Wrong – Uber’s massive underlying problems are badly misreported on a Bloomberg article. Instead of discussing the operational, organizational and financial issues of the company, the reporter focuses on personalities in a propaganda piece that puts forward statements at odds with his own book published only a year ago.

Ex-C.I.A. Officer Suspected of Compromising Chinese Informants Is Arrested – The FBI finally arrested the mole that supplied the Chinese authorities with the identities of US agents in China, leading to a dozen of them being imprisoned and killed between 2010 and 2013, critically hampering CIA operations in the country. More background here: Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations. The latest article was from May 2017 and clearly identified the mole, which raises questions as to why Mr Lee came back to the USA knowing the FBI had its sight on him.

Trump’s surprise turnaround on North Korea – Trump’s change of attitude is pragmatic and allows the USA to get the high hand in the negotiations. The ball is now in North Korea’s camp and the country must act wisely to show its good willingness.

Picture of the week: Litter on Singapore’s East Coast Park

About Carlito Riego

"Great perfection may appear imperfect, but its usefulness is inexhaustible. Great abundance may appear empty, but its usefulness cannot be exhausted. Great correctness may appear twisted, great skills appear crude, great eloquence appear awkward. Activity conquers cold; inactivity conquers heat. Clear serenity governs the world." - Lao Zi