AN international alliance formed to fight plastic waste around the world came out his week with a statement that should cause a great deal of concern among us Filipinos.
The Alliance to End Plastic Waste (AEPW) said about 90 percent of global marine litter comes from just ten rivers and over half the land-based plastic litter leaking into oceans originates from five Asian countries – China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
The alliance was formed by 28 founding companies last Wednesday – among them Proctor & Gamble, Kraft, Nestle, Unilever, and Henkel – which pledged to spend $1.5 billion over the next five years on waste collection infrastructure, developing technology for recycling and re-use of waste, educating governments and local communities, and cleaning up highly polluted areas.
The news of the organization of the alliance was followed the next day, Thursday, by another report which also reflected the growing world concern over the environment – the publication of a landmark study in The Lancet of London, one of the world’s oldest, most prestigious, and best known general medical journals.
The Lancet carried a 50-page study that said nearly a billion people today are hungry and another two billion are eating too much of the wrong foods – too much red meat and too much sugar – that are causing epidemics of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
This is the food produced by the world’s agriculture which, at the same time, is the single largest emitter of greenhouse gases, the biggest single cause of biodiversity loss, and the main cause of algae blooms along coasts and inland waterways around the world. Cattle produce massive quantities of the greenhouse gas methane, while forests which help to absorb carbon and produce oxygen, are cut down to make room for cattle ranches.
“We can no longer feed our population a healthy diet while balancing planetary resources,” said The Lancet editor-in-chief Richard Horton. “For the first time in 200,000 years of human history, we are severely out of sync with the planet.”
This same week in the United States, the US journal science published findings that the world’s oceans are warming more rapidly than earlier thought. It said excess heat from the burning of fossil fuels – coal, natural gas, oil and its derivatives gasoline and diesel – surrounds the planet Earth and about 93 percent of the heat accumulates in the world’s oceans, causing water to expand and sea levels to rise. The hotter oceans are also blamed for the increasingly violent typhoons and hurricanes now hitting many countries, including ours.
We in the Philippines are becoming more and more aware of our environment, especially with regards to the pollution that is destroying our natural resources and the beauty of our islands. After we cleaned up Boracay, we are now moving to clean up Manila Bay after a century of neglect.
We should now begin looking into other areas other than pollution through sewage. Certainly, we must start to do something about the finding that the Philippines is the world’s third biggest source of plastic wastes that are steadily filling the world’s oceans, threatening ocean wildlife and ultimately human life.