Plastic Ban in Great Britain, Neoliberalism in Climate Change and the current situation in Arctic Siberia

Weekly News Roundup

Featuring this weekly news roundup are a surprising plastic ban in Great Britain, an analysis on neoliberalism’s impact on our reaction to climate change and the fragile current situation in Arctic Siberia.

Microbeads Ban: Government to Outlaw Microplastics in Cosmetic Products

With 128.3K shares this great news coming from Great Britain managed to overflow the world’s past seven-day buzz.

Let us remember that although this effective man-made material has provided us with indisputable benefits since its mass production started in the 1940s; it has also done significant and possibly irreversible damage to not only wildlife, habitats and ecosystems but to human beings themselves. According to a study on the impact of plastic on human health carried out in 2009 “components used in plastics such as phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) and tetrabromobisphenol A (TBBPA)” (Talsness, C.E. et al, 2009) have already been found in humans. These four components are known as endocrine-disruptive compounds (EDCs); owing their name to the capacity they have of disrupting the endocrine system in addition to playing a role in the development of cancer.

Despite the alarming knowledge in relation to this global leading material, we have somehow made it something totally indispensable in our lives; to the absurd point of even including it in exfoliating scrubs, shower gels and toothpaste.

Counter actions such as the banning, taxation or charges surrounding plastic bags have been carried out for years in countries such as China, Brazil, Tunisia, Denmark, Belgium, amongst others. But given the outrageous presence of plastic in our world today, global society still lacks a definite and meaningful response to this serious issue.

India recently introduced a ban on disposable plastic in the area of New Dehli on January of 2017. France’s move on prohibiting plastic cups, plates and cutlery in 2016 also helped build up more of a momentum with respect to bringing about solutions to this problem.

Yet, contemporary regulations are not always welcomed without hindrances. The cosmetic industry announced its dissatisfaction concerning calls for having to remove plastic particles from “leave-on” products as well, claiming that the expenses for reformulating 90% of their products are too high.

Our role as global citizens is to raise our voices to support laws that aim at the welfare of our collective society and planet, by applauding them and demanding similar regulations in our own country. There is still a lot to do when it comes to tackling the plastic problem in the U.S. Biodegradable and compostable alternatives to conventional plastics are available out there and present a great opportunity to overcome this challenge.

If you are also motivated enough to start triggering positive impact today, check out and apply independent cutting-edge movements such as Zero Waste and Minimalism in your own life. Likewise, be conscious when buying products you need. Every dollar you pay is a vote, so give your votes away wisely.

All there is to know is that humanity lived thousands of years without plastic. If we could do it back then, we can definitely do it again.

Neoliberalism Has Conned Us into Fighting Climate Change as Individuals

Martin Lukacs has recently written a critical article for The Guardian that has yield a total of 86.2K shares, on how neoliberalism in the West has caused us to erase unified social action out of our agendas. Even now at a time in which a severe threat such as climate change frantically demands collective social action from us, we still seem to be floating around like isolated atoms in the midst of an infinite empty space.

To refresh our memories, neoliberalism is “a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector” (Investopedia, 2017). This theoretical model suggests that governments should limit subsidies, protectionism, open markets to trade, etc. Economically speaking, regulations under this particular system must be eliminated, giving complete freedom when it comes to what enterprises and actors can do.

As expected however, the application of an academic model into real life never yields the expected results and by no means comes to be enforced over a clean objective slate. Vested interests and power struggles come into play in real life and years later a supposedly “neoliberalism” ends up looking a bit more like a mix of mercantilism, in which protectionism from the government towards some economic practices prevails; with some twisted corporate-totalitarianism, in which massive corporations seek having control over society; plus just some percentage of neoliberalism, of course that is exclusively the elements of this system that happen to feed the big players’ plans of profit and power.

In other words, the neoliberalism that the U.S. is putting into practice is somewhat distorted to a large extent.

Luckacs highlights how the application of this system has led to a “celebration of competitive self-interest and hyper-individualism, and the stigmatization of compassion and solidarity” (Lukacs, M., 2017) tearing apart our collective bonds. He incites us to fight climate change via cooperative leadership and politics rather than just by ourselves.

We have to remember that although climate change can be at times a topic that tends to give Goosebumps to many of us, it also has its bright side; a side that brings us back together to fight against a real common rival.

All Hell Breaks Loose as the Tundra Thaws

An 80°F heat wave, colossal explosions, dormant spores of the extremely infectious anthrax bacteria broken lose and the blowout of methane gas succeeding a melting of permafrost. This chain of unfortunate occurrences has invaded the Yamal Peninsula of northwest Siberia, Russia throughout the past month. Raising the uncertainty encircling climate variability and consequences related to rising temperatures that we have been witnessing over the course of past years.

What is the forecast for years to come?

A map diffused by The Medical Society Consortium on Climate and Health showed how our health is to be affected by climate change with impacts varying by geographic region. From an increasing rate of infectious diseases to respiratory problems due to an increment in number and intensity of wildfires; and from heat strokes to ugly viruses. These are some of the threats facing U.S. territory.

Another worry surrounding the events in Siberia is methane. Methane is a flammable gas “formed by the decomposition of vegetable matter, in marshes and mines, or produced artificially by heating carbon monoxide and hydrogen” (YourDictionary, 2017). It makes up for a mighty greenhouse gas that is 20 times more powerful than carbon dioxide. A release of this gas in the Arctic can prompt serious ramifications, like speeding the melting of the sea ice as well as climate change.

Even though this type of news is naturally discouraging, let’s take it as a call of action rather than as a detonator of fear and despair. While the government and corporations stand with crossed arms guarding their bank accounts and private jets, we can all march together towards a brighter future. Both individual and collective actions will make us reach our destination faster, so do what’s in your hands.

Other important stories

Sources

Chestney, N. “Arctic Methane Release Could Cost Economy &60 Trillion” (2017) Climate Change. The Guardian, July 2013. Web. 23 July 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/arctic-methane-release-could-cost-60t/

Buzzsumo “Environment” Most Shared. Buzzsumo: Content Research, July 2017. Web. 23 July 2017.

GoumBook “Plastic Bags Charges, Taxes and Bans – List by Countries” (2017) Go Green: Recycling Facts. GoumBook: Your Green Connection, 4 June 2017. Web. 23 July 2017. http://goumbook.com/plastic-bags-charges-taxes-bans-list-countries/

Investopedia “Neoliberalism” (2017) Terms. Investopedia. Web. 23 July 2017. http://www.investopedia.com/terms/n/neoliberalism.asp

Johnston, I. “India Just Banned All Forms of Disposable Plastic in its Capital” (2017) Asia. Independent, 25 January 2017. Web. 23 July 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/india-delhi-bans-disposable-plastic-single-use-a7545541.html

Johnston, I. “Microbeads ban: Government to outlaw microplastics in cosmetic products” (2017) Environment. Independent, 21 July 2017. Web. 23 July 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/microbeads-ban-bill-uk-cosmetic-products-government-outlaws-microplastics-a7852346.html

Kahn, S. “France bans plastic cups, plates and cutlery” (2016) Europe. Independent, 17 September 2016. Web. 23 July 2017. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/france-bans-plastic-cups-plates-cutlery-energy-transition-for-green-growth-a7313076.html

Knoblauch, J.A. “The Environmental Toll of Plastics” (2009) Toxification. Environmental Health News, 2 July 2009. Web. 23 July 2017. http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/dangers-of-plastic

Lukacs, M. “Neoliberalism Has Conned Us Into Fighting Climate Change as Individuals” (2017) Climate Change. The Guardian, 17 July 2017. Web. 23 July 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/true-north/2017/jul/17/neoliberalism-has-conned-us-into-fighting-climate-change-as-individuals

Plester, J. “Al Hell Breaks Loose as Tundra Thaws” (2017) Climate Change. The Guardian, 20 July 2017. Web. 23 July 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jul/20/hell-breaks-loose-tundra-thaws-weatherwatch

Song, J.H. et al “Biodegradable and compostable alternatives to conventional plastics” (2009) Content: Article. The Royal Society Publishing, 14 June 2009. Web. 23 July 2017. http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1526/2127

Talsness, C.E. et al “Components of Plastic: Experimental studies in animals and relevance for human health” (2009) Content: Article. The Royal Society Publishing, 14 June 2009. Web. 23 July 2017. http://rstb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/364/1526/2079

YourDictionary “Methane” (2017) Dictionary definitions. Your Dictionary. Web. 23 July 2017. http://www.yourdictionary.com/methane