The Ocean Dumping Dilemma

Upon reflecting on our blogs and the texts that we have studied, we each took a topic to present to the class. These included Ecofeminism, Ocean Plastics, Oil Narratives and Animals Agriculture and Climate Change. A recurring theme throughout all of these presentations was the idea of transference, and a slow build-up leading to disastrous effects.

Within my Ocean Plastics presentation, I looked at the consequences of continued and increasing plastic pollution within the ocean. The biggest concern and reality is the process of plastic slowly degrading into micro-plastic. This tiny substance is then ingested by ocean animals, meaning that it will enter our food chain and be nearly impossible to remove. As a form of slow violence, the increase of plastic waste  in the ocean will both cause and mirror the build-up and sedimentation of plastic in the body.

The build-up and sedimentation of plastic in the ocean is discussed in an article called ‘The Ocean Dumping Dilemma’, by Stuart Weinsten-Bascal. He states that “our planet cannot indefinitely absorb the insults of man-made change” and any forthcoming damage may be irreversible.’ His powerful use of the word ‘insults’ explicitly describes the destruction we are causing to the Earth. We have been given all the resources we need to live and thrive, yet we are abusing these resources and taking advantage of what we have. He is also suggesting that the ocean as a solution to not dealing with our waste, will no longer be an option, with devastating affects to follow.

The ocean is typically seen as a cleansing substance, which may suggest why people feel that waste in the ocean will ‘disappear’ or sort itself out, due to the fact we cannot see it. This matter of what is hidden and what is seen is a huge problem in the way we treat pollution and how it can be solved. Emmi Itäranta touches on this in her novel Memory of Water, through the depiction of ‘plastic graves’ in the village that Noria lives in. Describing the plastic as a ‘grave’ suggests that it should be underground, however, they are found on land in an accessible place, becoming part of the landscape. By putting the waste of those from the Twilight Century in sight, it comments on the way society today conceals its waste from the public. When things are hidden, the scale and enormity of the problem is lessened because no one is able to physically see the impact we are making on the planet.

Pollution and masses of waste exist everywhere, even if we’re unable to see it. And not being able to see the problems that we are creating, does not mean we can’t act in order to change them.

 

Pollution Solution: Help out at any beach or area clean-ups locally to you. If you ever see rubbish on the floor outside, put it in a bin or take it home to recycle.

 

Sources

Itäranta, Emmi, Memory of Water, (New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2015)

Weinstein-Bascal, Stuart, ‘The Ocean Dumping Dilemma’ Lawyer of Americans, Vol. 10, No. 3 (1978) pp. 873-876.

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