The Malta Independent 20 January 2019, Sunday

A sacrificed civilisation

Camilla Appelgren Tuesday, 8 January 2019, 09:48 Last update: about 12 days ago

Every year, about 18 billion pounds of plastic waste enters the ocean around the world from the regions with coastal areas. This is causing severe damage and people are slowly waking up after being spoon fed a flood of videos and photos on their social media platforms of choking marine life. The question is, are we waking up fast enough? Why are we taking our time when the environment is dying in front of us? What is needed for people to realise that every day we wait for someone else to solve this, is one day closer to a need for forced extreme actions for survival. It’s like instead of taking a decision to evacuate a house on fire, we are running around with tiny buckets of water trying to control it not to wake the trapped people up. Even if it means that in the long run, no one will survive.

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When will the politicians take bold decisions as united for the environment? The words of the young activist Greta Thunberg echoes in my mind:

“...you are too scared of being unpopular. You only talk about moving forward with the same bad ideas that got us into this mess, even when the only sensible thing to do is pull the emergency brake. You are not mature enough to tell it like is. Even that burden you leave to us children. But I don’t care about being popular. I care about climate justice and the living planet. Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money”

The emergency brake. Are we planning to pull it before or after the crash? In any other situation, a human being would pull the emergency brake the same second they realise that something bad is about to happen. Why not now?

The other day I had a conversation with a person who tried to defend balloon releases, I’ve had the same discussion with some of the top people of this country. The reasoning is that by us limiting things that humans use in their daily lives, it means that we are being party poopers. Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Not limiting individual’s access to things which harm our shared environment should be seen as being party poopers.

This is the big struggle for environmentalists, to make people have a look outside their comfort zone. When people join my cleanups for the first time they always tell me that it is a real eye opener, that they never thought it was so bad. They become even more shocked when they learn that their daily over-consumption is partly causing the marine debris they just picked up, no matter how much the recycle.

To battle the environmental issues we need to tackle the ignorance by educating about the ‘why’ behind actions. The youth is very knowledgeable, the bigger issue is the older overall not so aware generation. The other threat is that our leaders seem to think that they are on top of this when they are just scratching the surface. Just like Greta said, we are letting the money making businesses set the agenda. The wellbeing of our planet should always have a priority, so that the future generation will be able to live a fulfilled life. Who are we to deny them of this right?

The European Parliament voted back in October to approve a bill to fight single-use plastic in the member states. It passed with 571-53. This was a step forward, but what about those 53? Do we actually have 53 politicians at the top not understanding the threat of single-use plastic? Do they live in the same universe as I do?

The bill is proposing the following to be on the list of banned items: Plastic cutleries and plates, cotton buds, drink stirrers and balloon sticks.

Balloon sticks? So the actual balloon is not considered a bigger issue? How come they instead didn’t go for a total ban on balloon releases and helium balloons? Millions of balloons are released yearly and go straight for the sea and choke our marine life due to the burst balloon looking like a damn jellyfish waiting to be eaten. But no, they banned the balloon stick, because that my dear reader is a less powerful industry than the balloon industry.

I might not be popular by saying it and I don’t care. I refuse to leave the burden of a screwed up environment to our children for the sake of some seconds of fun.

We risk being the generation that screwed it all up for the sake of money, although we had all we needed to save the environment. We decide where to go from here.

 

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