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TTC Special. Danger: Avoid plastic

TTC Special. Danger: Avoid plastic

Photo: Richard Whitcombe/123rf

By Frank Martin

Climate change is a phenomenon that threatens the world tourism industry and the worst news is that it has allies, one of them the plastic.

Scientists have come to the conclusion that an object that seems harmless and useful as a plastic bag is linked to the climate change in a variety of ways.

From air quality to ocean toxicity, plastic bags contribute to eco-system disruption.

Studies that are advancing around the world indicate that habitat destruction, fossil fuel emissions, and plastic pollution are some of the ways that plastic bags and climate change cannot be separated.

An estimated 12 million barrels of oil are used to manufacture the 30 million plastic bags that, for example, Americans use each year.

That is equivalent to the amount of oil in our Strategic Oil Reserve. When used for bags, it is a wasteful and unnecessary way to deplete our oil supply and contribute to CO2 build-up in our atmosphere.

For the tourism industry that usually gets a lot of income from nature, especially from the sea, as is the case in the Caribbean, news about plastic can be frightening.

The buildup of plastic in the oceans is a greater cause of eco-system disruption.

About 100,000 marine animals die each year from suffocating on or ingesting bags. Plastic pollution and climate change are of breathtaking significance in terms of the billions/trillions of dollars people will increasingly be forced to pay toward their mitigation and repair.

Plastic pollution is the stepmother of all economic externalities.

Plastic manufacturing is estimated to use 8 percent of yearly global oil production. The EPA estimates as many as five ounces of carbon dioxide are emitted for each ounce of polyethylene (PET) produced—the type of plastic most commonly used for beverage bottles.

The bad news is that more disposable plastics are coming, in the parts of the world where they can do the most damage—newly industrialized countries with infrastructures that lag behind their population’s consumerism.

Scientists see evidence on the beaches of Manila Bay, the rivers of Bangladesh, the streets of Ghana and in the Caribbean.