Monday, May 22, 2017

A Deserted Island & 38 Million Visitors

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Many of us became aware of a tiny island in the South Pacific ocean we would never have heard about if it weren't for a human-made obscenity. There are no people living on Henderson Island, a coral atoll, because it is so remote Yet marine scientists have declared Henderson to have the highest density of anthropogenic debris recorded anywhere in the world, with 99.8% of the pollution plastic.

The nearly 18 tonnes of plastic piling up on an island that is otherwise mostly untouched by humans are a 3-D parable of the catastrophic extent of marine plastic pollution. That is about 35,000 pounds, for those of you who are still imperial dinosaurs. Somehow the scientists have come up with the figure of 38 million pieces in total. Crabs now make their homes in this junk, 
One of many hundreds of crabs that now make their homes out of plastic debris washed up on Henderson Island in the Pitcairn island group. This particular item is an Avon cosmetics jar.
There is plastic everywhere in the world it seems and, even a remote chunk of coral in the largest ocean on the planet is covered in this garbage. We're told that by 2050 plastic will outweigh fish in our depleted oceans and that fish samples reveal micro-plastics, including the beads in our body wash and other products. We are drowning in the stuff, which has only been around since 1907. The use of plastics really picked up steam after WWII and now it's difficult to buy anything that isn't made of it or wrapped in it -- sometimes several times.

In scripture we are described as clay molded by the hands of the Divine Potter. No injected polyurethane or polystyrene in the bible. I wonder if we need a theology of plastic, or to develop liturgies repenting of our addiction to it. If we really do care for the world God created we must figure out a way toward simplicity and alternatives to our destructive practices.


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