The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Our True Legacy: Plastic

Would you like some plastic with your salt?

Sea salt around the world has been contaminated by plastic pollution, adding to experts’ fears that microplastics are becoming ubiquitous in the environment and finding their way into the food chain via the salt in our diets.

Following this week’s revelations in the Guardian about levels of plastic contamination in tap water, new studies have shown that tiny particles have been found in sea salt in the UK, France and Spain, as well as China and now the US.

Right, and your water.

The core argument for capitalism is that it allocates resources better than any other system.

The problem is that it allocates resources catastrophically. Not only did it diligently allocate resources to causing climate change which will kill in excess of a billion people, it has caused environmental catastrophe after catastrophe.

(Speaking of money, I am fundraising to determine how much I’ll write this year. If you value my writing, and want more of it, please consider donating.)

There are lot of things we know we should just do. And banning virtually all plastic is something we’ve known we should do for decades, along with anything else mass produced which doesn’t bio-degrade.

The problem with our society is we just don’t do the dead obvious things that need to be done to preserve the lives of our children and grandchildren. (And soon, our own lives.)

It’s that simple and that damning.

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The Control and Continuation of Capitalist Societies


The Role of Character and Ideology in Prosperity


  1. V. Arnold

    The view from the Hermitage is bleak indeed.
    The simple fact is this; the solutions are out there; but a government (of Oligarchs), causing the problems and getting rich from the results, will not encourage solutions. It will instead launch a propaganda campaign to discredit known facts and sow doubt to those so cogently crippled, they are incapable of the critical thinking skills, to see through the fog of bullshit and find the facts. We live in a fact deprived society and are discouraged from finding the truth; which has always been a relative entity at best…
    Find your inner autodidact…

  2. Perhaps in a million years as we have with fossil fuels the cockroaches will figure out how to mine and refine plastics and bring about their own fossil fueled demise.

    I’ve been fascinated with this since the turn of the century (pig era). Plastics just don’t go away, they are pollution that will deteriorate down to the molecular level and remain thus best guess forever. Some plastics won’t even deteriorate. ABS pipe, household sewer pipe, a molymer, not unlike an car tire a single man-made molecule, is thought to retain its form a million years.

    Our mark is not just a deteriorating atmosphere.

  3. nihil obstet

    The prophecies from our youths:

  4. Dean Flemming

    V.Arnold: We have met the enemy and he is us. There is no need to blame oligarchs. I work with university educated teachers who pride themselves on their “critical thinking” and social progressiveness, yet not one of them does anything practical in their daily life to sacrifice anything to accommodate the environment, such as saving electricity or even paper or forgoing the use of plastic disposable stuff. Businesses sell to willing customers, and those are everywhere.

  5. Peter

    This pollution is a large problem that can’t be blamed on capitalism in the west because the US and Europe have modern waste management systems. Raving about the nonexistent plastic pollution problems in our society and demanding useless banning of plastics just shows some peoples beliefs are detached from reality.

    Asia is the major source for the plastic clogging our oceans, mostly the north Pacific. The Yangtze and the Ganges are the main sources of this trash along with other rivers in Indonesia and many smaller rivers. These countries don’t accidentally spill this trash they intentionally dump it into these rivers as a cheap waste management scheme.

    Before China spreads rapid development, the generator of this pollution, with their new Silk Road they should address the pollution at home otherwise they will find new rivers to fill with plastic trash.

  6. Duncan Kinder

    While plastic made from petrochemicals is not bio-degradable, you can also make plastic from hemp, which is.

    Currently hemp-made plastic is significantly more expensive than biochemical made plastic, and industrial hemp is illegal. Whether these costs could be brought down is a R&D question.

    While Trump is unlikely either to legalize hemp or conduct such R&D, there are 140-odd other governments out there, any of which could do so instead.

  7. Peter


    Growing hemp is legal under state and federal guidelines in states with medical pot programs. A Colorado farmer was the first to plant a large crop to harvest seed for the already large hemp snack-food market. This is where the profit is produced from hemp growing not from fiber or other uses. Until this crop was harvested all our edible hemp seed came from Canada and China.

    It may be possible to produce some type of plastic with hemp but to replace plastic produced from oil with hemp would probably require planting most of our agricultural land in hemp.

  8. different clue

    There are low-drug varieties of hemp which have been bred and selected over the millenia for fiber and for edible seed. The current War On Marijuana makes getting exemptions for growing these low-drug/no-drug food and fiber hemps very difficult.

    If we can win the war on the War On Marijuana, we can repeal and abolish all laws ever passed against marijuana, withdraw from all UN Treaties against “illegal drugs”, etc. . . . and go back to the status quo ante . . . which was total de facto legalness for all expressions of cannabis in all its forms.

    Then hemp-for-compostable-plastic will become legally possible and feasible.

    Meanwhile, it would be nice to see comparative readouts on how much disposable plastic each country has disposed of until now, and how much each country disposes of per year from now going forward. It would be nice to really KNOW what the relative contributions of each country to plastic emissions is.

    One thing I DO know . . . International Co-operation will NEVER address this. Never Ever. International Co-operation is where good intentions go to die. What would address this? Hyper-militant hyper-belligerent Protectionism. If America repudiated every Free Trade Agreement and abrogated every Free Trade Treaty and repealed every Free Trade Law, then America would be able to ban disposable plastic within the borders of America . . . and ban all trace of economic contact with every country which fails to impose the same exact ban.

    But first we would have to Protectionize ourselves against countries which lower their competitive costs by emitting all the plastic pollution they please.

  9. Synoia

    There are lot of things we know we should just do. And banning virtually all plastic is something we’ve known we should do for decades, along with anything else mass produces which doesn’t bio-degrade.

    But, but, but that would require Government to pick winners and losers, or even tell what I can doooo….!!!!

  10. EverythingsJake

    One hopes he’s wrong, but…

    George Carlin on Plastic

  11. Been making plastic out of corn oil for a hundred years. It’s called margarine.

  12. For the sake of posterity, please exclude phonograph records and certain electronic appliances.

  13. Julie

    Interesting… don’t you think you should be considerate and read what I wanted you to read????!!!!

  14. Peter


    They will have to pry my LP’s from my cold dead hands. We are witnessing the beginning of a deadly new era where super tiny filaments of dryer lint in drinking water may compete with climate Warmers to kill the first billion helpless humans.

    Be afraid be very afraid and follow the manic sages who demand we stop using the petrochemicals that we depend on for everything from aspirin to roofing tar.

  15. different clue

    Here is a short little video I just saw on the Reddit, entitled ” A River Of Plastic Waste In Guatemala.”

    So yes, if people who are seriously poor by any measure can afford to let all this plastic run down a river; plastic isn’t priced nearly highly enough to say the very least.

    If we can’t do a ban on frivolous plastic, we can perhaps make plastic so expensive that it genuinely hurts to throw any away.

  16. different clue

    Here is a little photo I just now saw on Reddit. A bunch of plastic floating off the coast of Honduras.

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