By now we know that burning fossil fuel is affecting the atmosphere of the planet, with dire results of global warming and human death and dislocation. But we are only starting to know how deeply plastics and oil are intertwined in compromising our health and future.
Plastics are byproducts of fossil fuels, and pervasive in the environment. Now plastic fibers have been documented in drinking water all over the world. The U.S. has the highest contamination rate, with 94 percent of samples containing plastic (The Guardian, 15-22 September, 2017, theguardian.com/environment/2017/sep/06/plastic-fibres-found-tap-water-around-world-study-reveals). Sampling sites in the U.S. included EPA Headquarters, congressional buildings, and Trump Tower in New York.
Public health officials are raising an alarm. We don’t yet know the health effects that occur in humans, but studies of marine animals suggest that hormone systems are interrupted as well as other behavioral, developmental, and infectious consequences.
Just when we vitally need to cope with plastic pollution, the fracking boom in the U.S. has created an investment boom in plastics. A massive buildout of plastics infrastructure in this country and beyond is taking place, with $164 billion planned in the United States alone.
Combatting climate change and reducing dangerous plastic pollution require understanding this intimate relationship between two giant arms of the fossil fuel industry. For more information see ciel.org/news/fueling-plastics.
It’s hard work being a responsible citizen these days, in Door County as elsewhere – but caring for our families and our country requires us to learn all we can. Then, we have a chance to hold accountable our paid employees: legislators at every level. This is not a time to reduce environmental protections. We urgently need to strengthen them.
Egg Harbor, Wis.