We are heading to a crossroads where the planet is posing multifarious threats. Some are natural and man-made, but both are being deteriorated by human interactions. At the same time, it intensifies our suffering and complicates our lives, seemingly in a competitive mode.
"According to an Ipsos poll, three in four people want single-use plastics banned,"
Climate change, wars, and humanitarian crises are interlinked with one another and are engulfing the whole planet radically. Climate change forces our civilization and existence towards extinction. Now not only human beings but also all the species are threatened to survive.
Climate change is exacerbating due to multidimensional factors or events. Plastic is one of the biggest culprits among those. Nonetheless, a lack of proper waste management like recycling, reusing, and refiling intensifies this devastation. Random plastic usage in our daily lives undoubtedly doubles this crisis.
Throughout the life span of plastics, from manufacturing to end, plastics cause harm to the environment and, even though burning, worsen the air quality.
Particularly, single-use plastics are gradually choking our environment, barring the flow of air and remaining like a perpetual curtain in the soil for a longer time. It creates a toxic impact on soil health by trailing fertility and productivity and making agriculture deadly. The climate crisis badly slows down crop yields and causes internal migration, losing people's livelihoods.
Plastics are an evolving threat, the worst factor in fueling environmental degradation and furthering the climate crisis worldwide. Third-world countries like Bangladesh are the toughest victims of plastic. Still, we choose polythene bags for shopping as a smart way, damn care, of its far-reaching effects on our environment.
Most rural people are not cautious of the dreadful effects of using plastics since they continue to use them indiscriminately. They throw it here and there just after use. We have little time to think over the matter-where these huge plastic bags and bottles are destined at the end.
Where is no plastic! Gradually, plastic encompasses the entire atmosphere, reaching from the bottom of the ocean to the highest peak in the mountains. Small plastic particles and microplastics have been detected in human blood, the womb of the mother, the food chain, and drinking water-in a word, everywhere-and exacerbate public health. In fact, we are diving into the ocean of plastic. Marine and coastal species are facing a grave risk. Plastic pollution has turned into an epidemic. Particularly, single-use plastics are a menace globally.
The vehement incident that left four people dead due to waterlogging resulting from heavy rainfall happened last September in Mirpur, Dhaka. That still stirs our consciences.
Most of the water logging lasts longer, submerges the roads, and blocks the sewerage system and water pipelines for these plastics. Plastics expose us to a crucial reality by triggering multi-dimensional threats.Plastic harms human health, potentially affecting fertility, and hormonal and originating metabolic and neurological dysfunction and burning plastics trigger global warming.
Follow up on the Plastic Treaty 2022, Nairobi, Kenya: In March 2022, a historical event took place in the chair of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), with the representation of more than 173 countries in Nairobi, Kenya. Meaningful and plausible decisions were made on this global platform to shift away from single-use plastics and to cap plastic pollution.
Following the meeting, a report was published on March 2, 2022, emphasising the realities, some shocking predictions, and endeavours around plastic pollution. I would like to outline a few points from the meeting to evaluate how much we have achieved while at the same time underscoring the severity of plastic pollution.
"Scientists have predicted that by 2050, greenhouse gas emissions associated with plastic production, use, and disposal would account for 15 percent of allowed emissions, with the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5�C (34.7�F)."
In addition, more than 800 marine and coastal species are affected by this pollution through ingestion and entanglement. According to the UNEP, "some 11 million metric tonnes of plastic waste flow annually into oceans. This may triple by 2040."
Overcome measures: According to the UNEP, "approximately 7 billion of the estimated 9.2 billion metric tonnes of plastic produced between 1950 and 2017 are now waste. About 75% of that waste is either deposited in landfills or accumulating in terrestrial and aquatic environments and ecosystems."
The scientific body advised exploring a dedicated global fund for plastic waste management with financial and technical assistance.
Now it's time to reflect on the past and envision the future. If we are unable to beat the surge of plastics stemming from the situation, climate change will persist, causing havoc and biodiversity loss.
Bangladesh is acutely vulnerable and has already experienced scorching heat in recent summers. This plastic pollution, which is collapsing biodiversity, is rapidly destroying sensitive ecosystems and mangrove forests in the Sundarbans.
Recommendations: NGOs and INGOs are urged to fund more projects on components of climate change and waste management. Ensure climate change is an integral part of any project from project design and planning to the end. Encourage us to lead an eco-friendly lifestyle from morning to dusk at every stage of our lives. More content may be incorporated into the textbooks from primary to secondary levels. Compulsory to telecast short environmental awareness audio and video on TV media and posters with photos and messages in public space Strengthen the existing legal framework and ensure the enforcement-related monitoring measures are being implemented properly. Enact stern action against manufacturing, producing, distributing, and marketing all single-use plastics and products. Ensure all companies contribute a significant amount of funds for waste management (plastics). Plastic waste, which is not recyclable, can be burned in cement kilns. Shifting to a circular economy can reduce the huge number of plastics in the ocean.
We have overcome this crucial issue to rebuild the post-COVID world, a resilient future, and a safe and livable planet, and consider the burning issue a priority.
The writer is a Humanitarian Worker and Climate Activist
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