Climate change and our use of plastic

Recently the Met Office warned that remarkable temperatures across the UK are due to last until at least late August and that Britain is on course for its hottest summer since the early 1600s. This is part of a trend.

Written by Martin Betts

Extreme weather is on the rise, with the UK hotter and wetter than it has been for decades. Figures from the Met Office show that 2017 was the fifth hottest year on record and nine of the 10 hottest years over the past century have taken place since 2002.

The last decade has seen average temperature increasing 0.8% and rainfall up 20% compared to the 30-year period ending in 1990. The Met Office have said ‘Our climate is changing, globally and here in the UK’.

As we have enjoyed, or endured, the heatwave a House of Commons report called for action to deal with the UK’s rising temperatures. Mary Creagh, Labour chair of the Environmental Audit Committee said that climate change ‘will have profound impacts on everyone’.

Her Committee warned that heat related deaths were likely to triple by the middle of the century unless the government acts urgently. Ms Creagh went on to say ‘We need to take steps now to help our children cope… in a world that is warmer by 1.5C’.

Although there are many factors that contribute to climate change recent research has pointed out the significance of plastic food packaging which emit greenhouse gases when the packaging breaks down.

Greenhouse gases directly influence climate change of the type we have been experiencing and affect sea levels, global temperatures and trigger storms which increase flooding drought and erosion.

Worryingly the production of plastics is set to double over the next 20 years. The University of Hawaii has said that the harmful gases they produce is expected to increase as more plastic is produced and accumulated in the environment.

Eight million metric tons of plastic waste enter the oceans each year, and it is estimated that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the ocean will weigh more than all the fish. Plastic ends up polluting the land, and is found inside animals and humans. There is no doubt it is harmful.

So what can we do about this? On a personal level we can begin to change the way we live. We can reduce our use of plastic bags still further and avoid buying products – particularly food products – packed in excessive single use plastic.

We can stop buying plastic bottles of water. Across the world we buy an estimated million plastic bottle of water per minute, and most of this plastic is not recycled. They take 400 years to decompose. We can bottle our own water, and buy coffee in our own mugs!

These are small steps, but they are a beginning and increase awareness of the dangers of plastic. We can also put pressure on private companies and our elected representatives to reduce its use and the massive harm plastic is causing us now and for future generations.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply