The Plastic Apocalypse

Most people are aware that we have a plastic problem. They know we are filling the oceans with it. They know it is killing wildlife. They know the rest of the environment is suffering. They even know there are detrimental health effects. Yet, I think few people genuinely appreciate the injury that is being caused by plastic.

For example, testosterone levels are dropping in men by about one percent per year. That is a stunningly fast drop and it is linked to plastic. It is a very bad thing: https://myparla.com/decreasing-testosterone-levels/ .

Here is an alarming quote from the above article: “Seventy-year-old men in 1987–89 had an average testosterone level that was almost 100 points higher than even 55-year-old men in 2002–04. Meaning that the average 22 year old man today, has an average testosterone level roughly equal to that of a 67 year old man in 2000. Therefore, it’s likely that your testosterone levels are half of those of your father and undoubtedly significantly less than your grandfather.”

Sperm counts are dropping by about one percent per year. No sperm means no people. This is also linked to plastic: https://theconversation.com/male-fertility-is-declining-studies-show-that-environmental-toxins-could-be-a-reason-163795 .

A quote from the above article: “In the U.S., nearly 1 in 8 couples struggles with infertility.” Also, “2017 paper showing a 50% to 60% decline in sperm concentration between 1973 and 2011 in men from around the world.”

Fertility rates are declining, in most advanced countries they are below the replacement rate. It is asserted that economic trends and choice are the reason. But, low testosterone and sperm are very likely also the reason. Low fertility rates means an old moribund poor society is what we have to look forward too. Your fat 401K is meaningless if there are no workers to provide services. https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/2022/1/5/22867184/us-census-population-growth-slowdown-migration-birth-death

Combine the fact that plastic, quickly and obviously, is literally killing us off while also destroying the environment and you have a very good case for broad governmental efforts to ban plastic.

You can easily assert that the Plastic Apocalypse is the immediate existential threat the media generally ignores. We are now quite literally a dying society.

Some national and local governments are making small efforts to ban platics. Some are banning bags. Some are banning single use items. Some folks are even designing ships to suck out the plastic from the ocean. These are well intentioned efforts with value but they are also suboptimal and marginal. The optimal approach is to prevent the problem before it exists with very broad bans on plastic.

Since we want the plastic out of our bodies the best first efforts to control plastic are to get the plastic out of the food packaging.

First we should concentrate on drinks containers that contain plastic. Plastic drinks containers are very likely a huge source of ingested plastic and also easy to replace with alternatives. There are two easy ways to delete them from the food supply. The FDA could simply ban all plastic bottles that hold liquids that are consumed. Alternatively, the government could impose a national tax of 100% on all plastic containing drinks containers — levied at both wholesale and retail. Each alternative could have a three year phase in period to allow the glass and paper plants to spin up.

Second, we should concentrate on other food in plastic containers. Same measures could be used as above.

Once the obvious plastic has been removed from the food supply, we can assess the effect of that removal and target the remaining plastics that are an issue.

The chemical manufacturers fight such measures and they do so effectively because they are well funded. The result is that it is difficult and take concerted effort to get measures such as above passed. The metal, glass, paper and wood industries stand to benefit from plastic bans and they should lobby for plastic bans.

Given the obvious scientific evidence that we have for the effect of plastic on human health, it is fair to say that the USA government has already dropped the ball and failed to do its job. We have to hope that current and future governments will not also fail in the same way.

Governments will eventually do their job. The hope is they do their job before 22 year old men have the testosterone levels of 100 year old women in 1950, nobody can conceive and a host of strange diseases become prevalent.

Here is a good link from the Geneva Environment Network with many links about the injurious effects of plastic. You can easily find more on your own: https://www.genevaenvironmentnetwork.org/resources/updates/plastics-and-the-environment/ .

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store