Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Chicago Tribune Interviews Weisman

Today's Trib has an interview with author Alan Weisman. An excerpt from the story:
Among those interesting facts:

- Humans use more than a third of the world's land surface for food production.

- In the ocean, north of Hawaii, there is a 1,000-mile-wide area containing 3 million tons of trash -- bottle caps, fish netting, six-pack rings, limp balloons, plastic bags and other detritus of human civilization -- that oceanographers have dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

- Over the past half-century, humans have produced 1 billion tons of plastic.

Virtually all of that plastic remains somewhere on the planet, and, even if humans disappeared tomorrow, it would stick around for a long, long time.

How long?

"No one knows," writes Weisman, "because no plastic has died a natural death yet. It took today's microbes ... a long time after plants appeared to learn to eat lignin and cellulose. More recently, they've even learned to eat oil. None can digest plastic yet, because 50 years is too short a time for evolution to develop the necessary biochemistry."

Provocative stuff, right?

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