Who Will See it?

March 6, 2018

 

A piece of plastic on the beach Kanaanbadet.

My nearest beach is by the lake Mälaren. It has as many microplastics per cubic meter as the Baltic Sea or the Atlantic: 28. They come into the water of Mälaren via sewage plants, as particles from beauty products or washed clothes. Counting all plastic waste in Sweden’s waters, 70% sinks to the bottom of the sea, 15% floats up onto beaches, and 15% drifts. The fish of Mälaren eat it, and the birds do too. They could be either poisoned, or starved, or choked by it. One could also speak of the impact the plastic waste has on humans, like we don’t like the look of trash on our beaches, or that it gets caught in fishing nets. But it sounds ridiculous – compared to other species that are physically harmed. Had the people of Mälaren been physically harmed, would the plastic waste stop? Would my beach be free of plastic? It seems like it is sometimes hard to visualize a different way of life than the image we have of what it is now.

Discussing geological time could perhaps give a new perspective. It is counted not in minutes or hours or weeks, but in epochs, eras, and periods. The anthropocene as a term is specifically interesting as we are talking about the future, and not the past. We are predicting, but also looking at it as we anticipate a geologist from the future would look at it. What do we want to see in the strata, looking back at this point in time? And – who will be there to see it?

 

Kajsa Larsson

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