Other species will sur­vive our self-de­struc­tion

The Guardian Weekly - - Opinion -

I re­fer to The turn of the tide (23 Novem­ber) and the photo of four per­sons on a tiny boat at the Sisyphean task of rid­ding the oceans of plas­tic.

“Hope­fully not an­other plas­tic one!” the cynic in me ejac­u­lated on read­ing the cap­tion: “You’re go­ing to need a big­ger boat.”

Fi­nally it is dawn­ing on us that re­cy­cling is not the panacea we had been led to em­brace, but yet an­other ex­pen­sive self­ind­ul­gence. It will never achieve what rein­ing in our self­ish con­sumerism would. As the ar­ti­cle points out, do­ing away with plas­tic straws, small a step as it is, amounts to a sig­nif­i­cant mile­stone on our road out of limbo.

Re­gard­ing Jonathan Franzen (Small Vic­to­ries) urg­ing us to find mean­ing in life as we face our self­in­flicted ex­is­ten­tial threat, not all is lost. The world is not com­ing to end. Our well-earned ex­tinc­tion will come as a re­lief to those species that may man­age to sur­vive our breath­tak­ing de­prav­ity. Miguel Cabezas Glen­brook, NSW, Aus­tralia

• Most threat­ened species are so be­cause we ei­ther hunt them to ex­tinc­tion or de­stroy their habi­tat. Killer whales are dif­fer­ent be­cause we com­pete for the same food source (23 Novem­ber). The whales have few nat­u­ral en­e­mies so food sup­ply reg­u­lates their num­bers. In turn, their role is to keep the salmon in check. A del­i­cate equi­lib­rium – but don’t worry: hu­mans are ea­ger to re­place the whales. Martin Skogs­beck Mou­g­ins, France

Stephen Bu­ranyi’s su­perb es­say on the plas­tic pol­lu­tion (23 Novem­ber) brings to mind this ex­change in the 1967 film, The Grad­u­ate, a suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man ad­vis­ing young Ben­jamin:

Mr McGuire: “I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.” Ben­jamin: “Yes, sir.” Mr McGuire: “Are you lis­ten­ing?” Ben­jamin: “Yes, I am.” Mr McGuire: “Plas­tics.” Ben­jamin: “Ex­actly how do you mean?”

Mr McGuire: “There’s a great fu­ture in plas­tics. Think about it. Will you think about it?” Nor­bert Hirschhorn Lon­don, UK

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