Sea the danger

The Scotsman - - Perspective / Letters To The Editor -

Ilona Amos is cor­rect to ques- tion the poor state of our on­cepris­tine sandy beaches and the ef­fect nur­dles are hav­ing on ma­rine bi­ol­ogy (15 Oc­to­ber). How­ever, I do won­der why we, an en­vi­ron­men­tally aware so­ci­ety, have only just wo­ken up to the dan­gers of pol­lut­ing our seas and rivers.

Nur­dles may sound like beastly crea­tures from a Harry Pot­ter se­quel; they are, in fact, small plas­tic pel­lets that are threat­en­ing ma­rine and hu­man bi­ol­ogy more than any dis­rup­tive preda­tor could at­tempt to do. My great grand­fa­ther, writer and ge­og­ra­pher John Fran­con Wil­liams FRGS, in his his­toric and ground­break­ing book Ge­og­ra­phy of the Oceans, pub­lished in 1881, em­pha­sises how frag­ile planet earth is and ex­plains how the oceans are both de­struc­tive and re­pro­duc­tive and that the land ac­tu­ally en­croaches on the wa­ter. He also be­lieved “the present ocean is but a vast work­shop, where the ma­te­ri­als of fu­ture con­ti­nents are elab­o­rated and pre­served”.

That a man of so lit­tle sci­en­tific means could come up with such a warn­ing 136 years ago proves how slowly we have pro­gressed with re­gards to en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues since my great grand­fa­ther’s day.

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