What must we do about rubbish?



Publication Details

Buchanan, I. M. (2016). What must we do about rubbish?. Drain: Journal of Contemporary Art and Culture, 13 (1),


There can be few messier or more urgent problems facing the world today than the state of its oceans. “The last two hundred years have seen marine habitats wiped out or transformed beyond recognition. And with an ever-accelerating tide of human impact, the oceans have changed more in the last thirty years than in all of human history before it.” Needless to say that change has been anything but beneficial. Indeed, it has been nothing short of devastating, and the carnage continues. “In most places, the oceans of have lost upwards of 75 percent of their megafauna – large animals such as whales, dolphins, sharks, rays and turtles – as fishing and hunting has spread in waves across the face of the planet.” For some species numbers are down by as much as 99 percent and there are dozens more that have literally disappeared.[1] And that doesn’t even begin to cover the full extent of the destruction. One must also mention algal and jellyfish blooms, acidification, coral bleaching, the appearance of and spread of deoxygenated ‘dead zones’, rising water temperatures and the incredible volume of biological and non-biological pollutants and rubbish that has been pumped into the ocean without a second thought for either the present or the future. “Yet outside the world of marine science, this global catastrophe pass[es] largely unseen and unremarked.

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