As you and I sit in the comfort of our homes, watching television, doing our taxes, and eating junk food, the fight to save our planet rages on in more ways than one. Climate change continues to spiral out of control, raising the temperature worldwide at alarming rates, and possibly contributing to the wildfire crisis consuming California’s forests as we speak. Pollution, of course, is not helping the situation, least of all plastic pollution.
Over 270 million tons of plastic pollute our oceans worldwide, threatening the fragile ecosystems of countless marine species, and since all life on this planet is connected in one way or another (and because the ocean’s fish make up a great deal of humanity’s source of food), this disaster threatens us as well. And since the planet is going to need all the help it can get to heal itself, it’s a good thing that it can at least count on India to do something.
In a commendable effort to fight plastic pollution, the National Green Tribunal has voted to impose a ban on all disposable plastics in the Indian capital of Delhi, which includes a 10,000-rupee fine for anyone who produces food that is caught littering, starting this January. While this may seem a little extreme to our American sensibilities (“It’s my God-given right to throw trash everywhere damnit!”), try to remember that, for lack of a better word, we are running out of time.
On top of having to deal with all the usual problems (war, poverty, disease, etc.), we’re also going to have to confront long-term problems climate change and overpopulation that, sooner or later, will threaten us all with guaranteed calamity and possible extinction. And if there’s one thing that human beings seem to hate doing, it’s dealing with important, long-term issues when we could just simply ignore them. So if a straight up ban on disposable plastic is the solution that India chooses, good for them. The sooner we deal with things like plastic pollution, the sooner we can focus all our attention and resources on heavy hitters like climate change. Hopefully, more cities will follow Delhi’s lead and begin similar bans on things that are harmful to the environment that we must also learn to live without. We don’t have time for half measures anymore.