The Green Blues Show – Edition 6

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The Green Blues Show

In today’s show: As sea levels rise on a warming Earth, urban engineers defend coastlines in innovative ways. Another look at plastic pollution, and scary microbes on the loose. Are multi-drug resistant bacteria a greater threat to humanity than global terrorism?

 

It’s so simple. Pour coffee into a plastic-coasted paper cup at your local java shop, slip on a durable plastic cover, pay up and head out. Just a few steps down the hall, over at the food court or in your car, slip off that plastic cover and throw it away. Of all the one-time uses plastics get put to, none are as absurd as this.

The Plastic Pollution Coalition aims to put an end to single-use plastics. A few interesting stats from their website: Seventeen million barrels of oil go into plastic production each year. Each and every day, Americans use, then throw out 88,000 tons of plastic products. (No doubt, we Canadians are the same).

Each year, up to a trillion plastic bags are filled, emptied and chucked out. Many end up – along with other single-use plastic products – in the oceans. By 2050, the mass of plastic in the world’s oceans will exceed the mass of fish, much of it intact, along with countless particles in various states of indigestible fragmentation.

The good news: countries, cities and individual consumers are taking action. Just one example: In Queensland, Australia, a complete ban on single-use plastic bags will come into effect next summer. Down Under and On Top, the most crucial steps to end plastic pollution are being taken by individuals, who tread slowly, compostable cup of coffee in hand – with no plastic cover.

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As Earth’s oceans expand thermally — in lockstep with atmospheric warming — American coastal cities are looking for ways to stave off floods. Who better to turn to for ideas than the Dutch? Over the past decade, Dutch engineers and planners have been devising nature-based flood control systems that are cheap – and effective.

Marcel Stives (David Kattenburg)

The Green Blues Show spoke with Marcel Stives, Chair of Coastal Engineering in the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences at the Delft University of Technology, in Delft, the Netherlands.

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Plastics … the ultimate expression of humanity’s thirst for things. Aside from the foods we eat and beverages we drink, virtually everything we use in our daily lives – the packages we buy them in – are made of plastic. If recent news reports are to be believed, even our food and water is contaminated.

For a perspective on microplastic pollution of the world’s oceans, we spoke with Peter Kershaw, Chairman of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection, an advisory body to the United Nations.

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Thanks to miracle drugs like penicillin, infectious disease has been largely eliminated as a cause of death in the so-called “developed” world. In biology, however, success has a curious way of breeding failure.

McMaster University microbiologists Eric Brown and Jerry Wright (David Kattenburg)

The widespread use and misuse of antibiotics have yielded an ugly crop of pathogens resistant to antibiotics. So-called “superbugs” scoff at everything we throw at them.

According to the US Center for Disease Control, an estimated two million Americans get infected by antibiotic-resistant bacteria each year. Among these, multi-drug resistant bugs no antibiotic can arrest. An estimated 50,000 North Americans and Europeans die, annually, from infections by one or another of eighteen drug-resistant bacterial species. Stats from the global south are scarier.

In today’s edition of The Green Blues Show, songs by Mike Bloomfield, Elmore James and the Rev. Gary Davis

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