Unit 7

Background

Thomas Thwaites: How I built a toaster — from scratch

TEDSalon London 2010 · 10:51 · Filmed Nov 2010

It takes an entire civilization to build a toaster. Designer Thomas Thwaites found out the hard way, by attempting to build one from scratch: mining ore for steel, deriving plastic from oil ... it's frankly amazing he got as far as he got. A parable of our interconnected society, for designers and consumers alike.

The process of Thwaites project is really interesting because you never really consider how the materials are produced. We just take them for granted. It is quite interesting how difficult it is to work with the materiality like the machines does and that it looks so different if you make something yourself. It is like an oldschool man-made production and a very slow process. 

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Charles Moore: Seas of plastic

Filmed February 2009 at TED2009

Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he's drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.

Generell overview about how much plastic is in the oceans. Furthermore how it affects the life of fish and the comparison that there is more plastic than plankton in the seas.

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Anthropocene

ˈanθrəpəˌsiːn/
adjective
adjective: Anthropocene
  1. relating to or denoting the current geological age, viewed as the period during which human activity has been been the dominant influence on climate and the environment.
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Plastiglomerate

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Rocks Made of Plastic Found on Hawaiian Beach
by Angus Chen
 

Plastic may be with us a lot longer than we thought. In addition to clogging up landfills and becoming trapped in Arctic ice, some of it is turning into stone. Scientists say a new type of rock cobbled together from plastic, volcanic rock, beach sand, seashells, and corals has begun forming on the shores of Hawaii. 

“The article is intriguing and fascinating,” says geophysicist Douglas Jerolmack of the University of Pennsylvania, who was not involved in the work. “If these things can be preserved, then they might be a nice marker around the world of when humans came to dominate the globe and leave behind their refuse in mass quantities.”

Geologist Patricia Corcoran of the University of Western Ontario in London, Canada, and Charles Moore, captain of the oceanographic research vessel Alguita, stumbled upon the new rocks on a beach on the Big Island of Hawaii. These stones, which they’ve dubbed “plastiglomerates,” most likely formed from melting plastic in fires lit by humans who were camping or fishing, the team reports this month in GSA Today. Although anywhere there is a heat source, such as forest fires or lava flows, and “abundant plastic debris,” Corcoran says, “there is the potential for the formation of plastiglomerate.” When the plastic melts, it cements rock fragments, sand, and shell debris together, or the plastic can flow into larger rocks and fill in cracks and bubbles to form a kind of junkyard Frankenstein.

Corcoran says some of the plastic is still recognizable as toothbrushes, forks, ropes, and just “anything you can think of.” Once the plastic has fused to denser materials, like rock and coral, it sinks to the sea floor, and the chances it will become buried and preserved in the geologic record increase.

Corcoran and her team canvassed Kamilo Beach on the Big Island for more of the rocks and found plastiglomerate in all 21 sites they surveyed. She says people have already found plastiglomerate on another Hawaiian island, and she expects there to be much more on coastlines across the world. Plastiglomerate is likely well distributed, it’s just never been noticed before now, she says.

Jerolmack agrees. “All around the world where there’s trash being openly burned in mass quantities, you can imagine there are even larger melted plastic deposits” where plastiglomerate could form.

The discovery adds to the debate about whether humanity’s heavy hand in natural processes warrants the formal declaration of a new epoch of Earth history, the Anthropocene, says paleontologist Jan Zalasiewicz of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, who was not involved in the study. Plastics in general are so pervasive that they’ve been documented in a number of surprising places, including ingested in wildlife and on the sea floor. The mass of plastic produced since 1950 is close to 6 billion metric tons, enough to bundle the entire planet in plastic wrap. Combine plastic’s abundance with its persistence in the environment, and there’s a good chance it’ll get into the fossil record, Zalasiewicz says. “Plastics, including plastiglomerates, would be one of the key markers by which people could recognize the beginning of the Anthropocene.”

How long the plastic will endure remains a matter of debate, however. Jerolmack says he doubts the material will stick around in the fossil record. After all, plastic melts, and rocks often pass through hellish depths and temperatures through tectonic processes and burial. Geologist Philip Gibbard of the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom says he imagines that plastics might “revert back to a source of oil from whence they came, given the right conditions of burial.” But Zalasiewicz and Corcoran say that isn’t true for all the plastic. Some of the material can be preserved as a thin carbon film, much like the way fossil leaves are preserved. Zalasiewicz says that in some rare cases, in that etch of carbon “you may well be left the shape for a flattened plastic bottle.”


Source: http://news.sciencemag.org/earth/2014/06/rocks-made-plastic-found-hawaiian-beach

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Plastic Planet Trailer

Uploaded on 3 Dec 2010

to buy the dvd, go here: 
http://firstrunfeatures.com/plasticpl...

We live in the Age of Plastic. It's cheap and practical, and it's everywhere -- even in our blood. But is it a danger to us?

This feisty, informative documentary takes us on a journey around the globe - from the Moroccan Sahara to the middle of the Pacific Ocean, from a factory in China to the highest peaks of the Alps - to reveal the far-flung reaches of our plastic problem. Interviews with the world's foremost experts in biology, pharmacology, and genetics shed light on the perils of plastic to our environment and expose the truth of how plastic affects our bodies and the health of future generations.

With Original Music by the ORB.

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