Saturday, May 23, 2009

Is There a Plastic Paradox?

By one theory, at least, oil is what dead zones in the ancient Permian oceans turned into. It is a grievous fossil, the residue of a global oceanic anoxia, a death spiral that almost killed off all life on the planet, the great Permian-Triassic boundary event, the only global catastrophe ever known to have caused insect mass extinctions.

Oil is the carbon sink that brought the zombie Earth back from the dead 251 million years ago. It belongs in the ground, forgotten.

We pump it up from oblivion like it belongs to us. We dissipate its carbon back into the air by burning it. We refine the process to inconceivable limits with unimagined consequences; for example Oil → plastic → plastic bottles (eyeglasses, bulletproof windows, etc.) → landfills — and all the time, Nature runs a self-correcting gene pool.

I wonder. Since all those plastic bottles are made out of oil, are we accidentally doing the right thing for the wrong reason, returning, as Nature intended, all that carbon back into the ground?



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