It was a good thing that happened for our environment when President Trump signed the Save Our Seas Act the other day, a bipartisan new law aimed at cleaning up the millions of tons of trash that are dumped into the oceans.
But, of course, Trump had to turn it all into dollars and the financial impact on the U.S. of cleanup, saying it's unfair that people from other countries trash the seas and the U.S. ends up paying the tab for cleaning that up. Once again, Trump shifts the blame -- this time to foreign countries "like China and Japan."
Said Trump when signing the bill, those foreign countries are dumping 8 million tons of debris each year into the world’s oceans, and it then floats to the U.S. coast.
“Every year, over 8 million tons of garbage is dumped into our beautiful oceans by many countries of the world. That includes China, that includes Japan, and that includes many, many countries. This waste, trash, and debris harms not only marine life, but also fishermen, coastal economies along America’s vast stretches. The bad news is it floats toward us,” Trump said.
“I’ve seen pictures recently, and some of you have seen them, where there’s a vast, tremendous, unthinkable amount of garbage... floating right into our coast, in particular along the West Coast. And we’re charged with removing it, which is a very unfair situation. It comes from other countries very far away. It takes six months and a year to float over, but it gets here, and it’s a very unfair situation. It’s also unbelievably bad for the oceans,” he said.
The new law “amends the Marine Debris Act to revise the Marine Debris Program to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to work with: (1) other agencies to address both land- and sea-based sources of marine debris, and (2) the Department of State and other agencies to promote international action to reduce the incidence of marine debris.”
It “also revises the program by allowing NOAA to make sums available for assisting in the cleanup and response required by severe marine debris events.”
In addition to blaming other countries for all of this trash -- of course, none from the U.S. ever gets into the ocean -- Trump blamed previous administrations for not doing anything about it. He said the offending countries have been notified "very strongly" that they had better mend their ways.
According to Ocean Conservancy, five countries account for up to 60 percent of the plastic waste that enters the world's seas: China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.
But the U.S. is not free of blame. CBS reported in 2015 that the U.S. is responsible for 750,000 pounds of trash dumped into the ocean annually and is number 20 on the list of worst offending countries.
Zero Waste Initiatives
That's why many activists, such as the Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) have called for zero waste initiatives. But to be successful, it requires participation by all of us. After all, the future of our planet is at stake, and it is precarious.
Much of the problem stems from our disposable lifestyle, which includes the use of those oh-so-convenient plastic bottles of water and other drinks, plastic grocery bags, straws, and other single use items that are then trashed, often finding their way into the oceans.
According to reports, landfills are near capacity and the market for recycling is drying up. So that means we must change the way we do things. Check out the video above, which I scripted, for more about "zero waste" and how you can help.