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自分が読んで興味深く感じた英文記事を中心に取り上げる予定です

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Just One World Plastics

 
プラスチック廃棄物の問題は特に目新しい問題ではありませんが、今週のEconomistがまとめてくれていました。マイクロプラスチックの問題だけでなく、1月に中国がプラスチックごみの輸入を禁止したり、EU委員会がプラスチックのリサイクルを核に据えた戦略を発表したことを受けてのようです。

The environment
So far, it seems less bad than other kinds of pollution (about which less fuss is made)
Print edition | International
Mar 3rd 2018

MR MCGUIRE had just one word for young Benjamin, in “The Graduate”: plastics. It was 1967, and chemical engineers had spent the previous decade devising cheap ways to splice different hydrocarbon molecules from petroleum into strands that could be moulded into anything from drinks bottles to Barbie dolls. Since then global plastic production has risen from around 2m tonnes a year to 380m tonnes, nearly three times faster than world GDP.

Unfortunately, of the 6.3bn tonnes of plastic waste produced since the 1950s only 9% has been recycled and another 12% incinerated. The rest has been dumped in landfills or the natural environment. Often, as with disposable coffee cups, drinks bottles, sweet wrappers and other packets that account for much of the plastic produced in Europe and America, this happens after a brief, one-off indulgence. If the stuff ends up in the sea, it can wash up on a distant beach or choke a seal. Exposed to salt water and ultraviolet light, it can fragment into “microplastics” small enoughto find their way into fish bellies. From there, it seems only a short journey to dinner plates.



映画『卒業』の有名なシーンjust one world, plasticsから書き始めるケースは以前このブログでも取り上げました。現在のAIみたいな地位をかつてはプラスチックも占めていたのでしょうか。

I just want to say one word to you. Just one word.
Yes, sir. 
Are you listening?
Yes, I am.
Plastics.
Exactly how do you mean?
There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?
Yes, I will.
I've said. That's a deal.

このエピソードはプラスチックを扱う時にはキャッチとしてよく使われるようで、ネット検索でマイクロプラスチックを取り上げているところでもありました。

Lloyd Singleton, Extension Agent II

In the 1967 classic film, “The Graduate”, a conversation between young Ben and Mr. McGuire goes like this: “I want to say one word to you. Just one word.” “Yes, sir.” “Are you listening?” “Yes, I am.” “Plastics.” “Exactly how do you mean?” “There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?”

So, 50 years later, and plastics are ubiquitous in our everyday life. But not without an environmental impact, “microplastics”. Almost too small to notice, the term generally refers to pieces of plastic that are smaller than 5 mm in size, or about 2/10 of an inch. Microplastics can be found throughout the world’s ocean and coastal habitats—from surface waters to deep sea sediments, as well as in the stomachs of a variety of marine life—from plankton to whales.

Economistの記事に戻りますが、EU委員会の発表やリサイクル率の調査研究はいずれもネットで公開されています。EUの発表も中国が廃棄物の受け入れをしないということとセットで考えれば、新たな規制でイニシアチブを取ろうというよりも廃棄物処理問題が切実だからかもしれません。



Economistではプラスチック廃棄の問題は新しいものはマイクロプラスチックの懸念であるが全容はわかっていないと慎重な書き方をしています。



The perception of plastics as ugly, unnatural, inauthentic and disposable is not new. Even in “The Graduate” they symbolised America’s consumerism and moral emptiness. Visible plastic pollution is an old complaint, too (years ago, plastic bags caught in trees were nicknamed “witches’ knickers”). What is new is the suspicion that microplastics are causing widespread harm to humans and the environment in an invisible, insidious manner. “Blue Planet 2”, a nature series presented by Sir David Attenborough that aired in Britain last October and in America in January, made the case beautifully. But the truth is that little is known about the environmental consequences of plastic—and what is known doesn’t look hugely alarming.

新技術などにはすぐ飛びつくEconomistですが、こういう問題では最後まで慎重な姿勢を崩すことはありませんでした。

Plastic pollution “is not the Earth’s most pressing problem”, in the words of one European official. But, he immediately adds, just because plastics may not be the biggest problem facing humanity does not make them trouble-free. As scientists never tire of repeating, more research is needed. It is the absence of evidence about how plastics influence health rather than evidence of absence that explains their bit part in the Lancet Commission report, says Philip Landrigan of the Icahn School of Medicine in New York, who chaired it.

2000語を超える記事ですがよくまとまっていますので、精読すれば英検対策のネタとしても有効活用できると思います。
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Yuta

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