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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Plastic Birds

Plastic Birds

Bird spotting is not a typical activity for us next nature explorers, yet occasionally we bump into some birds worth mentioning (remember the amazing copy-paste bird, rubber duck XL, the wild birds illegally immigrating into city Zoo, or the plastic flamingos that almost became extinct?)

Undoubtedly these ‘plastic’ birds spotted by photographer Chris Jordan are the most macabre thus far. One wonders what Darwin would have thought of these Albatross babies fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents, who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. According to the photographer thousands of chicks a year, kick the bucket from starvation, toxicity, and choking from their diet of human trash.

Feeding your babies plastic is definitely not a good survival strategy for these poor birds. On the other hand, plastic seems to be thriving as a new material all over our planet, with no living organism able to break it down or consume it. Nietzsche already learned us that every second nature typically stresses a first nature, which in effect deteriorates, after which the victorious second nature becomes the first.

Are we ready for a plastic planet? Surely that bit of mindful recycling you are urging yourself to turn into a habit, won’t undo the effect. How long should we wait for the microbes to evolve that are able to digest plastic? Certainly there is more than enough ‘food’ for them available within the ecosystem by now. Somebody please call one of these synthetic biologists to fix us a microbe that eats plastic.
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Via Trendbeheer. Related: Portraits of American Mass Consumption, Next Nest, Biodiversity in the Supermarket, Rubber duck XLCopy-paste bird, Wild birds illegally immigrating into city Zoo, People in Need Campaign. Thanks: Tinkebell & Selby.

Discussion

  1. interesting Google ad at the bottom of this post

    http://alright3.blogspot.com/2009/10/funny-google-ad.html

  2. systmh

    Gee, maybe they’ll evolve a trait that makes plastic less appetizing to them. Wait, no… That’s wrong. Nature is a perpetually static and fragile thing. It’s not like humans are animals too, our by-products also being natural. That’s just crazy. I forgot. My bad.

  3. @John Weeks Thanks for sharing! Of course Google Ads vary depending on your location, so here’s that screenshot:

  4. cryptozoologist

    i dunno, plastic eating bacteria has the potential to be a cure worse than the disease.

  5. Robert Bradford creates his life-size and larger-than-life sculptures of humans and animals from discarded plastic items, mainly toys but also other colorful plastic bits and pieces, such as combs and buttons, brushes and parts of clothes pegs
    http://www.robertbradford.co.uk/

  6. Baccho Umbertis

    The next generation is already working on it!
    http://www.mnn.com/technology/research-innovations/blogs/boy-discovers-microbe-that-eats-plastic

  7. Yes this is a huge problem. It’s also hitting fish in the ocean. There are many researchers covering the “gyre” on the Northern Pacific, but there are 4 others Gyres that are just begging to be researched. Of the best groups is the Algalita Foundation http://algalita.org

  8. I’m in Australia and my google ad is for a company here called Gullsweep which deal with bird deterrents. :/

    Cryptozoologist makes a good point. Some applications of plastic would be difficult to replace with alternative materials. A lot of it involves hygeine. So many medical products rely on the disposability of plastic.

    The gyre is made up of incorrectly disposed of plastic. A lot of it started on land far from the sea. We all have a responsibility to ensure our waterways are kept free of plastic by ensuring we recycle and making sure our rubbish is secure when put out. Litterbugs have a lot to answer for.

    Since learning about the gyre a few years ago I have taken the time to pick up stray bits of plastic around my home. If everyone did the right thing we could stop anymore being added to the natural environment.

  9. Craig

    thats damn depressing

  10. da bishop

    Microbes have already evolved to digest chemical effluent from mining.

    I’d guess that it will take a few decades for the microbes to digest the plastic.