Trash everywhere: on Everest, under sea, even in space

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Trash everywhere: on Everest, under sea, even in space

Is anything - anything at all - sacrosanct enough for us to not litter?

By Vicky Kapur (From the Executive Editor's Desk)

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Published: Thu 16 May 2019, 8:28 PM

What's wrong with us humans, seriously? Are we homo sapiens, with brains so evolved that we (at least some of us) have mastered quantum mechanics and DNA sequencing and what not, in reality so dense that we can't begin to apprehend the repercussions of flicking that cigarette butt or chucking that plastic bag out of the car? We used to talk about the health (or lack of it) of the planet that we'll be leaving behind for our children, but it is no longer just the planet that we're wrecking with our ill-advised concoction of arrogance, apathy and mental infirmity. If it wasn't enough to have irresponsibly littered our homes, communities and cities, we are now setting more dubious benchmarks by cluttering the deepest points in the ocean, the pinnacles of the tallest mountain tops, and even outer space with all the trash that is the product of our neglect in the first place. Is anything - anything at all - sacrosanct enough for us to not litter?
At 29,000 feet, Mount Everest is mother Earth's highest mountain. It's supposed to be the loneliest place in the world - but we've managed to leave 100 tonnes of waste behind. What goes up should come down, in theory. But if you happen to visit the mountain top or care enough to scan through some of the pictures clicked by concerned climbers, there's all sort of junk that hasn't come down, including climbing gear, empty food tins, beverage cans - and even human waste. Then there's the gleaming discovery made by the man who dove to the deepest ocean point that a human has ever gone: garbage. That's 10,900 metres below the sea level, and yet signs of human indifference insolently manifest themselves in the form of plastic. Yes, plastic - that fantastic creation that can take up to 1,000 years to decompose. And don't even get me started about the 128 million pieces of space debris that are floating around in the cosmos, threatening space stations, satellites, and rockets. Humans are known for the power of passion and perseverance, grit and determination. It's time to put those to use.

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