Time to rein in pollution
The government's recent response to public concern over plastic and other pollution has been as tepid as it was disappointing. Faced with real evidence and dramatic cases of ongoing harm, authorities failed to seize the day. The pathetic and heavily documented death of a male pilot whale that choked on 80 plastic bags highlighted what we are doing to the oceans. The case caused experts to emerge to explain the details. The response by the government was a short, barely publicised and utterly failed attempt to stop vendors in some Bangkok wet markets. And even that has now halted.
This is not acceptable action in the face of huge increases in pollution in recent years. Thailand is the world's sixth-largest source of plastic waste currently polluting oceans. Among other consequences, this accumulation of Thai waste kills the animals of the sea. Whales, dolphins and turtles die from accidental consumption of plastic directly from Thailand. They die, according to international expert Thon Thamrongnawasawat of Kasetsart University, at the rate of about one such animal a day, all year.
Some selfish and neglectful government officials have ignored evidence of this terrible pollution, and the nation's neglect of the plastics problem. That excuse ended last month. Eight weeks ago, experts from the Department of Marine and Coastal Resource found a highly distressed pilot whale, barely alive, in a canal near the Malaysian border. They took it to their facilities and began trying to nurse the animal back to health. They took 80 consumer-size plastic bags from inside the whale, which died within a day from its injuries. As Mr Thon put it, realistically, "If you have 80 plastic bags in your stomach, you die."
Bangkok Post editorial column
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