April 26th, 02012 by Austin Brown
The Long Now Foundation’s monthly
Susan Freinkel on “Eternal Plastic: A Toxic Love Story”
Tuesday May 22, 02012 at 7:30pm Cowell Theater at Fort Mason
Long Now Members can reserve 2 seats, join today! • General Tickets $10
About this Seminar:
Plastic now pervades civilization—how many of the things you see from where you are right now are plastic? It is an ingenious material whose miraculous qualities we take too much for granted, but it also sometimes has nightmarish downstream effects. The giant polymer molecules (polyethylene, polypropylene, polystyrene, etc.) that are so marvelously cheap to mold, extrude, shape, and weave are also extremely durable. Their cheapness makes them the basic material of a throw-away culture (one third of all plastic goes into disposable packaging.) Their durability means that any toxic effects persist indefinitely in the environment.
Plastic presents a problem in temporal management of the very long-term and the very short-term. How do we get the benefits of plastic’s amazing durability while reducing the harm from its convenient disposability? The matter requires close and respectful coordination between short-term experts (businesses) and long-term experts (governments and nonprofits). Managing plastic well is a microcosm of managing civilization well.
Susan Freinkel is the author of Plastic: A Toxic Love Story and American Chestnut: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of a Perfect Tree.