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Home » The Ugly Truth about Big Oil, Plastics, and our Climate: Aarthi Ananthanarayanan (Transcript)

The Ugly Truth about Big Oil, Plastics, and our Climate: Aarthi Ananthanarayanan (Transcript)

Here is the full text and summary of Aarthi Ananthanarayanan’s talk titled “The Ugly Truth about Big Oil, Plastics, and our Climate” at TEDxPortland conference.

Listen to the audio version here:

TRANSCRIPT:

This is coal. And it’s a fossil fuel. Gasoline, that’s a fossil fuel. And plastic, that’s a fossil fuel too. That’s how we have to think about plastic. Because plastic is made of oil. And of all the uses of oil, plastic is growing the fastest.

But we don’t often think about plastic as a part of the climate crisis. And the simple fact is, for the climate, for our oceans, and for our health, we have to use less gas, less oil, and less coal everywhere. And that means for energy, for cars, and for plastic too.

Because 11 million tons of plastic is going into our ocean every year. 11 million! And if we do nothing, in two decades, that’s going to triple. And we can think about that a little bit like a massive oil spill. It’s killing seabirds from the outside in and from the inside out. And just like Exxon is synonymous with the Exxon Valdez oil spill, today it’s the largest manufacturer of single-use plastic in the world.

Just to give you a sense of scale, the oil used to make those 11 million tons of plastic is about the same as 800 Exxon Valdez oil spills every year. And it’s not just the lives of seabirds that were sacrificing for that plastic. It’s a family that lives by a fracking site. It’s communities along the Gulf of Mexico, mostly black and brown communities, whose neighborhoods have turned into cancer clusters because of the plastic production facilities in their backyards.

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