International Breakfast - Nov 14
Our Nov 14th speaker was Michael Shewchuk, Legal Officer at the UN and Co-Founder of the Global Center for Human Change, Hespoke on the current state of our plastics pollution and the ineffective thinking that has both created and exasperated the issue.
 
    Read a report of the meeting inside.



RCNY International Breakfast at the UN
Report by Andreas Runggatscher


RCNY's November 14th International Breakfast featured speaker, Michael Shewchuk, Legal Officer at the United Nations and Co-Founder of the Global Center for Human Change, spoke on the current state of our plastics pollution and the ineffective thinking that has both created and exasperated the issue. He emphasized that the Climate Change is not a distant and future issue, but rather, it is here & now. In fact, it's a product of our current level of thinking. He introduced a model of how we 'survive' through a continuum of "Pressure" and "Ease." Anytime we feel the pressure of a negative stimulant, we respond by adapting to the circumstances with actions and systems meant to ease those pressures.

To contextualize this model, he spoke on how everytime we use or consume something involving plastic, we relieve the pressure of it by throwing it away. In the wake of understanding the negative impact of plastics on our environment, we've created systems like recycling to minimize and distance ourselves from the pressure and responsibility of our actions, but in turn, we don't fully recognize the impact of our choices. In actuality, recycling is a much more difficult and complex system than we perceive, and only approximately ten percent of plastics are actually being recycled. Everything else is ending up in either landfills or the ocean. Those in the ocean are getting broken down into microparticles (small enough to pass the blood-brain barrier!) and being eaten by marine animals and making its way up the food chain. The impact of this is yet to be fully determined. Plastic is a part of our daily lives and is part of our foods, cosmetics, clothing, etc. and even in our air. To put it into perspective the gravity of the situation, New York City, alone, creates enough trash to fill the Empire State Building, daily.

In response, technology is being developed to fight against the harmful effects of these issues. But to this, Mr. Shewchuk responded with a quote from Einstein, "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them." It is human thinking that is no longer a sustainable part of the planet, but information alone does not change human behavior. Currently, our mindsets are driven by the fear of a system that tells us that 'there is not enough' (even though in reality, there is enough) and in turn has led us to exploit the resources on this earth. In order to truly start addressing the issue, we must resist our tendency to simply 'fix' the problems, instead, he implores us to consider that we need to shift from a perspective of looking at what & how we do things, but rather to a consciousness of why we do how/what we do.




 
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