To the Editor:
Wait, I am confused. The Island cares about plastic bottles, but not acres of synthetic plastic turf? The Martha’s Vineyard Commission has a Climate Action Task Force, yet they just approved a petrochemical product that contributes to climate change in every phase of its life?
Plastic is a byproduct of oil, and the burning of fossil fuels is heating up the planet. Shouldn’t we be doing everything humanly possible to avoid contributing to our accelerating climate crisis? Why would the MVC approve such an action when there is a clear and viable alternative that has sufficed perfectly well for as many years as there have been students needing fields to play on? Every time we have the hubris to think we can do things better than nature does, we lose.
There is also the matter of what to do with the synthetic plastic once it needs replacing. Every inch of plastic ever made still exists somewhere … in a landfill, in our oceans, in the sky (if they burn it), in our bodies. Yes, our bodies. We are consuming microplastics when we consume the fish that eat it.
The PFAS chemicals used in plastic turf are also a problem. They are such a big problem they are nicknamed “forever chemicals.” Forever because they are indestructible, they move easily around the environment, and can accumulate in our bodies. Definitely not a material I would think the MVC would agree to truck in on the ferry. The chemicals in the plastic do not stay in the plastic, for they can and do leech into surrounding waters through the rain or washing.
Is Martha’s Vineyard going to be part of the solution or part of the problem? We really have to decide. Clearly the MVC decision puts us solidly on the side of the latter. This terrible decision also undermines any moral authority the Vineyard might have to challenge the Cape, Nantucket, and the mainland (not to mention each and every one of us) to do more to address the climate crisis. We need all hands on deck, and we need them right now. There is no vaccine for this one, only individual action, community and business action, and governmental action to reduce our use of fossil fuels and do it quickly. We also need a Climate Action Task Force that means something.