Plastic Pollution of the Oceans
By: Jonathan Xu
Since its invention in 1907, plastic has become a major issue in pollution. Non-biodegradable in nature, plastic fills the rivers and oceans and harms the ecosystems within. Now, even though many companies are trying to stop this pollution, it is already too late.
Scientists estimate that every year, there are 8 million metric tons of plastic that enters the world’s oceans, which is nearly the same as 90 aircraft carriers. All of this plastic severely harms the ecosystems of the ocean through entanglement, ingestion, and more. .
Mainly, the plastic gets itself stuck in every nook and cranny and is oftentimes seen as food for some sea creatures. Once the sea animal or fish realizes it is not actually the food it was expecting, it is often too late, as it has permanently lodged a piece of plastic in its system, which will slowly kill it.
Entanglement happens more often than ingestion, and is just as deadly. Some sea creatures, like seals and turtles, may get themselves stuck in a tangle of plastic, that may be impossible to escape from without the aid of humans, which is often unavailable. When this happens, the plastic usually hinders the growth of the animal that was unfortunate enough to get itself entangled.
Under the current trajectory of plastic waste in the ocean, scientists have estimated that by the year 2040, there would be about 50 kilograms of plastic for every meter of coastline in the world. Another quite devastating estimate is how there is not a single square mile of ocean, from the equator to the poles, that is completely devoid of plastic pollution.
Despite these alarming concerns, many fossil fuel companies are planning on an increase in plastic production by a whole 40 percent over the next decade. This does not bode well for the biodiversity and wildlife of the oceans, for the increase of plastic production would also mean more harm to the environment.
Many organizations have set up websites with instructions on how to decrease and minimize the amount of plastic you use in your everyday life. This includes recycling whatever that is recyclable instead of tossing it into the trash, and using non-plastic versions of everyday objects like toothbrushes, cups, cutlery, garbage bags, shopping bags, straw, the list goes on and on, and ends only where humanity’s creativity and love for nature does.