Oceans and Plastic Pollution
Oceans and Plastic Pollution
The issues in the paper are directed to the youths and from all levels regardless of the level of education or the economic income. The youth population is important because they form the basis of spearheading the protection of the environment for ensuring sustainability. The youth population is considered innovative and creative thereby can contribute greatly to addressing the issues surrounding oceans and plastic pollution.
The issue of disposing plastics in oceans has become dominant in recent times. There is approximately 5.25 trillion micro and macro plastics floating in oceans whose weight are close to 296000 tonnes (SAS.org 2020). Plastic bottles are commonly used by people when traveling on holiday or in functions and more concerns are how they are disposed of. The disposable plastics have a negative effect on both human and marine life. The points of discussion in this approach include the current situation of plastic pollution, the effects of the entry of plastics in oceans including the control measures/interventions. The plastic pollution in the ocean has become a significant problem on humans, plants and animals’ lives and can be solved by innovative and collaborative approaches.
Main Points and Evidence
Basing on the current situations of plastics, the world produces more than 380 million tonnes of plastics each year (IUCN.org, 2018). However, a significant percentage of approximately 8 million tonnes are directed to the ocean every year and constitute approximately 80% of the marine debris (Our World in Data, 2020). Some of the additional plastics are directed to the landfills. In the current year 2020, the global oceanic plastic wastes are estimated at 3% of all the plastics manufactured. Most plastic materials are less dense than water and therefore float on it (Our World in Data, 2020). The figures only form the number of plastics that float on water which is likely to be less because some are heavier and might sink. The estimate across the world is estimated at 250,000 tonnes. Additionally, 82 million tonnes of macroplastics and 40 million microplastics are washed and driven to the shorelines (IUCN.org, 2018).
Figure 1: The current effect of plastic pollution in past current and future (Source: Our World in Data, 2020)
The plastic pollution and especially in oceans has a negative effect on the marine environment, food and health and climatic change. Plastics cause suffocation and entanglement among several species (Our World in Data, 2020). Marine animals such as the whales, fish and seabirds suffocate and die as a result of the consumption of plastics due to starvation. The plastics cause infections and internal injuries in the marine animals as well as the spread of bacteria and microorganisms which are a threat to their lives. On the other hand, plastics have negative effects on human life due to food contamination (Our World in Data, 2020). Water and human foods may contain particles that increase water contamination. The chemical-induced by the plastics can affect the endocrine system, developmental and neurological issues. Additionally, toxic contaminants also accumulate on the top of the plastics which can eventually be injected in water for consumption thereby affecting human health (Our World in Data, 2020). Climatic change is also another factor that is drastically influenced by the presence of plastics in oceans. Plastics are made of petroleum products which are a factor that contributes to global warming; gases such as carbon iv oxide are released to the atmosphere causing a greenhouse effect. According to Hammer, Kraak & Parsons (2012), the plastics are biochemically inert and all plastics are not pure but contains the polymeric structures that emit a variety of chemicals known as additives which have a negative effect to the environment.
Interventions can be put in place to reduce plastic contamination of oceanic water. The methods include prevention, recycling, and clean-up (Hammer, Kraak & Parsons, 2012). The issues of plastic pollution are increasing due to a lack of global preventive strategies. The strategies of prevention involve the legislation process where all countries should adhere to the legislation standards governing the use of plastics. Examples of such legislation include the MARPOL 73/78, the Regional Seas Programme, and The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (Hammer, Kraak & Parsons, 2012). The other method of prevention entails the use of alternatives for plastics which include the use of biodegradable plastics which are made of renewable sources that discompose easily. The other alternatives include Polylactic acid and Plastarch material (Hammer, Kraak & Parsons, 2012). The plastics can also be recycled to reduce the production energy and reducing the dumping of materials. The clean-up strategies can also be adopted to reduce the entry of plastics in oceans. The cleaning process can be done by classifying some plastics as environmentally friendly and introduce legislation to reduce the plastics entry to the environment
In conclusion, the paper addresses three major points on the subject which include the current situation of plastic pollution, the effects of plastics plastic entry in oceans including the control measures/interventions. The current situation is outlined by the use of statistics from databases of credible organizations, the effect of entry of plastics in oceans has been discussed based on existing literature and found to have devastating effects on both marine animals and human beings. The intervention approaches considered include prevention, recycling and clean-up.
Hammer, J., Kraak, M. H. S., & Parsons, J. R. (2012). Plastics in the Marine Environment: The Dark Side of a Modern Gift. Reviews of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, 1–44. doi: 10.1007/978-1-4614-3414-6_1
IUCN.org. (2018, December 5). Marine plastics. Retrieved February 5, 2020, from https://www.iucn.org/resources/issues-briefs/marine-plastics
Our World in Data . (2020). Where does our plastic accumulate in the ocean and what does that mean for the future? Retrieved February 5, 2020, from https://ourworldindata.org/where-does-plastic-accumulate
SAS.org. (2020). Environmental charity tackling plastic pollution. Retrieved February 5, 2020, from https://www.sas.org.uk/
Suffers Against Sewage. (2020). Plastic Pollution – Facts and Figures • Surfers Against Sewage. Retrieved February 5, 2020, from https://www.sas.org.uk/our-work/plastic-pollution/plastic-pollution-facts-figures/