For those of you who don’t think that worrying about climate change is enough to keep you busy, you might want to take a look at this study commissioned by the WWF, Impacts of Plastic Pollution in the Oceans on Marine Species, Biodiversity and Ecosystems.
The report estimates that approximately 20 million metric tons of plastic find their way into the world’s oceans annually. It also notes that, because macroplastics break down over time into microplastics and nanoplastics, the amount of microplastics and nanoplastics entering the ocean would increase for some time, even if we stopped discarding all plastic tomorrow. Of course, that seems unlikely – the report estimates that emissions of plastics will roughly triple by 2050.
Aside from the dire consequences of the problem, ocean plastics share another feature with climate change – it’s going to take international cooperation to solve it.
Oh well, at least it provides me with another opportunity to post Robert Frost’s own rendition of Fire and Ice.
Plastics pollution and climate change are inextricably linked because plastics are produced by the extraction and combustion of fossil fuels. So, it seems, the pathway to improvement should involve ( government mandated and subsidized !?) R & D and substitution of alternate climate- friendly biodegradable products for plastics. Like Climate Change, this remains more or less understood but largely ignored by the environmental regulatory community at all level for decades.
Excellent point. Good reminder.