BURP! — Wildest Arctic
❝ Of course, all our plastic crap ends up in the Arctic.
It isn’t freaking Narnia!
❝ The Arctic, in our popular imagination, is a frozen expanse teetering figuratively and literally on the edges of human culture. It remains primal and wild and unsullied by human contagions…
The Arctic, as a physical place, is directly connected to the same ecosystems that we humans are polluting closer to home. It’s foolish to think that harming one part of a connected ecosystem doesn’t harm the others, as a study released on Wednesday in the journal Science Advances makes clear. The study found that even in the remote Arctic we can’t escape the megatons of plastic waste humanity unleashes upon the world…
❝ Plastic in the world’s oceans has been a growing concern since at least 1997 when Charles Moore stumbled across the Great Pacific Garbage patch as he crossed the Pacific after competing in the Transpacific Yacht Race. Today we know that there are at least six main garbage patches filled with plastic plaguing the seas. By some estimates as much as 300,000 tons of plastics are in the world’s oceans…
❝ Plastic in the ocean isn’t just unsightly. In fact, the plastic debris that we see is less of a problem than the plastic that is too small to see easily. That’s because plastic never biodegrades. It doesn’t revert back to its molecular elements the way other materials do.
Given enough time a leaf laying on the soil floor will be eaten by bugs and microbes to become soil that once again provides the tree with nourishment. Given enough time plastic will become a smaller piece of plastic. That’s it – this stuff never goes away. Eventually, after being buffeted about by sun and salt water, it becomes small enough that sea animals confuse it with morsels of food such as seaweed, or plankton. A 2015 study found that roughly 20 percent of small fish have plastic in their bellies. Researchers have also found that some northern fulmar’s, a sea bird that hangs out mostly in the subarctic, have elevated levels of ingested plastic. Plastic it seems, is not just an occasional snack, but a steady part of their diets. Tasty.
Most societies, most governments – which you might think would know better – still think of oceans as an open sewer. You can throw any of your society’s debris in and it will somehow disappear.
5 thoughts on “Our plastic crap ends up in the Arctic”
“Turning Plastic to Oil, U.K. Startup Sees Money in Saving Oceans” (Bloomberg) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-05/turning-plastic-to-oil-u-k-startup-sees-money-in-saving-oceans See also https://assets.bwbx.io/images/users/iqjWHBFdfxIU/ieN.FnGiVMN8/v2/800x-1.png
“No escaping ocean plastic: 37 million bits of litter on one of world’s remotest islands” (University of Tasmania – Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies) https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-05/uot–neo051417.php “The beaches of one of the world’s most remote islands have been found to be polluted with the highest density of plastic debris reported anywhere on the planet, in a study published in the prestigious US scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Despite being uninhabited and located more than 5000 kilometres from the nearest major population centre, Henderson Island is littered with an estimated 37.7 million pieces of plastic.
Part of the UK’s Pitcairn Islands territory, the island is so remote that it’s only visited every five to ten years for research purposes, but its location near the centre of the South Pacific Gyre ocean current makes it a focal point for debris carried from South America or deposited by fishing boats.”
91% of Plastic Isn’t Recycled (Nat Geo 7/19/17) http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/07/plastic-produced-recycling-waste-ocean-trash-debris-environment/ A new study, published Wednesday in the peer-reviewed journal Science Advances, is the first global analysis of all plastics ever made—and their fate. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons that has been produced, 6.3 billion metric tons has become plastic waste. Of that, only nine percent has been recycled. The vast majority—79 percent—is accumulating in landfills or sloughing off in the natural environment as litter. Meaning: at some point, much of it ends up in the oceans, the final sink.
If present trends continue, by 2050, there will be 12 billion metric tons of plastic just in landfills. That amount is 35,000 times as heavy as the Empire State Building.
The same team produced the first study that assessed the amount of plastic trash that flows into the oceans annually. That research, published in 2015, estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic ends up in the oceans every year. That is the equivalent to five grocery bags of plastic trash for every foot of coastline around the globe. At that time the forecast was that by 2025 the number of grocery bags of plastic per foot of coastline would double and 155 million tons of plastic a year would end up in the ocean if garbage management practices remain the same. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2015/02/150212-ocean-debris-plastic-garbage-patches-science/
“China Says It’s Done Taking Our Garbage” (7/18/17) http://gcaptain.com/china-says-done-taking-garbage/ “China is a major importer of waste. Last year it imported 7.3 million tonnes of waste plastics, valued at $3.7 billion, accounting for 56 percent of world imports.
Apart from Hong Kong, the biggest sources of that plastic waste were Japan and the United States, which accounted for roughly 10 percent of the volume each, according to data from the International Trade Centre, a United Nations-WTO joint venture.
…China’s speedy industrial development has seen it struggling to regulate waste disposal, leading to toxic waterways and cities blanketed in smog.
China plans to conduct a nationwide survey of pollution sources, and has urged local authorities to speed things up by launching local investigations by the end of July, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Monday.”