We have a plastic pollution problem and it can be seen all over the world. It is estimated that over 15 million metric tons of plastic find their way into the ocean every year, almost twice the 8 million from a decade ago. This gets combined with the almost 150 million metric tons that are already estimated to be floating there. This plastic can be found even at the deepest parts of our oceans and in some of the most remote locations on Earth.
A study to note
Recently, a report came out to show that at least 1,800 marine animals have been killed or ensnared by plastic in the last 10 years.
While 1,800 might seem like a small number, the reality is much grimmer. This report only showed the number of times plastic has seriously harmed marine animals in US waters from 2009 to 2019. This means that it did not check birds, land animals, or any other kind of animal that has been known to be harmed by plastic pollution.
"The world is hooked on plastic because the industry continues to find more ways to force this persistent pollutant into our everyday routines, and it is choking, strangling, and drowning marine life,” said Dr. Kimberly Warner, report author and senior scientist at Oceana.
“This report shows a wide range of single-use plastic jeopardizing marine animals, and it is not just the items that first come to mind, like bags, balloons, and bottle caps. These animals are consuming or being entangled in everything from zip ties and dental flossers to mesh onion bags people use at the grocery store. We can only expect these cases to increase as the industry continues to push single-use plastic into consumers’ hands.”
More about the report
The report was titled Choked, Strangled, Drowned: The Plastics Crisis Unfolding In Our Oceans and it is the first time evidence of the dangers of plastic pollution has been compiled in a single report. The report showed that of the 1800 animals found, 88% of them were endangered or threatened with extinction.
Most of these cases, 90%, were the result of plastic ingestion, such as sea turtles swallowing plastic bags. The other 10% included things such as being entangled in fishing nets.
Plastic pollution is an issue that is only growing in scale. There is believed to be more plastic in the oceans than there are fish. A statistic compounded by the mounting evidence showing that basically all fish that we consume is also contaminated with plastic.
The short video below discusses the impact plastic is having on our biosphere. For a longer and more in-depth look at this problem, the documentary, A Plastic Ocean (now on Netflix) is worth a watch as well.