Why is Plastic Pollution A Threat?
The world has changed significantly in the past 35 years. An incomprehensible amount of plastic has been produced, used and discarded, much of it ending up in the environment. There it produces an ingestion or entanglement threat or slowly breaks down into microplastics which in many cases are carcinogenic, hormone deregulators.
Based on hard, scientific evidence done by interns at Seal Rescue Ireland, we can confirm that 100% of wild herring caught contained microplastics and 77.5% of scat samples from our common seals contained at least one microplastic. This research is supported by thousands of localised studies regard microplastic content in a vast number of marine, freshwater and terrestrial species. O.M. Lönnstedt & P. Eklöv evidenced that in some fish, “exposure to environmentally relevant concentrations of microplastic polystyrene particles (90 micrometres) inhibits hatching, decreases growth rates, and alters feeding preferences and innate behaviours”. This is extremely worrying, and may cause massive disruption the natural balance of freshwater and marine ecosystems.
An international waste management study estimated between 4.8 and 12.7 million metric tons of waste entered the ocean in 2010 alone. A seal at Seal Rescue Ireland died following the ingestion of a single crisp packet, can we truly understand to immense destruction caused by the amount of plastic we are pouring into our precious oceans?
Our production and consumption of plastic must significantly change from the bottom-up and top-down. We must pressure industries to stop producing so much plastic and in turn, use our purchasing power to support local, plastic free products. Targeting economic profit may be the only way to shift power away from big corporations they are responsible for the production of all this waste.
To be continued…
Read more with National Geographic Magazine
Feature image Copyright: AURORA PHOTOS/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO