United Nations Tackles Ocean Plastic Pollution

GR:  There is growing realization that waste plastics including everything from packaging to the microfiber fabrics used in clothing, are harming wild plants and animals. An earlier petition campaign and many other reports have finally been heard. It’s good to see the UN tackling the problem.

un-env-leader-erik-solheim

Erik Solheim, head of UN Environment

“BALI, Indonesia, February 26, 2017 (ENS) – An unprecedented global campaign to eliminate major sources of marine litter within five years was launched this week by UN Environment, the United Nations agency formerly known as UNEP. The campaign is targeting microplastics in cosmetics and single-use plastics such as straws, bags and packaging materials.

SolheimUN Environment chief Erik Solheim of Norway (Photo courtesy World Bank)

“It is past time that we tackle the plastic problem that blights our oceans, said Erik Solheim of Norway, the former Norwegian environment and development minister who now heads UN Environment. “Plastic pollution is surfing onto Indonesian beaches, settling onto the ocean floor at the North Pole, and rising through the food chain onto our dinner tables. We’ve stood by too long as the problem has gotten worse. It must stop.”

“Introduced at the Economist World Ocean Summit in Bali, the UN’s new #CleanSeas campaign is urging governments to adopt plastic reduction policies.

“Ten countries have already joined the campaign with far-reaching pledges to turn the plastic tide.

“Indonesia has committed to slash its marine litter by a massive 70 percent by 2025.

“Uruguay will tax single-use plastic bags later this year, and Costa Rica will take measures to reduce single-use plastic through better waste management and education.

“The campaign is targeting industry with the message that it’s important to minimize plastic packaging and redesign products, and is calling on consumers to change their throwaway habits before irreversible damage is done to the oceans.

This Laysan albatross died from dehydration or starvation after swallowing plastics at sea. Laysan is one of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in the Pacific Ocean. On nearby Midway Atoll, some 200,000 albatross chicks die each year from consuming plastics that block or perforate the stomach, esophagus or gizzard. (Photo by Duncan)

“Each year, more than eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the oceans, wreaking havoc on marine wildlife, fisheries and tourism, and costing at least $8 billion in damage to marine ecosystems. Up to 80 percent of all litter in the oceans is made of plastic – items such as plastic bottles, bags and cups.” –Environmental News Service (Continue reading:  – UN Campaigns to ‘Turn the Tide’ on Ocean Plastics | ENS.)

Plastic in the World’s Oceans–Recent Research

“At least 88 percent of the surface of the world’s open oceans is polluted by plastic debris, says a new scientific report. The findings raise large concerns of the safety of marine life and how this ocean litter may affect food chains.

“High concentrations of floating plastic debris have been reported in remote areas of the ocean, increasing concern about the accumulation of plastic litter on the ocean surface. Since the introduction of plastic materials in the 1950s, the global production of plastic has increased rapidly and will continue in the coming decades. However, the abundance and the distribution of plastic debris in the open ocean are still unknown, despite evidence of affects on organisms ranging from small invertebrates to whales. In this work, we synthetize data collected across the world to provide a global map and a first-order approximation of the magnitude of the plastic pollution in surface waters of the open ocean.

“Those little pieces of plastic, known as microplastics, can last hundreds of years and were detected in 88 percent of the ocean surface sampled during the Malaspina Expedition 2010,” lead researcher and the author of the study Andres Cozar from the University of Cadiz, told AFP.”

“The results of the study “Plastic debris in the open ocean” are based on 3,070 total ocean samples collected around the world by Spain’s Malaspina science expedition in 2010. They have been recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).”

“Ocean currents carry plastic objects which split into smaller and smaller fragments due to solar radiation,” says Cozar. “These micro plastics have an influence on the behavior and the food chain of marine organisms.”

“Cozar added that most of the impacts taking place due to plastic pollution in the oceans “are not yet known.”

Source: rt.com, PNAS

See more on this subject at:  SprinterLife

GR:  Every day the air, the rivers, and the barges carry our garbage out to sea.  Plastic might be the least harmful ingredient.