In the years after the industrial revolution, humans have made very rapid progress in most aspects of life. However, one important thing that society has not handled very well is getting rid of waste. The oceans have suffered greatly from poor waste management.
Why is There So Much Waste?
As humans, our activities and societies create waste. It is part of our nature. Unfortunately, much of the waste that we produce has ended up in our oceans. For centuries, the standard practice for removing waste from a city has been either dumping it in landfills or any available waterways. Almost all flowing waterways on earth lead to the ocean.
When most of the waste from human settlements was organic, dumping it in rivers was not much of a problem. Most of the waste degraded naturally and did not affect the ecosystem. However, in the last century, one single form of human waste has become prevalent. That is, of course, plastic. This material does not degrade, cannot be incinerated without polluting the air we breathe, and we produce hundreds of millions of tons of it every year. Much of that is single-use plastic, to be discarded afterward. And millions of pieces of that plastic end up in the ocean.
How Does Plastic Affect the Oceans?
The effects of plastic waste on the world’s oceans is an issue that has been extensively studied for decades. When conservationists first began to speak up about it, their worries were brushed off. In recent years, the effects have become too obvious to ignore. Here are some of the short-term and long-term effects:
Marine animals get caught up in large pieces of plastic like fishing lines or paper bags. Turtles, fish, and dolphins have been caught in such waste and grown into them, slowly being strangled to death.
This is one of the biggest dangers to sea life. Ingestion of plastic has been documented in all kinds of marine life, from dolphins to sharks and whales. The animals may feel full on plastic but will slowly starve.
· Toxic Contamination
Not all plastic in the ocean is visible. After months, plastics break down into microfibers. This material is still not degradable, and it filters into the stomachs, gills, and bloodstreams of marine animals, slowly poisoning them.
What Can Be Done?
The oceans are very large, and a lot of damage has already been done. In the last few decades, efforts to save the oceans from plastic waste have been ongoing. Due to the natural flow of ocean currents, most of the plastic waste floating in the oceans is gathered into five distinct “patches”. While these patches are not small by any means, clearing them up is a better prospect than plastic loosely scattered all over the ocean.
Organizations such as CleanHub have undertaken conservation efforts to combat plastic pollution in the oceans. Studies on how to clean up the oceans have identified concentrating efforts on the waste patches as the quickest and most effective way of removing the plastic. In addition, efforts to stem the flow of nutrients into the oceans from the world’s rivers are ongoing.
Article Submitted By Community Writer