The frightening scale of the plastic crisis: 4.9 MILLION tons of garbage are floating in our oceans
A new study has shed new light on the staggering extent of the global plastic crisis.
Researchers have found that up to 4.9 million tons of plastic waste are floating in our oceans – an “unprecedented increase” since 2005.
And without immediate action, they predict the rate at which plastics enter our waterways will increase a whopping 2.6-fold by 2040.
“This is a stark warning that we must act now on a global scale,” said Marcus Eriksen, co-founder and researcher at The 5 Gyres Institute.
“We need a strong, legally binding global UN treaty on plastic pollution that stops the problem at the source.”
A new study has shed new light on the staggering extent of the global plastic crisis
Researchers have found that up to 4.9 million tons of plastic waste are floating in our oceans – an “unprecedented increase” since 2005
In the study, the researchers analyzed a global dataset of ocean plastic pollution from 1979 to 2019.
Data was retrieved from 11,777 stations in six major marine regions in the North Atlantic, South Atlantic, North Pacific, South Pacific, India and Mediterranean.
Analysis of the data revealed a significant and rapid increase in both the occurrence and distribution of plastics since 2005.
Their estimates put 82-358 trillion pieces of plastic (171 trillion pieces on average) weighing between 1.1-4.9 million tons (2.3 million tons on average) floating in our oceans in 2019.
“We have observed an alarming trend of exponential growth of microplastics in the global ocean since the millennium, reaching over 170 trillion plastic particles,” said Eriksen.
While the reason for the increase from 2005 remains unclear, researchers have several theories.
“These observations may have been influenced by political intervention, plastic production, fragmentation of existing floating plastic, and/or waste management and trade,” they wrote in their study, published in PLOS ONE.
Worryingly, they warn that things could get worse unless drastic action is taken immediately.
“The increasing abundance of plastic in the OSL [ocean surface layer] calls for urgent international political intervention to minimize environmental, social and economic damage,” the team concluded.
In the study, the researchers analyzed a global dataset of ocean plastic pollution from 1979 to 2019
“We have observed an alarming trend of exponential growth of microplastics in global oceans since the millennium, reaching over 170 trillion plastic particles,” said Eriksen
“Without significant sweeping policy changes, the rate at which plastics enter the aquatic environment will increase approximately 2.6-fold from 2016 to 2040.”
Last year nearly 200 nations, including the United States and China, agreed to a new United Nations agreement that commits them to reducing plastic production by 2024.
The landmark agreement aims to prevent the “collapse of the planet’s ecosystem” from the spread of plastic and microplastic particles to every corner of the globe.
It’s the biggest green deal since the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement, which committed governments to limit greenhouse gas emissions and limit global warming.
Member states have been locked in talks for more than a week in Nairobi and have agreed on a framework agreement to curb plastic pollution – but the finer details have yet to be negotiated, including the size of the plastic production cuts needed.
Government officials cheered and thumped after adopting a resolution of the legally binding treaty to be completed by 2024.
“Plastic pollution has become an epidemic. With today’s resolution, we are on the way to a cure,” said Espen Barth Eide, President of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA).
https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-11835567/The-shocking-extent-plastic-crisis-4-9-MILLION-tonnes-rubbish-floating-oceans.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490&ito=1490 The frightening scale of the plastic crisis: 4.9 MILLION tons of garbage are floating in our oceans