The study shows that there are more than 171 trillion particles currently floating in the ocean, and that number will triple in just 17 years.
For decades, scientists and environmentalists have been screaming that the ocean is literally suffocating plastic – tiny particles have long been found in the stomachs and viscera of marine inhabitants, and whales are dying from suffering due to the tons of garbage thrown out. ocean, writes the BBC.
To compile their assessment of ocean plastic pollution, a team of scientists analyzed records collected from 1979 to the present during expeditions that swept the ocean with specialized plastic collection nets. Scientists then count the collected plastic and add it to a mathematical model to get a global estimate of ocean pollution.
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The lead author of the study, Dr. Dr. from the 5 Gyres Institute. According to Markus Eriksen, scientists found, for example, that in 2005 the density of plastic in the ocean reached 16 trillion pieces. At the same time, scientists discovered that plastic pollution has gotten worse since then – there are now more than 171 trillion pieces of plastic floating in the ocean. And over time, the stats will get worse. Thus, a mathematical model predicts that if nothing is done, in just 17 years, the amount of plastic will triple, or exceed 500 trillion pieces.
Scientists note that today both recently discarded plastic and old plastic that has already been broken or damaged are drifting in the ocean. Among the most common items found are:
- disposable tableware;
- plastic bottles;
- fishing equipment;
- other items.
All this garbage that enters the ocean eventually breaks down into smaller pieces, which is facilitated by sunlight or mechanical damage. However, complete weathering will take a very long time, and marine life is already suffering. For example, whales, seabirds, turtles, and fish often mistake plastic for prey, as a result of which their stomachs become clogged with garbage and the animals starve to death in terrible agony because they cannot empty their stomachs.
Researchers warn that humanity should seriously consider protecting the ocean because humans are also in danger: first, plastic gets into our drinking water, second, it’s already found in a person’s lungs, veins and placenta, and third, when we consume seafood, for example, we absorb it with food.
At the same time, science still doesn’t know enough about how microplastics affect human health. Dr. Eriksen notes that until 2005, the concentration of plastic in the ocean fluctuated smoothly, but has only seen a record increase since then and continues to grow.
According to Professor Richard Thompson of the University of Plymouth, who was not involved in the study, these results only confirm what researchers already know – the ocean is full of plastic and it’s time to clean up ourselves.
It is known that the highest concentration of plastic has been observed in the North Atlantic Sea, and some large masses may be found elsewhere, including the Great Pacific Landfill. The study’s authors point out that governments need to make a number of decisions that will not only clean up the ocean, but also reduce the amount of plastic produced and used.
Previously Focus He wrote that after years of conflict, one-third of international waters was recognized as a protected area.
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