It is no secret that a lot of plastic is going into the world’s oceans. It is coagulating into great floating “garbage patches” that cover large swaths of the Pacific.
The garbage washed up on urban beaches and remote islands tossed about in the waves and transported across incredible distances before arriving, unwanted, back on the land. It has wound up in the stomachs of more than half the world’s sea turtles and nearly all of its marine birds, studies say. If we were to bag it all up and spread it across the shoreline, we could build a veritable plastic barricade between ourselves and the sea.
The truth is, if we keep producing and failing to properly dispose of plastics at predicted rates, plastics in the ocean will outweigh fish pound for pound in 2050, the nonprofit foundation said in a report.
Worldwide use of plastic has increased 20-fold in the past 50 years. By 2050, we will be making more than three times as much plastic stuff as we did in 2014.
Humans do a horrible job of making sure those products are reused or otherwise disposed of: About a third of all plastics produced escape collection systems, only to wind up floating in the sea or the stomach of some unsuspecting bird. That amounts to about 8 million metric tons a year, or as Jenna Jambeck of the University of Georgia to the WAPO in February, “Five bags filled with plastic for every foot of coastline in the world.”
If the people of today do not start taking care of the world, there will not be a world left for the people of tomorrow.