By: Shelby Wilson
Summary: We have all heard of pollution and know that it is affecting our oceans. We have taken a stand trying to reduce the amount of plastic straws and bags we use, but is that helping as much as we think it does? According to Sophie Lewis, a writer at CBS, plastic bags and straws account for less than 1% of the total oceans plastic. She also states that over 10 million tons of plastic ocean waste enters our oceans each year. Most of that plastic we can't even see. Most is taken to the deep ocean floor by currents. Just because we cannot see that plastic doesn't mean it still isn't there not only affecting us but all other organisms. If microplastics are not filtered correctly out of factories, they can easily enter the ocean and be absorbed by living organisms. Not only do microplastics have a huge impact on marine life, but it has an impact on all living organisms. After it has entered the food chain, those microplastics can end up on our dinner table. Researchers said the amount of plastic is so high, it has become part of the makeup of the ocean floor. Those microplastics were never a part of the makeup of the ocean floor before, and they shouldn't be now. Currently scientists have uncovered the highest amount of microplastics ever recorded. A very unsettling 1.9 million pieces. There are “hotspots” where most of these microplastics have settled. By tracking ocean currents, we can estimate where these microplastics may end up. These currents carry oxygen and nutrients needed for deep sea organisms to survive but are disrupted by the microplastics. Plastic pollution is happening everywhere on earth.
Why we should care? I believe we should care about this topic because we are the ones who made plastic and are most of the reason it has ended up in our oceans. We should take accountability for our own actions.
I found this article particularly interesting because of the numbers involved. I was unaware of how much microplastic was not only on the ocean floor but in the entirety of the ocean. When I read that 10 million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, I was in disbelief. I also found it interesting that plastic straws and bags only account for 1% of all that plastic. I feel that we need to broaden our view and not only focus on straws and bags. It is also clothes fibers and takeout containers. This article really opened my eyes to just how many microplastics are on the ocean floor and it is much worse than I could have ever thought.
Science in Action.
Dr. Ed Carpenter is a Professor in the Department of Biology at San Francisco State University.
Ed Carpenter researched that not only plastic bottles, bags and straws (all the mainstream plastic many people think of) is not the only factor contributing to the oceans microplastic problem at the seafloor. He researched the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean. He found that the plastic emitted into the ocean is affected by sunlight, wind and waves which all weakens the plastic and breaks it into smaller and smaller pieces. Along with breaking down bigger pieces of plastic, the beads that are in body scrubs and exfoliants products are also on the seafloor and are microplastics. I thought this scientist's research was very interesting because he mentions that when he was on a cruise he saw tiny white pieces of plastic floating in the ocean very far off shore and was shocked to see it. I believe that many people don't know just how bad the microplastic is and how badly it can affect everyone. We should be concerned for not only ourselves but our marine life and our plant.