We are damaging our environment and our wild & sea life additionally by the products derived from the oil industry. Plastics. Convenient, and easily disposed of without a second thought as to what happens to it after we toss it into the trash. I've been as guilty as any other for this behavior and I have tried to change that behavior, especially after seeing what our plastics and trash are doing to our world. When I started looking into it, I was brokenhearted at what I found and one question kept ringing in my head........
What have we done to our world?
What price are the creatures and our planet paying for our insatiable desire for convenience and our thoughtless treatment of the world we live in?
These photographs of albatross chicks were made just a few weeks ago on Midway Atoll, a tiny stretch of sand and coral near the middle of the North Pacific. The nesting babies are fed bellies-full of plastic by their parents,who soar out over the vast polluted ocean collecting what looks to them like food to bring back to their young. On this diet of human trash, every year tens of thousands of albatross chicks die on Midway from starvation, toxicity, and choking.
To document this phenomenon as faithfully as possible, not a single piece of plastic in any of these photographs was moved, placed, manipulated, arranged,or altered in any way. These images depict the actual stomach contents of baby birds in one of the world's most remote marine sanctuaries, more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.
Seeing these pictures turned my stomach, and I could not "click away" from the page fast enough, but then I stopped and thought about it. Leaving the page so quickly is what a lot of people like myself would do, after all who wants to view these kinds of pictures? It is much more fun to see pictures of cuddly and warm fuzzy animals rather than seeing the death and destruction we humans have brought down upon the creatures of our planet.
Yes OUR planet. We all live here. We, who are the most intelligent species on this planet have a responsibility to take care of it and we have been sorely lacking in that responsibility.
Scientists had previously thought plastics broke down only at very high temperatures and over hundreds of years.
The researchers behind a new study, however, found that plastic breaks down at cooler temperatures than expected, and within a year of the trash hitting the water.
The Japan-based team collected samples in waters from the U.S., Europe, India, Japan, and elsewhere, lead researcher Katsuhiko Saido, a chemist with the College of Pharmacy at Nihon University in Japan, said via email.
All the water samples were found to contain derivatives of polystyrene, a common plastic used in disposable cutlery, Styrofoam, and DVD cases, among other things, said Saido, who presented the findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., today.
Plastic, he said, should be considered a new source of chemical pollution in the ocean.
About 44 percent of all seabirds eat plastic, apparently by mistake, sometimes with fatal effects. And 267 marine species are affected by plastic garbage—animals are known to swallow plastic bags, which resemble jellyfish in mid-ocean, for example—according to a 2008 study in the journal Environmental Research by oceanographer and chemist Charles Moore, of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation.
Just plastic bags:
Giant Ocean-Trash Vortex Attracts Explorers
How Stuff Works; The Great Pacific Garbage Patch
What have we done?
Study finds plastic 'diet' in leatherback turtles
Necropsy reports show a third of specimens had it in their digestive system
Leatherback turtles are critically endangered and highly charismatic creatures. They are big, weighing 1,000 pounds or more, with shells that can measure more than 6 feet across. These peaceful creatures have had the same basic body plan for 150 million years.
Leatherbacks are also popular for what they eat: namely, large quantities of jellyfish. The problem is that plastic bags look a lot like jellyfish, and plastic often ends up in the oceans, piling up in areas where currents -- and turtles -- converge. That led James to wonder how much often the turtles were swallowing plastic in their hunt for yummy jellyfish.
The researchers ended up with a sample size of 408 turtles, stranded at some point during the last 125 years. Of those, 138 -- or 34 percent -- contained plastic. Alongside the rise in plastic production, there has been a sharp rise in plastic-containing turtles since the 1950s.
Plastic can block a turtle's gut, causing bloating, interfering with digestion, and leading to a slow, painful death. "I can't imagine it's very comfortable," he said. "Their guts weren't designed to digest plastic."
Leatherback turtles are ancient creatures with a modern problem: Plastic.
Is anyone trying to do anything other than those "pesky" environmentalists who are consistently demonized in the media and by some politicians?
Date: Sept. 19, 2008
Contacts: Jennifer Walsh, Media Relations Officer
Luwam Yeibio, Media Relations Assistant
Office of News and Public Information
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARINE DEBRIS WILL LIKELY WORSEN IN THE 21ST CENTURY;
GOAL OF ZERO WASTE DISCHARGE SHOULD BE ADOPTED
WASHINGTON -- Current measures to prevent and reduce marine debris are inadequate, and the problem will likely worsen, says a new congressionally mandated report from the National Research Council. The United States and the international maritime community should adopt a goal of "zero discharge" of waste into the marine environment, and a system to assess the effectiveness of existing and future marine debris prevention and reduction actions should be implemented. In addition, better leadership, coordination, and integration of mandates and resources are needed, as responsibilities for preventing and mitigating marine debris are scattered across federal organizations and management regimes.
"The committee found that despite all the regulations and limitations over the last 20 years, there are still large quantities of waste and litter in the oceans," said Keith Criddle, chair of the committee that wrote the report and the Ted Stevens Distinguished Professor of Marine Policy at the Juneau Center for Fisheries and Ocean Science, University of Alaska, Fairbanks. "We concluded that the United States must take the lead and coordinate with other coastal countries, as well as with local and state governments, to better manage marine debris and try to achieve zero discharge."
A National Research Council committee was convened at the request of Congress to assess the effectiveness of international and national measures to prevent and reduce marine debris and its impact. Marine debris, man-made materials that intentionally or accidentally enter and pollute the ocean, can cause significant harm. For instance, birds, fish, and marine mammals ingest debris, especially plastics, which can lead to digestive problems and uptake of toxic compounds. Animals can also suffer injuries or die after becoming entangled in fishing-related debris such as plastic net fragments, rope, and packing straps. Marine debris also poses a health and safety hazard to beachgoers and divers, and could impact coastal recreation and tourism revenue. While marine debris comes from sources both on land and at sea, the committee focused on debris discharged at sea for the purposes of this report.
Although Congress previously called for federal interagency coordination to address the marine debris problem, leadership and governance remain inefficient and current mitigation efforts are episodic and crisis driven, the committee found. A national framework to identify priorities for dealing with marine debris and its removal efforts should be established. Additionally, Congress should designate a lead agency to expand programs to comprehensively address the problem, including land-based marine litter, derelict fishing gear, shipborne waste, and abandoned vessels.
The rest of the Press Release can be read here which also provides a link to the full report itself (it is in book form at it is well over 200 pages long).
What can we do?
- Some centers require you to wash items or remove labels or lids. Find out what your center requires before making the trip.
- Try to avoid making special trips in your car to recycle, as you will be using fuel unnecessarily. Combine it with a trip you are making anyway.
- If you are in school or at work where you use a lot of paper and then throw it away, try having a recycling bin under your desk, or a recycling pocket in your file. Make a mental note to put all recyclable paper in there each time you feel like heading for the normal trash bin.
- Don't just think of the normal items you can recycle, do some research and expand it. Some things you might be able to recycle easily are:
- Batteries (very important)- car batteries, equipment batteries, flashlight
- Beer and wine bottles, jars, other glass items
- Paper and plastic bags (reuse first if possible)
- Magazines, newspapers, phone-books
- Plastic bottles, plastic containers
- Packing peanuts (plastic loose fill) can often be recycled at local postal services. You can locate one at http://www.loosefillpackaging.com/
- Cans and tins
- Juice/soup/milk cartons
- Any items with recycle symbol on them
- Cell phones
- Old televisions
- Old computers
- It is vital to separate the magazines glass cardboard etc and it is especially good to recycle styrofoam because it is one of the things that take FOREVER to decompose
Do what you can, for every little bit helps, and we need to start paying attention to what we are doing to this planet and all of the others who inhabit it besides "man". They have as much right to live here as we do, and we need to ensure that we are not causing their destructions simply as a matter of convenience for ourselves. We will reach a point of no return and we need to stop this before it gets to that breaking point for ourselves as well as the planet and its other inhabitants.