15 Apr '12, 10pm
The Problem with Plastic: Lightweight, Durable and Deadly
Plastic is light-weight and long-lasting; the same qualities that make it useful also make it a scourge when it is released in huge amounts into the environment . Some 10 million tons (20 billion pounds) of plastic enters the ocean each year, where it swirls and circulates for decades without breaking down. The plastic is swept by currents into enormous vortices, such as the so-call Pacific Garbage Patch, a stretch of ocean the size of Texas containing six pounds of plastic for every pound of plankton. Marine birds, mammals and sea creatures consume the plastic and the chemicals are passed along the food chain, killing and poisoning creatures at every step. The plastic doesn’t all float. Greenpeace reports that about 70 percent of it sinks to the bottom, where it litters the sea floor, further disturbing marine life and health.