There are 40 kilograms of plastic in the whale’s stomach: Marine pollution is much more serious than you think
Recently, a young whale in the Philippines ran aground and died. 40 kg of plastic waste was found in its stomach. The news soon went on a hot search, and the pollution of marine garbage aroused attention again.
The huge garbage belt on the sea is well known, but these are only visible to the naked eye. There are still a lot of garbage that has been decomposed into ” microplastics” that enter the food chain and even the human body.
Visible is shocking, there are many invisible
It is no secret that all kinds of garbage are floating in the oceans all over the world. The Pacific garbage belt known as the ” eighth continent” and the corpses of whales, turtles and albatrosses full of garbage in their stomachs are telling us how serious the pollution of marine plastics is.
People also know that the problem is worsening. Every year, the number of plastic bags consumed worldwide is 500 billion. Every minute, the world sells 1 million plastic bottles, but only 9% of the plastic produced in the world can be recycled … The United Nations Environment Programme said that if there were no restrictions, there would be more plastic waste in the ocean than fish by 2050.
The bad news is that what people can see is probably only the ” tip of the iceberg”. Many plastic wastes have been decomposed into ” microplastics”-tiny plastic fragments or particles less than 5mm in length.
Some people may ask, plastic is insoluble in water, how can it be decomposed? This is because the sunlight on the sea makes them fragile. Coupled with the action of water flow and waves, these plastic wastes are like shredders, and their volume becomes smaller and smaller.
In addition to the micro-plastic formed by decomposition, micro-plastic particles will be added to some cosmetics, skin care products and bathing products to improve the texture. During the washing of chemical fiber textiles, some micro-plastic particles will be washed out and enter the waste water. Most of these micro-plastics will also be discharged into the marine environment along with rivers and sewage treatment plants.
The amount of microplastics is huge. According to UN estimates, there are about 51 trillion plastic particles in the world’s oceans, 500 times the number of stars in the Milky Way.
Some scholars said that although the distribution of microplastics in the world’s oceans is not yet known, studies have shown that microplastics exist in seawater, sediments, beaches, biological media, and even in the North and South Poles. The ” PM2.5″ in these oceans has caused many experts’ worries.
These invisible microplastics have entered the human body.
Experts are worried that these microplastics will not only affect marine ecology, but also affect human health. These plastic particles are similar in volume to the smallest plankton, which forms the largest plankton community and is located at the bottom of the food chain.
At present, microplastics have been found in many marine organisms. Professor Li Daoji of East China Normal University pointed out that since there are many additives in plastics, some of them are toxic, while microplastics also have strong adsorbability, which can adsorb other harmful substances and release them into the environment. Misfeeding of organisms will lead to population decline, invasion of exotic species, spread of pathogenic bacteria and other issues.
As the top human in the food chain, microplastics have also been found in the body. In October 2018, at the European Union Gastroenterology Association held in Vienna, researchers reported that for the first time as many as 9 kinds of microplastics with diameters between 50 and 500 microns were detected in human feces.
This study confirms the conjecture that microplastics will eventually enter the human body. At present, some studies have shown that microplastics can affect the health of marine organisms, but whether or not microplastics pose a health threat to human beings and to what extent are they still unclear.
However, the potential harm of microplastics entering the human body cannot be ignored. It is important to know that these microplastics can continue to decompose. In addition, these plastics may contain some chemicals during the manufacturing process. Professor Frank Carey of King’s College London said, ” When the concentration is sufficient, these chemicals can harm or even kill cells. Cells may or may not be successfully replaced, and proteins and DNA may be damaged. “
To reduce plastic waste, enterprises should bear more responsibilities.
Don’t blame scientists for being cautious. The concept of microplastics was put forward in 2004. The problems brought about by microplastics have only received attention in recent years, and the impact on human health is still under study. However, the harm of plastic pollution has long been known, and now it is entirely possible to start operations.
When it comes to environmental pollution, it is precisely under the guidance of this concept that we most often hear about raising public awareness of environmental protection that China has issued a ” plastic restriction order”. However, the plastic restriction order has been implemented for 10 years. As a result, plastic bags are still everywhere and the plastic restriction order exists in name only.
In fact, there are three parties involved in the matter of plastic pollution: citizens, government and enterprises. In the past, the responsibilities of citizens and the government have been stressed a lot, but the responsibilities of plastic production and product packaging enterprises have been neglected intentionally or unintentionally.
Marcus Eriksson, founder of the ” Five Circulation Research Institutes”, once cited such an example. In 1971, a public welfare organization in the United States once shot a short film on environmental protection-a large piece of garbage was thrown from a car driving on a highway. Looking at the pile of garbage, Indians were flooded.
Eriksson believes that this short film will make people feel that the public should shoulder the responsibility of cleaning up the rubbish while the municipal authorities should bear the necessary expenses. The product manufacturer, which has not been mentioned at all, has instead become the direct beneficiary of such short films (none of my business).
Some plastic manufacturers and product manufacturers do not intend to take much responsibility. In 2018, Eriksson visited the world’s largest polyethylene supplier. The company’s advice on controlling plastic pollution is to let people around the world collect film packaging more effectively and use it to produce energy.
This obviously shifts the responsibility for garbage disposal to individuals and finance.
In fact, many scholars pointed out that in order to control the pollution of plastic waste, the relevant enterprises need to take responsibility most, that is, to implement a strict producer responsibility extension system (to extend the producer’s resource and environmental responsibility for their products from the production link to the whole life cycle of product design, circulation and consumption, recycling, waste disposal, etc.), so that enterprises can bear the corresponding environmental costs.
This is not an unreasonable requirement for the enterprise, and the logic behind it is not to increase the burden on the enterprise. Instead, it is to encourage the enterprise to make positive changes in product design, supply chain management and recycling, to adopt pollution-free alternative products, and finally to realize the reduction of plastic waste and the maximization of self-interest and public welfare.
” Everyone has a responsibility to protect the environment” is true, but ” people” here should include not only natural persons but also enterprise legal persons.