In the last ten years, there have been many changes when it comes to recycling and different types of techniques of how to properly dispose of trash. There are many different types of landfills and recycling centers. Ten years ago, when humans would dispose of something that they were done with, it went in the trash and that was the end of it. On top of that, it was all filtering into the oceans and causing the animals to ingest the trash, and consequently die.
I will be discussing what types of animals were affected the most during these last ten years and how we have changed how we dispose of our trash. Researchers have found ways to reuse certain materials that are in the things we dispose of. Many people are still trying to find ways that we can reduce the amount of trash we are creating by finding ways to reuse what we consider trash. The last thing that they have figured out is how to recycle our waste.
The dictionary defines recycling as, “to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse,” and with this process, we are slowly creating less and less waste that is being filtered into the oceans. Another thing that has become problematic within the oceans is just pollution in general. If one was to define pollution they would say, “the introduction of harmful substances or products into the environment” and this is not just referring to what is in our oceans.
This could mean what is being released into the air we breathe, could eventually be transported to the oceans and cause harm on the species within the water.
I will talk about the specifics of how exactly pollution is harmful to our oceans and the world. I will also speak on what changes we can make or continue to do to keep our oceans clean and free of any type of waste or debris. Talking about the oceans and how they have changed over the last ten years can be a very contradicting topic to talk about. Some people may agree that it has changed for the better and some will say that there has not been any changes at all. After doing extensive research on the topic I have determined that there has been a change. As humans we have always been taught to throw trash in the trash but more recently we have learned that some of our trash can be reused. By reusing some of what we believe is waste, we are save at least one animal from coming in contact with the harmful chemicals that are in plastic, aluminum, and any other substance. On top of that, some of the food we eat or the things we drink have chemicals in them that may be harmful to animals so throwing it in the trash may cause harm on an animal. In conclusion, humans should be more aware of what they are throwing in the trash and what they are sending to be recycled. We also need to understand the importance of our oceans, and just make a good habit turn into second nature, so we as mankind can continue to thrive and survive while still maintaining what resources we have.
Pollution in our oceans is a problematic issue in our world today, and a topic that should be discussed. The underlying issue is that now, it is directly harming marine life and indirectly affecting human health and the Earth’s many valuable resources. Ocean, or marine pollution is a very vague term that refers to any and all foreign substances that enter our oceans, whether on purpose or not. There are numerous form of ocean pollution that range from dumping and oil spills to our own negligence and littering. The ocean covers 75% of our Earth, produces half of the oxygen in our atmosphere & holds 97% of Earth’s water. This makes our ocean an obviously vital resource to our existence, it is easy to abuse, however, it is our duty as humans to educate ourselves on the matter. It’s way easier to think that we’re all fine, until we’re not. This issue cannot can get any worse. It is estimated that around one hundred thousand sea mammals die annually from marine pollution. There are over 700 million gallons of oil that is spilled into our ocean, annually. Most of that actually comes from our lakes & rivers, only some accounted actually are from oil rigs and tanker accidents. Some small steps have been taken to resolve, such as stricter regulations on dumping. Ocean dumping is just ridding of garbage, waste, sewage, and debris, into our waters. The main source of ocean dumping is sewage sludge, which is caused by cross contamination between storm drains and sewage pipes, flooded by heavy rainfall.
Farms use toxins; fertilizers, pesticides, chemicals, that contaminate water sources close (rivers, lakes), and are carried into oceans. This process is how most “dead zones” are created. In the Gulf of Mexico, there’s a “dead zone” in the Gulf of Mexico, that’s the size of New Jersey. Dead zones are areas in bodies of water that are low-oxygen and caused by “excessive nutrient pollution from human activities coupled with other factors that deplete the oxygen required to support most marine life in bottom and near-bottom water” (NOAA 2012). Dead zones, are not to be confused with garbage islands though, they both are found all around the world in our oceans, however, dead zones are smaller in scale. The Gulf of Mexico has the biggest dead zone, but is nothing in comparison to the sizes of garbage islands. Dead zones can also form naturally, while garbage islands are composed of all our garbage, and is our own fault. Dead zones that form naturally, are just very low in oxygen, too low to sustain all the life around it. This, subsequently, forces marine life in that area to either migrate, or just die. When the dead zones are formed by man, then they range larger- e.g. The Gulf of Mexico. These larger dead zones are extremely longer in duration. However in these cases, there is a steady supply of excess oxygen, which leads to “extreme allege blooms”. The allege will then die and sink down and it’s nutrients are consumed by said bacteria, as opposed to decomposing and feeding back into the environment. Garbage islands are a compilation of the world’s trash, with dead zones though, they are primarily at fault from the country that it resides in. Typically, these are usually farming countries.
In the Pacific Ocean, there is a floating garbage patch twice the size of Texas (The Great Pacific Garbage Patch), our biggest state. We are putting our marine life and ourselves in danger, exposing ourselves to too much pollution. Most people have heard the term; “garbage islands” at some point or another. The image that the majority portray, however, is incorrect. The sun continues to break down plastic particles, they continue to shrink into the size of fish, that are mistaken for food. When plastic is broken down, it releases toxins, which are then absorbed by plants and microorganisms. These plants and microorganisms then become contaminated, which are consumed by larger creatures that bring the toxins straight to us. Sea animals commonly often consume the plastic, which does not digest, leading to a “full” sensation, in which the creatures do not eat their proper food and die, due to malnutrition or starvation. Suffocation is another big problem with the plastic, the one that most associate with the plastic rings that come with packs of drinks. he reasoning behind the garbage conjoining and mass forming is mostly caused from the fact that, “most of the trash accumulated is not biodegradable”. Since oceans are international waters, there is no blame on any one country or nation, with that being said, not one country or nation feels obligated to take responsibility, or take action. (National Geographic 2014). Even though, this conflict raises problems for life ranging from humans, down to microplankton.
The toxins that plastics release are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Phthalates, and Bisphenol-A, which are very harmful to our own health. They can cause many issues, especially to pregnant women and youth. These toxins, can be the cause of problems relating to; abnormal sexual development, asthma, infertility, and premature breast development (NOAA 2018). Marine debris is accumulated, and about sixty to eighty percent is plastic pollution. Marine debris sinks into the seabed, leading to marine creatures to consume it. Sea creatures have been opened up for studies, which have determined the ingestion of plastic by sea creatures is increasing dramatically (Derraik 2002). One simple step we can take to trying to eliminate the most plastic as possible, is to handle our plastic bags with more care. Plastic bags are altering the marine habitats and polluting our food chain. Many grocery stores offer reusable bags that customers are more inclined to use, which are safer for our environment. Especially in states like California, where plastic bags are not offered for free any more in most major grocery stores. Another study that is also in the works- researchers are attempting to discover a way to revamp plastic bags to make them biodegradable and eco-friendly. A lot of us, myself included, choose plastic over paper when asked at the store. They’re just easier and provide many purposes after it’s initial use, the problem is we are just disposing of them properly. There are numerous organizations who raise awareness and do their part the best they can to help. In 2007, San Francisco banned “single-use” plastic bags at stores. Almost 90% of all litter is plastic, we must be held more accountable for ourselves, and society as a whole to pick up our trash and properly recycle it.
So the ocean covers seventy-five percent of our Earth, and holds ninety-seven percent of our water, which is undrinkable salt water, unless filtered. In the remaining three percent of Earth’s water, ⅔ is stuck in glaciers, and ice-caps. Twenty percent of the remaining third of fresh water, is used for industrial use and irrigation (Worldometers 2018). Our oceans actually absorb our body’s carbon dioxide that is released and accounts for one hundred and twenty-eight billion dollars of the Gross Domestic Product (The Nature Conservancy 2014). The ocean provides ingredients, and nutrients found in many of our medicines. Already, our water sources are finite. So taking that into consideration, we should be doing everything we can to conserve what we have, or at the very least, prevent our abundant source from being ruined by our own doing. Plastic producers should be held at a higher standard to make a greater effort to innovate new and improved products that are safer for our oceans. We also need to eliminate our littering, properly recycle and dispose of waste, and just overall limit our plastic usage. Pollution is slowly tearing away at our most important natural resource. Pollution also poses negative effects on our economy as we, along with other countries, have to pay for the expenses to clean our oceans. Millions of dollars are already being spent in attempt to restore and protect affected zones (NOAA 2016). It is vital for these tasks to be complete, otherwise serious issues can arise for boats when they are transporting goods. This can also be looked at as a negative, or a con, considering all that cost for only a small area, which still doesn’t 100% fix the lying issue. If measures were taken beforehand, however, the damage would cost tremendously less. That also applies to future instances and taking matters into our own hands now, while the crisis is still considered manageable.
So much money, time, and effort goes into our sea life research, and still we have only discovered a mere five percent of what lies beneath the water. There are many dangers that come with researching at such high-pressure and low depths. The ocean is responsible; for supplying water, being a home to wildlife, and providing a food supply, along with other essential ingredients we use in vaccines & medicine. Pollution is a never ending problem that continues to plague us and only gets worse each day. It’s gotten to a point of no return, but it is never too late to try and implement change. If we all focus on being better ourselves- whether it just be civilian and picking up after ourselves, or in our related jobs, it would be tremendously easier to keep track and manage the mess we have already created.