How plastic waste will take over our Earth by mid century

 

Andrea Gonzalez

Through Anthropocene study researchers discovered that due to the immense amounts of plastic waste accumulated our oceans and lands we will have multiple layers of plastic. Researchers are beginning to refer to it as the “Age of Plastic.” This is because human activity, such as the production of plastic permanently changed the surface of the planet, and therefore, humans are “dominating the Earth’s surface geology”. A Professor from the University of Leicesters Department of Geology further explained that “Plastics were more or less unknown to our grandparents, when they were children. But now, they are indispensible to our lives.” For example, most of our food and water comes wrapped in plastic, even our clothes are  made up of it.

The reason plastic is rapidly accumulating is because plastic has a very long lasting impact, in other words it takes very very long to degrade. Therefore, when plastic finds its way onto a landscape it gradually becomes integrated with the soil and then goes into our oceans. As a result, it is consumed by and kills many plankton, fish and seabirds. Not only this, but plastics travel thousands of miles eventually getting caught in the “great oceanic garbage patches” or end up at our shores. Plastic can also sink onto the sea floor and become part of the layer for the future.

Something I found very interesting from the article is when Professor Zalasiewicz stated “Once buried, being so hard-wearing, plastics have a good chance to be fossilized — and leave a signal of the ultimate convenience material for many million years into the future. The age of plastic may really last for ages.” To think of plastic as a “fossil” is definitely strange and intriguing.

 

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