Australia beaches buried under mountains of plastic
These last few months, Australia is facing a depressing spectacle. The Australian coastline, once renowned for its beauty and touristic attraction, are now totally devastated by all the rubbish dumped by the sea. Locals even refer to this phenomenon as a “Plastic Tsunami”, scientists, meanwhile, are overwhelmed by the event. However, the phenomenon is not only a tearful event to observe but also demonstrates the real face of pollution which is a reality that has long been ignored and neglected, the one of our oceans being overpolluted.
Where does the waste present in our oceans come from?
According to Reselyne Messal, journalist, it is 100 tones of garbage, mostly plastic, that end’s up in our oceans each second. Then, part of this waste is washed up on beaches, as is the case for Australia. In the ocean, the heavier objects sink to the bottom, whereas the lighter wastes and micro-particles of plastic float on the surface forming what is called the seventh continent. As stated by the UN the sea pollution is an alarming fact; if no relevant solution is found, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean in 2050.
All this plastic represents what dangers for the environment and biodiversity?
In addition to the visual impact, the presence of plastic in large quantities on beaches and in the sea cause many harmful effects. Firstly, plastic has the particularity to absorb pollutants present in the environment, making it a medium ideal to concentrate toxins and chemicals that are then transferred to organisms during their ingestion. Plastic is also responsible of an increase in animal mortality by poisoning them or imprisoning them. Finally, the presence of large amount of plastic in seas is responsible for the breakdown of the biological balance. Bacteria and insects cling to waste and are then transported as the current brings these invasive species into foreign areas.
What actions can we adopt to reduce sea pollution?
Industrial waste represents only a minority of the plastic presents in sea, whereas 80% of the rubbish comes from continents and current consumption. In Australia volunteers are spending months on end trying desperately to clean up.
On an international level some measures have been adopted today to combat marine pollution, such as the “Ocean Cleanup” project, the ban on stem cottons and microbeads, and the implementation of local monitoring of waste. But these actions remain too shy. “If we want change and we want the quantity of plastics going into the ocean to go down, then the rate of change in our society needs to exceed the rate of plastics going into the ocean,” says Dr Jennifer Lavers, a marine biologist. “And right now we are not even close.”