The plastic things that we use everyday are of course convenient
and extraordinarily cheap to produce.
But what happens after we use them?
According to researchers, mankind produces so much plastic garbage
that it would be possible to cover the entire
coastal area of the world with sacks of the stuff.
Unfortunately, a major portion of this refuse ends up in the ocean.
This floating garbage is unevenly distributed.
Currents and winds caused it to accumulate in particular parts of the oceans.
Gradually the plastic that has arrived on our shores is surrounding entire continents.
The latest garbage accumulation found in the late ’90s
is in the northern part of the Pacific Ocean
and is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
According to various estimates,
the mass of this waste is up to 100 million tons and the patch area
is anywhere from 270,000 to 579,000 square miles.
That’s about 1.5 million square kilometers.
It’s difficult to determine more accurate dimensions,
as all of this is in and under the water.
But for comparison,
the size of Madagascar is about 193,000 square miles.
That’s a half million square kilometers.
And Greenland is 772,000 square miles.
That’s about 2 million square kilometers.
In other words, this patch is somewhere between the size of Madagascar and Greenland.
Not bad for a pile of rubbish, right?
But we’re just getting started.
This amazing record could be beaten by
a patch off the coast of Chile, discovered in 2016.
1/5 of this waste of which this newly formed island consists is
tossed overboard from passing ships.
The rest is runoff from sewers and waterways along the shores.
Calculations of environmentalists vary, but there is one estimate that
as much as 8 million tons of plastic enters the Earth’s oceans every year.
This is about 3% of the total of all of the world’s waste.
Asian countries are considered to be the main polluters,
primarily China where industry is booming to the detriment of the environment
and to which not much attention is paid.
New continents might be considered a good thing,
especially for big thinkers who believe our planet is suffering from overpopulation.
But plastic in the ocean is really a huge problem
and it’s not a matter of aesthetics.
Pieces of garbage carried by waves under the influence of sunlight become fragile
and when colliding with rocks, ship hulls or pieces of other debris,
easily break into smaller and smaller fragments.
Birds and sea creatures swallow these tiny pieces of plastic thinking it’s food.
In the best case, the foreign object will pass through the animals’ gut.
But in other cases, it can kill the animal or remain in the body.
We don’t know what happens to a living creature
in whose stomach the plastic hangs around for years.
It might release a small amount of poisonous substances
and poison the poor animal’s body.
Poisons can also reach other living beings, including humans along the food chain,
especially if, for example, a pack of commercial fish feeds in a littered area.
Moreover the plastic itself can absorb poisonous substances, such as mercury.
This is not just a matter of toxic danger however.
Sea animals can become enmeshed in scraps of fishing nets and other wastes,
and also become entangled in polyethylene products,
such as plastic bags and tapes.
At the same time, due to the debris,
the water surface reflectivity and light permeability changes,
affecting inhabitants of the lower layers.
Over time, the problem will only increase.
According to some estimates, the total mass of plastic in the ocean
will reach that of the total mass of all fish in the ocean by the middle of the century.
There are two obvious solutions to this problem.
One, to find ways to purify the water of the debris that is already in it.
And two, to reduce the rate of pollution,
or ideally to stop it altogether,
perhaps by moving to the use of biodegradable plastics.
The first approach is a favorite of many environmentalists,
but there are also some interesting possibilities and works for
the secondary use of nondegradable plastic.
There are new kinds of utensils and containers,
building materials and even fabric created from used plastic.
But this requires a sustained effort in the separate collection of garbage,
using aggressive consumer sorting and distribution to processing plants.
But it can work.
In Japan, for example, the Kansai International Airport
and a metallurgical plant are built on artificial islands of garbage.
And in Tokyo Bay, Yumenoshima or “Dream Island”
is an artificial island made from waste landfill
and includes a park, a stadium, a museum
and beautiful giant tropical greenhouse domes among other things.
So they were able to dispense with millions of tons of garbage.
They made it toxicologically safe
and they increased the size of the country. Not bad.
A similar project has been implemented in Singapore.
A garbage island there has been planted with trees
and the ecological situation surrounding it is quite favorable,
and has become rather popular among local fishermen.
A team put together by an heir to the famous Rothschild dynasty
was able to travel from San Francisco to Australia
on a yacht made from plastic bottles.
And the ship with honour withstood the mighty ocean’s test.
Designers and architects are constructing entire buildings using plastic waste.
These are however rather conceptual constructions
that do more to draw attention to the problem than solve it.
There are also several projects in the pipeline to cleanse the oceans
using contraptions that would capture the waste already in the water,
without disturbing the marine inhabitants.
The growth of garbage patches is also being checked
with the help of prohibitive measures.
In some countries and states, it’s now forbidden to
give customers free plastic bags in supermarkets.
And there are bans on disposable utensils made from nondegradable plastic.
The problem is that it’s not particularly easy
to make plastic that is both eco-friendly
and at the same time can withstand temperature extremes,
such as going through a microwave cycle
or simply sitting in a refrigerator for a period of time.
And even if we can find an optimal solution for such production,
it’s always possible that the manufacturing process itself
could create more environmental problems than an innocuous plastic island.
But we can replace much of this stuff
with a variety of different biodegradable plastics
made from such things as starch, cellulose and other similar materials.
Common polyethylene plastic bags can be replaced with those made from starch.
They do easily decompose, but unfortunately
can, at this point, carry only a small load.
There are also biodegradable bags made by the Oxo company.
During the manufacture of the polyethylene,
substances are added that accelerate the plastics decomposition.
Then just simple heat and ultraviolet light
can turn a plastic bag into a small amount of debris,
and then microbes in the soil complete the biodegradation process
in a matter of just a couple of years.
There is biodegradable packaging that can crumble into dust
during a short period of between 1 to 5 years.
But again this requires the right perfect conditions.
For example, composting, contact with water and ultraviolet light.
But in general, the prospects for this industry clearly do exist.
Here’s something interesting.
There have been a number of statements in the press that
the amount of garbage is actually much lower than what scientists say.
So either it is disappearing somehow or the scientists are lying.
So, which is it?
Well, indeed there is the possibility that
the plastics in the ocean are breaking up into such extremely small particles
that they can no longer be seen in the water,
or perhaps the debris is sinking to the bottom of the oceans
along with the fish that swallowed it and died,
or maybe marine dwellers get snagged by chunks of garbage
and are dragged down under the weight.
We know that some of the garbage gets frozen
in the ice of the Arctic and Antarctic,
and some is carried back ashore onto beaches, for example.
Some rocks recently appeared in Hawaii
that turned out to be partially made of plastic.
Heated plastics bind together grains of sand,
pebbles, shells and other natural materials.
In this case, it’s possible to distinguish little broken things
小块垃圾 例如牙刷 玩具和其他类似的东西
like toothbrushes, toys and other such things embedded in the conglomeration.
But there is however a more optimistic possibility.
Until now, it was believed that human made polymers couldn’t
be consumed or biodegraded by any of the inhabitants of our dear planet.
But one more modern view holds that
the mysterious disappearance of debris in the ocean
may be due to colonies of bacteria that have learned somehow
that if they cannot consume and destroy the plastic,
they can nevertheless crush it into smaller and smaller pieces.
True, this view has not yet received widespread acceptance
and the life and whereabouts of these plastic particles is still unexplained,
even after this grinding down.
More recently, it turned out that at least one insect
has learned to deal with at least polyethylene.
The larvae of a common pest called wax moths are able to
eat a hole in a plastic bag in a mere 40 minutes.
This was a chance discovery by a biologist named Federica Bertocchini,
who, when studying the creatures,
cleaned out one of the beehives that they had invaded,
and put the detested pests into a plastic bag.
Later she looked at the bag and saw
that they had eaten a bunch of holes in it.
A later experiment showed that a hundred wax moth caterpillars could break down
92 milligrams of polyethylene in just half an hour.
Ethylene glycol is the byproduct,
normally a poisonous substance, but it does not harm the moths.
Moreover, even regular polyethylene products
were shown to be decomposed by the moth larvae.
Scientists now intend to isolate the enzyme
that the insect synthesizes naturally and then artificially recreated.
How it all works is that it turns out
polyethylene is similar in structure to beeswax.
And for these pests that move into beehives,
eating beeswax is their usual routine.
This ability shown by the wax moth larvae is especially relevant,
given that polyethylene accounts for about
40% of the world’s plastic garbage founded dumps.
Perhaps nature really will learn how to cope with polymers,
much as it coped with the at first indigestible cellulose
from trees 400 million years ago.
The first trees were once completely inedible for bacteria and fungi.
It was 400 million years ago, an environmental disaster
as dead trees littered the world.
But they are now easily composed down into mere dirt.
So we can draw such an optimistic conclusion.
It’s our duty to assist nature as best we can,
at the very least, for our own health and comfort.
It’s not so difficult to be conscious of the fate of a discarded thing.
To bring a cloth bag, instead of taking a plastic one to a store.
To reuse that bag many times,
and to not get carried away using disposable plates, packaging and utensils,
and to use paper products in their place when you can.
Separating refuse by type helps the planet.
And using energy-saving lightbulbs and solar cells
significantly reduces the total impact on the environment.
Land that is given over to landfills is difficult to return to normal
and even a single discarded plastic bag or soda bottle
can spoil one’s impression of a picturesque panorama.
We have learned to keep our bodies and our homes cleaned.
The next step should be the purity of the planet.
Don’t wait for your neighbors, friends and family to act first.
It truly all begins with you.
What will be if we wrap you around and round with Scotch tape,
throw the whole package into a microwave oven, roast it quite well.
Feed that to a giant hungry whale, after that, drown you in the ocean.
then bury you alive, send you into space,
then let you drop back down to earth, straight to the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
After that, take you out and dry under a nightmare lightning storm.
为你穿衣打扮 梳头洗脸 然后绑在一架飞机上
Dress you up, comb you out, stick you onto a plane,
climb to a height of 30,000 feet,
and toss you out once more,
where you plummet back down to the unyielding surface,
of course without a parachute.
What will happen then?
Let’s ask Arnold. How are you feeling, buddy?
You still on your feet? Well then, how about this?
There’s no time to explain.
Just click on the link in the description
and watch the first episode in this awesomely great new cartoon series,
soon to explode across the entire damn Internet.
来吧 点一下 你可抗拒不了我们的频道噢
Come on, press the button. You can’t resist subscribing to this channel.