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五颜六色的海洋 – 译学馆
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五颜六色的海洋

Ocean Confetti!

在很多方面,塑料是种很不错的材料:我们可以使它足够强大、坚硬去
In many ways, plastic is the perfect material: we can make it strong and rigid enough to
建造飞船、替换骨头,或者是使它变得足够轻薄和柔韧来制成购物袋
build spaceships and replace bones, or thin and flexible enough to make shopping bags
它只有五分镍币的重量却能承重8千克。而且和其他材料不同的是,
that weigh as much as a nickel but carry up to 8 kilograms. And unlike other materials,
塑料不会生锈或者腐烂―它可以存放几个世纪,即使我们只需要它
plastic doesn’t rust or rot — it can last for centuries, even when we only need it to
仅存在几秒而已。
last a few seconds.
我们恰恰生产了数以吨计的塑料,因为它廉价,耐用而且可重复使用。
We make tons of plastic precisely because it’s cheap, durable and yet expendable.
但是,对我们很有用的这些塑料的特征也改变了
But the features of plastic that make it so useful to us have also transformed life inP
在海洋里的生活,每年在那里有我们丢弃的数以亿吨的塑料以及废弃物
the oceans, where as much as 10% of our discarded plastic — millions of tons per year — ends
对于好像鲸鱼、信天翁和海龟那种海洋动物来说,大块的塑料无疑是一件很糟糕的消息了,
up. Big pieces of plastic are definitely bad news for marine animals like whales, albatross,
那些塑料会使得它们有摄入复杂的碎片或者大块儿塑料
and sea turtles, which risk getting tangled in the debris or ingesting large pieces of
的危险。
it.
先不管有关在海洋中成堆垃圾的公众法规,大多数被抛入海洋的塑料
Yet despite the publicity about huge garbage patches in the sea, most of the ocean’s plastic
并不是很大,我们丢失的购物袋和苏打水瓶会随着太阳的照射变得更薄,
isn’t big — our castaway shopping bags and soda bottles get weakened by sunlight and
并且随着风和浪分解成为更小的塑料碎片。尺寸很小的塑料,
torn apart in the wind and the waves into little bits of plastic confetti. On the micro-scale,
尽管,它仍然超级耐久——可以分解很多木头和
though, it’s still super durable — the microorganisms that decompose ripped-up bits of wood and
和海草的微生虫,让它们分解成更为简单的有机物,却不能轻易的分解塑料。所以当
seaweed down into simpler organic compounds can’t easily digest plastic. So while the
塑料碎片被分解的更小块时,它不会消失,只是会随着时间的推移而散播
plastic confetti gets broken into smaller pieces, it doesn’t go away – it just spreads
这就是我们在海洋的每个角落都能发现大量微型塑料的原因,从
out over time. Which is why we’ve found ‘microplastics’ pretty much everywhere in the oceans, from
北极圈到南极洲,还有从海底到海面。
the Arctic to the Antarctic, and from the seafloor to the surface.
不同于容易观察到的大型塑料垃圾,微型塑料的影响
Unlike the easy-to-observe impacts of large plastic trash, the effects of microplastics
是微弱的,且其本身作为碎片是很难被追踪到的:耐侵蚀的碎片
are as subtle and difficult to trace as the fragments themselves: the durable fragments
可以作为新的成分随着微小的海洋生物的成长而累积。或者
can serve as new real estate on which small ocean creatures can grow and multiply; or
会使体型比较庞大的、以塑料为食物的海洋生物噎住,或者吸引和
choke slightly larger ocean creatures that think the plastics are food; or attract and
积累有毒的化学物质,如果这些微粒被吃掉,则会被引入到食物链中。
collect toxic chemicals which become introduced into the food chain if the particles are eaten;
也可能会发生不计其数的其他我们还没有注意到的问题。因为我们才刚刚开始
and probably a million other problems we haven’t noticed yet. Because we’ve only recently started
关注海洋中的这些微型塑料。
paying attention to all these microplastics in the oceans.
但是无可争辩的是,我们曾经向海洋生态系统倾倒过多少塑料,
But it’s undeniable how much plastic trash we’ve introduced into marine ecosystems, and
这些极其耐用的塑料必定会在未来成为一个重大问题,
the wonderful durability of plastic guarantees it’ll be an issue for years to come – it’s
通过生产可降解的塑料,我们也许可以减少进一步的影响,减少
possible we can decrease further impact by switching to biodegradable plastics, dumping
向海洋倾倒的塑料,或者清理海洋大多数的塑料碎片。
less plastic in the oceans, or cleaning up the patches of sea most strewn with plastic,
但是在我们行动之前,问题在于,海洋会不会有足够的可塑性去应对我们
but until we do, the question is, whether the oceans be plastic enough to deal with our
最喜爱的材料呢?
favorite material?

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