Current Hot Topic for February 2018
Our Oceans are Under Threat
Sir David Attenborough has called for the world to cut back on its use of plastic in order to protect oceans. He has explained that action on plastics should be taken immediately and that humanity held the future of the planet “in the palm of its hands”. His comments come amid growing global calls for cutbacks in the use of plastic.
Each year more than 300 million tons of plastic is produced globally, and 10% will end up in the sea. In the worst affected ocean areas, there are over one million pieces of plastic for every square mile and it is estimated that there is now a 1:2 ratio of plastic to plankton and, left unchecked, plastic will outweigh fish by 2050. Also worryingly, plastic production is set to double in the next 20 years.
Attenborough claims that everyone’s actions had an impact on the ocean. “We have a responsibility, every one of us,” he said. “We may think we live a long way from the oceans, but we don’t. What we actually do here, and in the middle of Asia and wherever, has a direct effect on the oceans – and what the oceans do then reflects back on us. We could actually do something about plastic right now.”
Almost 7,000 people took part in the Great British Beach Clean in September 2017, a project that removed 255,209 pieces of litter from 339 beaches. One of the biggest contributors to plastic pollution is drinks bottles. Some 480bn plastic bottles were sold globally in 2016 – more than one million per minute.
Sir David added: “For years we thought that the oceans were so vast and the inhabitants so infinitely numerous that nothing we could do could have an effect upon them but now we know that was wrong. The oceans are under threat now as never before in human history.”
Blue Planet II raised awareness of plastic pollution in the oceans during their final episode, winning a special Impact Award for their work at the National Television Awards. Accepting the award, Attenborough stated, “If our television programmes have helped stir the consciences of people around the world and that we are going to do something to protect our beautiful world, then all of us (production crew) will be very pleased.” Viewers responded emotionally and this response was clear on Twitter with people vowing never to use plastic bags again and demanding a need for change, in their own actions and that by the Government.
The UK Government is currently considering ways to manage this consumption to make it more sustainable. Some proposals include deposit-return schemes and better free-drinking supplies in cities. Cutting back on plastic packaging and plastic bags in supermarkets would also be a major step in decreasing the amount of plastic produced.