Op-Ed: The Human Effect

By: Sam Blake:

In our world today, it’s easy to come to this conclusion: people don’t always make the best decisions. From food to eat, to cars to drive, and even to garbage disposal. It is understood mankind isn’t made up of the most eco-friendly people. Sometimes we come across extreme cases of human error and a lack of awareness as a whole. This, is one of those cases.

Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, over a 60,000 square mile radius, there is an 80,000 ton behemoth of trash progressively getting bigger. One might see how this could sound like a problem. Nick Mallos, director of the Trash Free Seas Program in Portland, Oregon, said in an interview with NBC’s Kiara Alfonseca, “At the end of the day, ocean plastic isn’t an ocean problem, but a people problem.” In this segment of the interview he also referenced the overall awareness of mankind and said, “We have a role to think about how we are consuming and how we are living our daily lives.”

A big concern among those who study marine life is the actual components of the trash in the ocean. A report by the World Animal Protection shows about half of the plastic accumulated here is fishing gear, “meant to kill,” making it blatantly detrimental to the eco system it’s most prevalent in. Now, it is to the point where researchers can’t always date the discard they find, making it hard to tell how long this trash has been effecting the ecosystem. This means that the overall number of wildlife casualties related to trash could be a larger number than scientists think.

The New York Times has also reported that this heaping pile of debris is, “16x bigger than previously thought,” and said to be growing via: @nytimes Twitter account. Though just 8% of the plastic in this problem area is considered, “microplastic,” the fact that the heap continues to gain mass faster and faster, means that there should be more of a focus on the input end of the spectrum rather than the output aspect.

There is a lot to be done when it comes to saving the ecosystem of the Pacific Ocean. However, there have been many progressive moves made toward the removal of trash, as well as the education on the human impact on the environment. The time is now to make the necessary changes to our environment before things get out of hand. Though seemingly insurmountable even at this point, there are ways to improve. With a steady stream of consciousness, mankind can bandage the wounds it’s inflicted on itself.

More information can be found here.

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