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is about 30 times greater than natural variation. This means that many ocean species are unable to probably form their skeletons and shells; this also has a major impact on ecosystems such as coral reefs, which are particularly sensitive to increases in temperature. Climate change is just one of the issues facing our oceans. The damaging effects caused by the dumping of waste such as chemicals and plastic have also had a detrimental effect on this ecosystem.

weather changes Scientists have already documented the impacts of climate change, and if we continue at the current rate we can expect to see this decline at an even faster rate. Precipitation (rain and snowfall) has increased across the globe. On the opposite end, some regions are experiencing more severe drought which increases the risk of wildfires, lost crops, and drinking water shortages. Rising temperatures leads to more evaporation, which leads to more moisture in the air and increases the intensity of rainfall; therefore creating floods, storms and even more intense hurricanes in certain regions. These are just some examples of how climate change can and already is affecting our planet.

plastic pollution Plastic pollution is the accumulation of plastic waste in the environment. It negatively impacts wildlife, their habitats and humans. Plastics that act as pollutants are categorised into micro-, meso-, or macros debris, based on size.

Plastics are inexpensive and durable, and as a result, levels of plastic production by humans are high. Large volumes of plastic waste have been shown to be harmful to our environment. In 1950, the world’s population of 2.5 billion produced 1.5 million tons of plastic. In 2016, a global population of more than 7 billion people produced over 320 million tons of plastic. This is set to double by 2034.

A large majority of plastic waste, such as plastic bags, straws, bottles and fishing nets end up in our Oceans. The currents then end up bringing plastic waste to places without human inhabitants.

Toxic chemicals from plastic and are found in the blood and tissue of nearly all of us and can cause a number of health issues.

Of the 260 million tons of plastic the world produces each year, about ten per cent ends up in the Ocean, according to a Greenpeace report (Plastic Debris in the World’s Oceans, 2006). Seventy per cent of the mass eventually sinks, damaging life on the seabed. The rest floats in open seas. Unfortunately, plastic is forever and we currently do not recycle and reuse all our plastic waste. We have become used to using an item and simply throwing it away. The issue with plastic is it will never degrade and go back to nature. After around 700 years it will start photodegrading and breakdown into mirco particles,.

Although plastic pollution is a separate threat to this planet on its own, new research shows that there’s a link between plastic and climate change. Research carried out by the University of Hawaii led by Sarah-Jeanne Royer has demonstrated that many plastics actually give off powerful greenhouse gases as they break down, therefore contributing to climate change. Links between climate change and plastic are already known - six per cent of global oil consumption goes towards creating plastics - but this is believed to be the first time a study has demonstrated that plastics actually release greenhouse gases after being created.

100,000 marine mammals and turtles are killed by marine plastic pollution annually. 26 May 2019

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But the basic consensus is that over time, the amount of gas that these plastics release increases - this leads to a feedback loop: as the climate changes, the planet gets hotter, the plastic gives off more methane, increasing the rate of climate change - it’s just a never-ending circle!

Profile for OM Plymouth Magazine

OM Magazine, Issue 124, May 2019  

Plymouth's leading lifestyle magazine

OM Magazine, Issue 124, May 2019  

Plymouth's leading lifestyle magazine