The Cocos (Keeling) Islands is a remote location off the coast of Australia in the Indian Ocean. According to a recent study, an estimated 414 million pieces of plastic weighing 238 tonnes was found washed up on these islands. This takes plastic pollution to a whole new level.
The report states that remote islands are the best location to witness just how serious the world’s plastic pollution problem is. The plastic that travels around the world in the ocean will wash up on these beaches.
How Was This Calculated
You are probably wondering how exactly scientists counted the plastic debris on the beach. In reality, they had to estimate the amount of debris.
The report states that 93% (383 million items) of the plastic is 10 cm below the surface.
The problem with this estimate is that it only goes 10 cm below the surface. It is very likely that you can find plastic deeper than this. Thus, this is a very conservative estimate by scientists.
Why Plastic Pollution Is So Dangerous
Unfortunately, many people do not realize the dangers that plastic pollution poses to humanity. For starters, plastics carried off by ocean waves begin to break down when exposed to the harsh sunlight.
While this might sound good, it is not. The plastics break down into smaller pieces of plastic and once they reach a specific size, they are classified as microplastics. These small plastic fragments get consumed by fish and other marine life.
Thus, the entire food chain in the ocean becomes contaminated and humans are at the top of it. The effects of plastic on human health is becoming a much larger section of medical research.
However, the effects are still unknown.
Drastic Action Needed
Unfortunately, unless drastic action is taken, plastics will fill oceans and marine life will reduce significantly. This threatens the food source of millions of people around the world.
The worst part about it is that this is completely preventable. With better recycling efforts, single-use plastic bans and more awareness, plastics won’t end up in the ocean.