By now it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that our oceans are being polluted at an alarming rate. A new study released last week detailed that most of this plastic waste is coming from developing nations in Asia, mainly China.
The study, which was published in Science, detailed the alarming rate that plastic trash was being poured into our oceans. In part they wrote: “We calculate that 275 million metric tons (MT) of plastic waste was generated in 192 coastal countries in 2010, with 4.8 to 12.7 million MT entering the ocean.”
The majority of that trash came from China’s shorelines. In fact, the study estimates that between 1.3 million to 3.5 million metric tons of plastic are put into the ocean each year by China alone. Other huge contributors of trash into the ocean were countries in Asia with poor waste management such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. See the diagram further below for a bit of perspective.
Detailed studies on where the tons of plastic trash that pollute our oceans originate from are sparse which is why this report is so valuable.
So what should be done?
We must be able to hold countries accountable on an international level to get this unacceptable trend to stop. After all, even if the United States or other developed nations have laws and procedures to clean the ocean and limit the amount of pollution going in, if across the same ocean other countries are dumping then the main point is being lost.
As someone who spends as much time as he can in the ocean this issue is pretty personal for me. From a scientific point of view the oceans are essential to our survival as a species. This is a man-made disaster and it can be stopped but the lack of respect for the ocean by many so-called developing nations is beyond upsetting.
If we as the human race start putting profits and ‘development’ as priorities over keeping our planet clean – then what is the hope for the future?
The alarming mentality of short term gain over long term consequences is one of my biggest issues with the largely unregulated growth and profit motive that we see in modern day Asia, especially China.