Thongchai Thailand


Posted on: March 2, 2021

Ocean plastics


Ocean plastics


Plastic pollution is also taking a toll on people and society. According to a report from the United Nations Environment Programme, the estimated cost of ocean plastic pollution on fishing, tourism, and shipping is at least $13 billion annually. And experts do not yet fully understand how all of this pollution is affecting—or will affect—human health. Of the 8.3 billion metric tons of plastic ever produced, approximately only 9 percent has been recycled and an estimated 60 percent has been discarded, with some ending up polluting our rivers and the ocean. The amount of plastic entering the ocean is projected to double in the next five years. The enormity of this problem has led The Pew Charitable Trusts to undertake a two-year initiative to identify the most effective strategies to address the marine plastic problem. Working with the global consulting firm SYSTEMIQ, we are conducting a global analysis that will quantify the ocean plastic pollution between 2016 and 2040 under different scenarios. We are also engaging with Duke University on a global plastics policy analysis that considers the responses to this issue by a range of governments around the world. Separately, Pew is working with a broad range of stakeholders to develop an evidence-based global roadmap for reducing marine plastic pollution. We expect to release that roadmap in mid-2020.


In related posts we present the case that although the piles of trash on beaches seem rather large to our visionary judgement, the ocean is relatively MUCH MUCH LARGER and in that context and when the size of the ocean is included in the analysis, the assumed pollution problem does not appear to be as serious an issue as the visual judgement may imply. For example, we show in related post#1 linked below that even if {Every minute day and night, the equivalent of one garbage truck of plastic waste enters the oceans} {as claimed by ocean pollution activists}, the amount of plastic going into the ocean is 8,000,000 tonnes per year. This may seem like a huge amount of trash and it may lead to conclusions such as {By 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the world’s oceans}.

Yet, the weight of fish in the ocean is 2E9 tonnes and at 8 million tonnes per year it will take us 2E9/8E6 years or 250 years to break even with the fish without consideration of “the missing plastic” issue in plastic pollution research described in related post #1. Briefly, the missing plastic issue in ocean pollution research is that 99% of the plastic dumped into the ocean simply disappears and can’t be accounted for in the ocean pollution data. Therefore, it will take us 250 years to break even with the fish if we don’t take the missing plastic issue into consideration and 25,000 years to break even wth the fish if we do take the missing plastic issue into consideration.

Another way to judge the scale of the ocean pollution issue is the weight of plastic we dump into it as a fraction of the water in the ocean. The weight of the water in the ocean is 1.4E18 tonnes. This rather large number implies that 1% of the ocean weighs 1.4E16 tonnes; and that means that at 8E6 tonnes per year it will take us 1,750 million years of continuous dumping at one garbage truckload per minute every minute of the day and night to get the amount of plastic pollution in the ocean up to 1% of the ocean by weight without consideration of the missing plastic issue. If the missing plastic issue is taken into considration, it will take us 175 billion years of continuous plastic dumping at one garbage truckload per minute every minute of the day and night to reach the goal where 1% of the ocean by weight is plastic.

It appears that the humans have overestimated themselves but perhaps they have a right to do so given their technological advances and all the things they have built such as ships, factories, aircraft, spaceships, and things like the Empire State Building. Taking all that into account we find that the weight of the ocean is 1.4E21 kg or 1.4E18 tonnes. The 7.8E9 humans on earth with an average weight of 62.5 kg is 4.88E11 kg or 4.88E2 tonnes, less than the weight of a single swarm of polar krill, and yet enough for Paul Ehrlich and Sir David Attenborough to worry themselves sick about the population of the humans. The weight of all the things that humans have built is 1.1E12 tonnes. This means that the weight of the ocean is about 3 billion times the weight of all the humans on earth and 1.3 million times the combined weight of all the humans and all the things that humans have built.

That the ocean is threatened by humans is nonsensical in view of its immense size and complexity and the relative insignificance of humans and their technological and industrial civilization. What makes the ocean worrywartism even more ridiculous is that we don’t really know the ocean. We are now in the year 2021, just beginning to study the ocean at sufficient depth to make the kind of assessments about human impacts on the ocean that has been assumed by the egotistical humans.


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Related posts on the ocean plastics problem:




The shoreline waste problem could be alleviated in part if Asian nations didn’t dump lorry loads of plastic into rivers and seas. I sadly didn’t save two videos, one showing pickup trucks queuing to tip their loads into a river and the other showing a literal river of plastic waste flowing down a street after a downpour, in Indonesia as I remember.

Good point. The shoreline ugliness is not only an eyesore but it stinks and also attracts huge numbers of flies and other such creatures. I was one of the volunteers that cleaned up that pile at the chaam beach a few years ago and then they built a beautiful lookout platform where they now hold the evening aerobics event. What a complete transformation. Thank you for this very insightful comment.

Although I’m awed by beautiful oceans’ blue and green — and especially the life within — the sight simultaneously leaves me very concerned about the increasing plastic entanglement mess hazardously dumped into them.

How does humankind correct its collective addiction to disposability when — regardless of scuba divers’ reports of immense tangled plastic messes (not to mention plastic bags found at some of the ocean’s deepest points) — so much of it is not immediately observable, i.e. out of sight, out of mind, thus misperceived as no threat to us?
And so much of it is from gratuitous purposes, e.g. plastic from individually wrapped toilet paper rolls. (Why? So the consumer can enjoy opening each roll for its after-dinner freshness?!)

It doesn’t surprise me, as general human mentality collectively allows us to, amongst other forms of blatant pollution, throw non-biodegradables down a dark chute like we’re safely dispensing it into a black-hole singularity to be crushed into nothing.

And then there’s the astonishing short-sighted entitled selfishness. I observed this not long ago when a TV news reporter randomly asked a young urbanite wearing sunglasses what he thought of government restrictions on disposable plastic straws. “It’s like we’re living in a nanny state, always telling me what I can’t do,” he recklessly retorted.

Astonished by his shortsighted little-boy selfishness, I wondered whether he’d be the same sort of individual who’d likely have a sufficiently grand sense of entitlement — i.e. ‘Like, don’t tell me what I can’t waste or do, dude!’ — to permit himself to now, say, deliberately dump a whole box of unused straws into the nearest pristine water-body, just to stick it to the authorities who’d dare tell him that enough is enough with our gratuitous massive dumps of plastics (the strait, of course, being defenseless against such guys who’d assert such self-granted sovereignty).

This could be his way of giving the figurative middle-finger at any new government rules. ‘There! How d’ya like that, pal!’

His carelessly entitled mentality to this day makes me very angry.

Oh I am so totally with you on this. What sort of planet are we leaving for our grandchildren? I am in my mid 70’s so I will not be having to pay….. We simply cannot continue as we did before, it’s simply not sustainable.

Perhaps mostly due to spaceship Earth’s large size, there seems to be a general obliviousness in regards to our collective contamination and destruction of the natural environment, though much of it may be willful. (For instance, many of Canada’s leading conservative politicians, not to mention our previous prime minister, are/were ideologically aligned with the pro-fossil-fuel mainstream American Evangelical community and Republican Party. They generally share the belief that to defend the natural environment from the planet’s greatest polluters, notably big fossil fuel, is to go against God’s will and therefore is inherently evil.)
Thus so much gratuitous yet sea-life-damaging waste eventually finds its way into our life-filled oceans, where there are few, if any, caring souls to see it.

I’ve long said that, collective human existence has been dangerously analogous to a cafeteria lineup consisting of diversely societally represented people, all adamantly arguing over which identifiable person should be at the front and, conversely, at the back of the line. Many of them further fight over to whom amongst them should go the last piece of quality pie and how much they should have to pay for it — all the while the interstellar spaceship on which they’re all permanently confined, owned and operated by (besides the wealthiest passengers) the fossil fuel industry, is on fire and toxifying at locations not normally investigated. As a species, we really can be so heavily preoccupied with our own individual albeit often overwhelming little worlds, that we’ll miss the biggest of pictures.

Though we all need to keep doing our very best to correct it ASAP, humankind, in short, is distracting itself/ourselves from our own burning and heavily polluting of our sole spaceship. If it were not for environmentally conscious and active young people who are just reaching voting age, matters would be even bleaker than they are.

It is indeed an ugly sight for us humans to behold and if the ocean plastics problem were framed in terms of the emotional impact on humans I would not argue against it. I know the humans care. My only point is that the ocean doesn’t.

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  • Paul H: The figures for Deniers is worryingly low, I would rather it be upper eighties at least.
  • Ruben Leon: Anything is possible if you take everything to the extreme, even CO2 infrared "feed-back" loops and the entire planet's atmosphere becoming hotter be
  • chaamjamal: Thank you
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