The Only Home We've Ever Known
"There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
- Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
Plastic is polluting our ocean. Because of our plastic-driven consumer habits, our oceans will have more plastic than fish by 2050.
But the problem isn’t limited to the ocean – conventional plastic is made from oil, and the extracting, refining, and use of oil contributes to greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change.
Climate change is a change in global weather patterns, and one of those patterns is rising global temperatures, causing all kinds of problems – extreme weather, melting polar ice caps, and warmer ocean temperatures.
More bad news for our oceans: Warmer temperatures destabilize our coral reef systems, which are the heart - and home - to most of our marine life. Everything from microscopic algae to apex predators rely on healthy reefs to sustain life.
A dead whale with 47 pounds of plastic in its belly tells us our plastic problem is serious – in the ocean. But it’s actually much closer to us than we think.
Micro-plastics have recently been detected far from the trash gyres in the middle of the ocean – now they're on our plates and in our water. A recent study found plastic in 88% of global tap water. And as for our dinner plates, freshwater and marine species affected by plastic pollution reaches into the hundreds of species, and we eat about half of those species.
While scientists are still trying to study the effects of microplastics on humans, the effects of microplastics on marine life has shown liver damage, and disruption of normal hormone function, as many of the chemicals released by these microplastics contain endocrine disruptors as well as known carcinogens.
And while scientists are still observing the long-term effects, we do know that many of these plastics contain chemicals – like flame retardants – that are known to cause brain damage in children.
In short, our plastic addiction comes at great cost - to all of us, and to the only home we've ever known.