Preventing Ocean Plastic Pollution
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The ocean covers nearly three-fourths of the Earth. Vast and powerful, it is central to the life of everyone on the planet, supplying more than half of the world’s oxygen, providing food and recreation, and supporting economic vitality. Yet for all its seeming invincibility, the ocean has never been more in danger.
Its very chemistry is changing as ocean waters become more acidified through climate change. Its inhabitants—from large sharks to finger-sized crustaceans—are under assault.
Plastics pollution is now ubiquitous, found even in the ocean’s greatest depths. And sea levels continue to rise, challenging the barriers separating people from water.
In this new series, we focus on the connection between the health of the ocean and the health of the planet—and what that means for the well-being of all of us.
We’ll examine the state of the ocean, detail the threats, and offer potential solutions based on data, science, and traditional ways of knowing that are collaborative and achievable.
In this new series, “Ocean, People, Planet,” we focus on the connection between the health of the ocean and the health of the planet. We’ll examine the state of our ocean, the challenges it faces, and offer potential solutions based on data, science, and traditional ways of knowing.
Stat: 11 million metric tons—the amount of plastic that enters the ocean each year.
Story: We continue our “Ocean, People, Planet” season with a discussion of one of the largest threats facing the ocean: plastic pollution. Winnie Lau, who is the project director of Pew’s preventing ocean plastics project, and Richard Bailey, professor of environmental systems at Oxford University, discuss ways to reduce the amount of plastic entering the ocean and highlight a new analytical tool that nations can use to take action.
Stat: 51% of Americans say the U.S. is doing a very bad or somewhat bad job of addressing climate change.
Story: Amid growing public concern about rising seas, extreme weather, and disappearing biodiversity, we speak with Michael Oppenheimer, the Albert G. Milbank professor of geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University and a longtime participant in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change. He explains the science behind the planet’s changing environment, its effects on the ocean, and possible solutions to avoid “the climate danger zone.”
Stat: 2.1 feet—Scientists have forecast an increase of as much as 2.1 feet in the Chesapeake Bay by 2050.
Story: In this episode, we travel to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, where the refuge is losing ground to climate change and rising sea levels. Through interviews with experts—including Joseph Gordon, project director for Pew’s work on conserving marine life in the U.S.; Marcia Pradines Long, manager of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge; Kristin Thomasgard, program director with the Department of Defense; Julie M. Schablitsky, chief archaeologist at the Maryland Department of Transportation; and Kate Larson, a historian and author—we explore the threats facing this refuge because of the changing climate, and the path ahead for its environmental, cultural, and economic future.
Stat: 30%—More than 70 countries support the call to protect and conserve at least 30% of the global ocean by 2030.
Story: The ocean is central to all life, providing oxygen, nutrition, and recreation, and supporting economic livelihoods for coastal communities around the globe. But this essential resource is facing multiple threats, including climate change, overfishing and illegal fishing, and plastics pollution.
In this first episode, we speak with Callum Roberts, marine biologist and oceanographer, about our human history with these waters and how we might chart a better course for our collective future.
Stat: 3 times: The Arctic is warming three times faster than the planet as a whole.
Story: The ocean is important for the health of the planet, and coastal communities around the world rely on it for their way of life.
In Part II of “The State of Our Ocean,” we speak with Sheila (Siila) Watt-Cloutier, an environmental, cultural, and human rights advocate, about the value of the ocean to the Inuit in the Arctic and how challenges such as climate change and rising tides affect her community and its traditional ways of life.
“What happens in the Arctic doesn’t stay in the Arctic,” says Watt-Cloutier. Many of the threats emerging in her people’s culture from climate change are reflected across the world in other coastal towns.