YOUR WEEKLY BRIEFING FROM PARLEY
A new report reveals that almost 70,000 tons of microplastic are released into the environment every year by vehicle tires wearing down on roads. Of that total, about 19,000 tonnes end up in our waterways. Microplastics are particles of less than 5mm in size, often fragments of larger items like fishing nets and drinks bottles. They can also form by the wearing down of products like clothing that has been repeatedly washed. The report estimated that washing synthetic clothes could be generating between 2,300 and 5,900 tonnes of microplastics each year – a small fraction of the impact of tires.
Plastics contain a range of potentially toxic chemicals – and those substances can change the behavior of marine creatures and leave them vulnerable to attack, according to a new study. The discovery, based on experiments with sea snails, suggests that plastic pollution is having profound effects on ocean life that are currently being overlooked.
A landmark report quietly released on Black Friday highlights the ways climate change is impacting the US. As the oceans have warmed, disruptions in fisheries, long predicted, are now underway. The previous assessment also forecast that coastal cities would see more flooding in the coming years as sea levels rose. That’s no longer theoretical.
In just the latest reminder of the dangers of plastic pollution in our oceans, a dead whale in Indonesia was found with more than 1,000 pieces of plastic waste in its stomach, including drinking cups and flip-flops. Meanwhile, almost 150 whales died after becoming stranded on a beach in New Zealand. It’s not known exactly what causes these tragic mass beachings.
Plastic is now part of our planet’s fabric. In this fascinating conversation, a scientist and an archaeologist discuss what happens next. “Plastics are finding their way into soils and deep ocean sediments – thus becoming part of the archaeological and geological records. In some of these buried environments, plastic objects stand a good chance of being fossilized.”