Today, June 8th 2022, we celebrate the World Oceans Day, an important date to remind us the importance of oceans for the preservation of life.
The oceans are full of biodiversity and the main protein source for over a billion people all over the Earth. They cover more than 70% of our planet, provide 50% of the oxygen and are home for a huge number of species.
“What do the deepest point in the ocean, the Mariana Trench, and the highest mountain peak in the world, Mt. Everest, have in common? Despite being among the planet’s most remote and inaccessible environments, they both contain tiny pieces of plastic from human activities miles away”. This is how a series of interactive stories created by the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) starts. This illustrative comparison shows how important it is to protect the environment because it doesn’t matter how inaccessible a place is: plastic will eventually get there.
This is why this year’s moto for World Oceans Day is Revitalization Collective Action for the Ocean. Because 90% of big fish population has depleted and 50% of coral reefs are destroyed not only because of the litter, but also because of the demanding relationship that humans maintain with oceans. Ecosystems can’t recover properly if human activity takes too many resources from them, making it impossible for them to produce on such a high speed.
From Pollution to Solution is a global assessment of the oceans by the United Nations and it shows the growing threat in all ecosystems. If we don’t tackle this problem, the 11 million metric tons of plastic that already enter the sea will triple on the next 20 years. The potential harm for human and marine life is evident. That is why this report urges governments to take immediate action and cooperate to implement solutions.
So, under this frame of alarm, what are the options we have as society to tackle this problem? Breaking the plastic wave, a report by PEW, can shed some light:
- Improving waste management
- Enhance circularity and responsible consumption.
- Inspire behavioural change on consumers.
- Replacing plastics with alternative materials.
- Effective monitoring to identify sources, quantities and the fate of plastics.
- Improve governance.
- Enhance knowledge and monitor effectiveness using sound science.
- Improve finance with technical assistance and capacity building.
There are already some agreements between governments and organisations to try to solve this problem. But the conclusion is that there is not a single solution and the collaboration of all possible stakeholders is mandatory: from governments and companies to society.
Within the LABPLAS project we are doing our best to contribute by determining reliable identification methods for more accurate assessment of the abundance, distribution, and toxicity determination of small micro-nano plastics and associated chemicals in the environment. We are also developing practical computational tools that will facilitate the mapping of plastic-impacted hotspots and promote a scientifically-sound plastic governance. If you want to learn more, take a look at our scientific publications, public deliverables or at our gallery.
In addition, you can follow the World Oceans Day event here, starting at 3:30 PM CEST