It may sound harsh but yes, this is exactly what we are doing – prepping our oceans to come and kill us. Real apocalypse maybe?
We send more than eight million tonnes of plastic into the ocean – each year! And no, just because we removed it from our home and from the land does not mean it magically disappeared. It simply means that all that garbage is floating out there, in those oceans, and getting ready to come back at us and threaten our very existence.
Our water bodies, the oceans, are a major link to the entire Earth’s ecosystem.
How The Ocean Helps Us
Did you know that almost 70 percent of the oxygen we breathe actually originates from marine plants? Our oceans also contain 97 percent of our total water supply. Also, the oceans absorb almost 30 percent of the CO2 emissions that humans produce, keeping our air cleaner and breathable.
But all that garbage we’re throwing out knowingly into the ocean is threatening to put all of this at risk, and come back at us with a vengeance.
Some Hard Facts.
- In the year 2007, we dumped 2.12 billion tonnes of waste into the oceans.
- In the year 2010, we sent 215 million metric tons of plastic into the oceans.
- There are more than 405 identified areas in the ocean that are recognized as ‘dead zones.’ These areas in the ocean have no more oxygen left in them, due to massive levels of pollution.
- In the year 2014, 5000 sq. miles of area in the Gulf of Mexico had almost turned lifeless, due to excessive pollution levels.
- Humans litter the oceans directly as well as indirectly. Some of the most common waste that finds its way into the ocean includes paper, plastic, cardboard, Styrofoam and so on.
- Toxic products such as fertilizers and pesticides get mixed up in rain or flood waters and eventually find their way into the ocean, contaminating it further.
How Long Does It Take To Degrade
- It takes about 2 weeks for cardboard to degrade in water.
- Newspaper will degrade in about 6 weeks.
- The small Styrofoam cup that you threw out in the water will float for at least 80 years before it completely degrades!
- That bottle of plastic you throw in the water will be around for 400 years!
- Foam will take at least 50 years to degrade while aluminium at least 200 long years.
How Will All This Kill You?
All the waste that we are dumping in the ocean is eventually coming back to our plates too. For instance, all the pesticides, chemicals, lead and other metals that get mixed up in the ocean water eventually contaminate our water supplies. The bacteria present in the ocean can turn various metals, such as mercury, into their most toxic form. It then gets absorbed by the plankton, the very tiny organisms that float in the water and are also eaten up by the marine animals. They find their way into the sea fish and other marine life we eventually eat.
Some very basic ways that this can affect our health include problems with reproduction, hormonal imbalance and related issues, damage to the kidney, damage to the nervous system and more. Also, being exposed to mercury can lead to Parkinson’s disease, heart problems as well as Alzheimer’s, and if pregnant, can cause significant damage to the foetus [1, 2].
When you come in contact with the contaminated water at the beach or in the ocean, it can lead to severe skin rashes and reactions, diarrhoea and even overall stomach pain and infection.
Our oceans and water bodies are really precious, and unless we start understanding and respecting this simple fact, that we are the ones who have to take care of our oceans and maintain the balance, there is really no nice way of saying it. Yes, we may be writing off our own deaths by the way we pollute our oceans, so if we don’t end it now, there may hardly be any time left to make amends.
Image source: Freeimages
 Díez S. Rev Environ Contam Toxicol. 2009;198:111-32. doi: 10.1007/978-0-387-09647-6_3. Review.PMID:19253038
 Park J-D, Zheng W. Human Exposure and Health Effects of Inorganic and Elemental Mercury. Journal of Preventive Medicine and Public Health. 2012;45(6):344-352. doi:10.3961/jpmph.2012.45.6.344.
You may like to read: