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By Joe McCarthy
The oceans are massive, pulsing, vibrant bodies of water that serve humanity in countless ways—from providing food to enabling commerce to simply being beautiful.
But these powerful expanses of sea are not invincible. Each year, human activity erodes marine life in some way. Overfishing is driving many fish populations to the brink of extinction, carbon emissions are acidifying the waters, making it hard for small sea animals to reproduce, rising global temperatures are cooking coral reefs alive.
And plastic—the ubiquitous material that comes in so many forms—is terrorizing everything that depends on these waters.
Here are nine shocking facts about how much plastic is in the oceans:
1. Every half second, this much plastic makes it into the world's oceans:
Taken at the UN's Clean Seas Exhibit in New York
2. At least 8 million tons of plastic enter the oceans each year. That's similar to emptying a garbage truck of plastic into an ocean every minute.
3. There is more microplastic in the ocean than there are stars in the Milky Way.
4. 322 million tons of plastic were produced in 2015—the same weight as 900 Empire State Buildings (which is made of granite and steel).
5. 60-90 percent of marine litter is plastic-based.
6. More than 50 percent of sea turtles have consumed plastic.
7. The average U.S. citizen consumes 167 plastic water bottles each year—but recycles just 25 percent of them.
8. The amount of plastic in the world's oceans could increase by a factor of 10 in the next decade.
9. Cigarette butts, plastic bags, fishing gear, and food and beverage containers are the most common forms of plastic pollution found in the oceans.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Whitney E. Akers
- "The Game Changers" is a new documentary on Netflix that posits a vegan diet can improve athletic performance in professional athletes.
- Limited studies available show that the type of diet — plant-based or omnivorous — doesn't give you an athletic advantage.
- We talked to experts about what diet is the best for athletic performance.
Packed with record-setting athletes displaying cut physiques and explosive power, "The Game Changers," a new documentary on Netflix, has a clear message: Vegan is best.
By John R. Platt
When it comes to solving problems related to wildlife trade, there are an awful lot of "sticky widgets."
By Bijal Trivedi
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.