Plastic Pollution

 

Beaches in Pakistan, especially Clifton, are littered with plastic pollution contributing to around 50 percent of the total garbage found on the beach. This non degradable pollutant is seriously affecting marine life along coastal and offshore waters, maintained a World Wide Fund for Nature Pakistan’s  study on marine pollution in the country.

According to WWF Pakistan solid garbage from cities and towns along the coastline makes its way to the ocean. An estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, much of it plastic is dumped in the world’s oceans every year.Plastic bags, bottles, toys, packaging material, if not disposed of correctly, can reach the sea.Plastic waste, which decomposes very slowly, therefore, remain either floating in the open sea or piled up on the beaches Fishermen also contribute in this pollution by dumping an estimated 150,000 tons of plastic into the ocean each year, including packaging, plastic nets, lines, and buoys. According to another estimate about 8,000 tons of solid waste mainly consisting of plastic is unaccounted for in Karachi; most of it ending up in the sea around Karachi. 

It has been reported that globally one out of three marine mammals have been found entangled in plastic litter. Similarly, researches indicate that around 90 percent of sea birds digest plastic.

Fish and other animals are also not spared as they consume micro-plastic or become entangled in plastic debris, the study maintains.

Uncontrolled dumping of plastic products in the terrestrial and marine environment has become a serious threat to animals and plants inhabiting coastal and offshore waters of Pakistan.

According to one estimate, around 6.4 million metric tons of trash, mostly plastic, is dumped in the world’s oceans every year. If plastic bags, bottles, toys and packaging material are not disposed of properly, they reach the sea and damage coastal ecosystems.

Plastic pollution come from flotsam and jetsam generated from ships including fishing vessels operating in the sea. Floating plastic is mistaken for food items my marine animals who become engulfed in it, in most cases, with serious and deadly consequences.

There is need to place stress upon the need for controlling dumping of solid waste especially plastic in the sea, as most of these materials degrade very slowly taking in most cases centuries. There is, therefore, need to control disposal of solid waste which may be taken to the community dump site by the municipal organization. ‘There is also a need to undertake regular cleaning operations of the beaches to remove accumulated plastic. 

Ocean Pollution: Effects on Sea life

Whales and dolphins live in a world of water and sound. They feed, communicate and find their way around their world using sound. If you pump oil or chemicals into that world, or high levels of unnatural noise, then they will suffer. Chemical spills, seismic noise used to find oil and gas, conducting loud military exercises at sea and increases in boat traffic can all put whales and dolphins in danger, cause them to strand on coastlines, and even kill them. Amazingly, there are currently no accepted international standards regarding noise pollution in our seas. We don’t know what damage all these activities are doing to whales and dolphins so we have to act now to find out before it is too late.

Oil and chemical spills, sewage and other man made marine pollution and debris can have terrible effects on whales and dolphins and the places where they live, eat and breed.  But whales and dolphins also live in a world of sound. They communicate, find their way around and locate food using sound, it is their key to survival.

Loud underwater seismic searches or surveys (pulses of noise sent down to the seabed) to locate oil and gas, military exercises using powerful underwater sonar, and increasing levels of boat activity all create an ocean full of noise and the levels are increasing.

For whales and dolphins, ‘listening’ is as important as ‘seeing’ is for humans. Noise pollution threatens whale and dolphin populations, interrupting their normal behaviour, driving them away from areas important to their survival, and at worst injuring or sometimes even causing the deaths of some whales and dolphins.

There are currently no accepted international standards regarding noise pollution in our seas. Because we don’t really know what long term damage pollution in all these forms is doing to whales and dolphins

Ocean Pollution and Climate Change

Oil spills and other pollution at sea actually account for a small fraction of ocean pollution.

Nearly half of all ocean pollution comes from activities that take place on land, like sewage, industrial and agricultural runoff, garbage dumping, and chemical spills. Another third comes from airborne pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide and mercury from coal burning power plants.

Pesticide and fertilizer runoff are creating huge dead zones oxygen depleted areas where many marine species struggle to survive. The world’s largest dead zone, located in the Gulf of Mexico, is roughly the size of Connecticut.

  1. Plastics are another major source of contamination in our oceans. Of the 100 million metric tons of plastic produced every year, about 10 million end up in the oceans.

    Plastic pollution comes in all shapes and sizes. Larger pieces make up the Eastern Garbage Patch, a floating whirlpool of trash in the Pacific oceans that’s about the size of Texas. Smaller pieces like the micro beads in your toothpaste and cosmetics are choking hundreds of different marine species.

  2. The same greenhouse gases causing climate change are also having disastrous effects on the ocean.

    Our oceans are absorbing carbon dioxide, rapidly causing them to become more acidic. This is threatening the habitat of every species that calls the ocean home, particularly vulnerable coral as well as many types of plankton, which form the base of the food chain.

  3. In a very real sense, we are fighting a two-front war. One front is the fight to keep the oceans clean and to sustain the marine plant and animal life on which we depend for our livelihoods and that keep the earth in proper balance.

  4. The other front is the fight to slow the growth of global warming and, unfortunately, also to adapt to the changes we know are coming to rising seas, encroaching sea water, violent storms and periods of drought.

Population Growth and Envirnomental Degradation

Population is an important source of development, yet it is a major source of environmental degradation when it exceeds the threshold limits of the support systems. Unless the relationship between the multiplying population and the life support system can be stabilized, development programs, howsoever, innovative are not likely to yield desired results. Population impacts on the environment primarily through the use of natural resources and production of wastes and is associated with environmental stresses like loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution and increased pressure on arable land. Human population issues are extremely important when it comes to our way of life and our future on this planet.

Poverty is said to be both cause and effect of environmental degradation. The circular link between poverty and environment is an extremely complex phenomenon. Inequality may foster unsustainability because the poor, who rely on natural resources more than the rich, deplete natural resources faster as they have no real prospects of gaining access to other types of resources. Moreover, degraded environment can accelerate the process of impoverishment, again because the poor depend directly on natural assets.

Lack of opportunities for gainful employment in villages and the ecological stresses is leading to an ever-increasing movement of poor families to towns. Mega cities are emerging and urban slums are expanding. Such rapid and unplanned expansion of cities has resulted in degradation of urban environment. It has widened the gap between demand and supply of infrastructural services such as energy, housing, transport, communication, education, water supply and sewerage and recreational amenities, thus depleting the precious environmental resource base of the cities.

The result is the growing trend in deterioration of air and water quality, generation of wastes, the proliferation of slums and undesirable land use changes, all of which contribute to urban poverty.

Direct impacts of agricultural development on the environment arise from farming activities which contribute to soil erosion, land salination and loss of nutrients. The spread of green revolution has been accompanied by over exploitation of land and water resources, and use of fertilizers and pesticides have increased many fold. Shifting cultivation has also been an important cause of land degradation. Leaching from extensive use of pesticides and fertilizers is an important source of contamination of water bodies. Intensive agriculture and irrigation contribute to land degradation particularly salination, alkalization and water logging.

It would not be exaggerated if stated that the major international wars to be fought in the future will continue to be over natural resources Power conflicts and self-interest will perhaps mean that, there will be gross violation of basic rights and death or misery for millions of innocent people. Throughout history, most wars have had trade and resources at their core, fueled by imperialistic motives. In future as well, perhaps this pattern is likely to continue, as resources get depleted, distributed unequally and wasted in these wars (hot and cold), additional conflicts and contention will arise through access to even more limited resources.

More people means less forest, water, soil, and other natural resources, but more waste, pollution, and greenhouse gases. This suggests that climate change may be sped up by population growth if we don’t do something soon. Alternative resources, conservation, improved environmental technology, and better education about global warming can ease our impact on the earth and serve as a new frontier for our future generations. We now know so much about

Alternative resources, conservation, improved environmental technology, and better education about global warming can ease our impact on the earth and serve as a new frontier for our future generations. We now know so much about human population that it seems as if we can easily control it. In the end, though, the prospect of the human race is up to the people, not the government. We will decide how far we are willing to go to preserve our earth for its future inhabitants. If we make population a priority, and assist countries in need of help, than we should be able to guide ourselves toward a stable level of development and growth.