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Ear to the Ground

Report: Melting Arctic Ice Will Dump More Than 1 Trillion Pieces of Plastic Into the Sea

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Posted on May 27, 2014

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The melting of vast expanses of Arctic ice will result in the release of more than 1 trillion pieces of plastic into the sea, a new study predicts. The report, co-authored by a group of researchers from Dartmouth College, was published in the scientific journal Earth’s Future. In its article, the Dartmouth team forecast that at least 2,000 trillion cubic meters of Arctic ice, in which the plastic is embedded, will melt in the next decade.

This can potentially cause further damage to wildlife in the sea, as Al-Jazeera America reported Tuesday:

Plastic products often contain potentially harmful additives to make them last longer, the report said. Other studies have shown that small fragments of plastic can act a bit like magnets, attracting pollutants from the environment and making them even more toxic.

Other recent scientific studies have shown that tiny plastic “microbeads,” added to many body cleansers and toothpastes, have been found in major lakes and other waterways used for drinking water. The studies said the plastic balls absorb toxic chemicals released into the environment, and are then eaten by fish and thus introduced into the food chain.

Mass production of plastic began in the 1940s, and by 2009 at least 230 million tons of plastic were produced each year – equivalent to the weight of a double-decker bus every two seconds.

Al-Jazeera also noted that some of the ice patches due to melt will unleash an amount of plastic waste more than double the size of Texas.

Don’t say Louis C.K. didn’t warn us.

—Posted by Donald Kaufman

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