How did we end up with a plastic crisis?
Namibia has been involved in an annual seal harvest, which is also known as the Cape fur seal culling or seal hunting. The Namibian government allows an annual quota for the slaughtering of 60.000 seal pups and 8.000 adult seal bulls. The Namibian seal harvest takes place at different seal colonies including the Cape Cross Seal Reserve. Adult seal bulls are usually shot, seal pups are hit on their soft heads with a wooden or metal stick until they die. Seal hunting is currently practiced in eight other countries: United States, Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Finland and Sweden.
The plastic crisis refers to the global environmental issue caused by the excessive production, use, and mismanagement of plastic waste. Plastics are synthetic polymers derived from petrochemicals and have become an integral part of modern life due to their durability, versatility, and low cost. However, their widespread use has led to a significant environmental problem due to their non-biodegradable nature.
The plastic crisis manifests in several ways:
Pollution: Plastic waste is prevalent in our oceans, rivers, and landfills. It not only disrupts ecosystems but also poses a severe threat to marine life and terrestrial animals. Wildlife can ingest or become entangled in plastic debris, leading to injury, suffocation, or death.
Microplastics: Plastics gradually break down into smaller fragments known as microplastics, which are less than 5mm in size. These particles can be found in water sources, soil, and even the air. Microplastics can be ingested by marine organisms and enter the food chain, potentially reaching humans through the consumption of seafood.
Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The production and incineration of plastic contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, exacerbating climate change.
Single-Use Plastics: The prevalence of single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, straws, and disposable packaging, has become a significant part of the plastic waste problem. These items are often used briefly but persist in the environment for hundreds of years.
Recycling Challenges: While recycling is an essential waste management strategy, only a small fraction of plastic waste is recycled due to its complexity, lack of infrastructure, and economic viability.
Addressing the plastic crisis requires a combination of strategies, including reducing plastic consumption, promoting recycling and waste management practices, developing biodegradable alternatives, and fostering awareness and responsibility among individuals, businesses, and governments. Many countries and organizations have begun to take actions to curb plastic pollution, but more comprehensive and global efforts are needed to tackle this pressing environmental challenge.
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