From the Falling Walls Conference 2017:
Breaking the Wall of Ocean Pollution
How Marine Ecology Reveals the Collapse of an Ecosystem
When synthetic plastics were developed in the early years of the 20th century, it was a true breakthrough that revolutionised the world of materials. Over the long term however, the more than 350 tonnes of plastics produced every day might turn out to be a curse for humanity and the planet itself. Considering these astounding masses, it is important to keep in mind that plastic never entirely breaks down – it just breaks up into ever-smaller pieces. Jennifer Lavers, an ecotoxicologist at the University of Tasmania, has set out to investigate how the 20 million items of plastic waste that enter the world’s oceans each day affect marine ecosystems, especially ocean seabird populations. The results of her work are nothing short of alarming. The extreme levels of plastic pollution she has discovered on the world’s remotest islands and the dramatic effects on aquatic life are ultimate warning signs that the current way humanity is handling its “plastics addiction” cannot be sustained any further without doing deep and lasting damage to the oceans. At Falling Walls, Jennifer explains the ruined natural paradises she has found on uninhabited islands and calls for a global wake-up to prevent the further destruction of the oceans.