I can't believe it’s gotten this bad…
We live in a wasteful society. Don’t try and deny it, you know it’s true. Whether you want to believe it or not — our wastefulness directly affects our environment and EVERYONE in it. At the end of the day, everyone is responsible for what’s happening to our planet, too. It’s easy to see somebody blatantly throw trash out the car window or onto the sidewalk, or to waste clean water needlessly, but almost every action we do (or do not do) has some impact on the environment, and with billions of people, even the smallest things can add up.
While some of us may never face the immediate consequences of our actions and inactions or see the damages our footprint has on the Earth, we can assure you that living in polluted environments is other people’s reality every day of their lives. There is so much we take for granted without ever realizing.
We’ve rounded up some of the most shocking examples of the direct effects of pollution on wildlife and people that we could find, in the hopes that maybe we can all begin to take the steps towards a cleaner planet. After all, it is the only one we’ve got…
Pollution Is a Real Issue
Over the last ten years, humans have reportedly produced 10 times as much plastic as we have in the last century. Not only that but each and every year we throw away enough of the material to circle the earth 4 times. You would think we would have come up with something more environmentally safe than plastic by now, but here we are.
While the issues aren’t directly coming from America, studies show that Americans alone throw away approximately 35 billion water bottles a year, all of which are still in existence in some form or another as plastic takes anywhere from 500-1000 years to disintegrate. The moral of this story? We use way too much plastic and that needs to change, or we (and the environment) could be faced with some serious consequences. Make sure to recycle your plastics, or it could be the recipe for an early end to our beloved planet.
Man’s Best Friend
A poor dog stands amidst the toxic fumes being emitted from coal mines in India. Coal has been one of the most reliable sources of American energy for years, but it comes with a pretty big cost. It’s incredibly dirty. The same type of chemistry that lets coal produce energy, breaking down carbon molecules, is the same chemistry that proves to be harmful to the environment.
Air pollution and global warming are two of the most serious threats to our planet, and that’s both what coal does for you. Not only can coal be harmful to the environment, but also public health.
When coal burns, the chemical reaction releases energy. However, the chemical reaction also carries toxic airborne pollutants and heavy metals into the environment. This ends up harming people’s lungs as well as harming the atmosphere that protects our beautiful planet.
A Sea of Trash
Also known as the Pacific trash vortex, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is exactly what it sounds like: a giant floating patch of trash off the coast of California. The patch of marine debris particles is located in the North Pacific Ocean, and it was discovered back between 1985 and 1988. The patch itself is pretty large, and it’s estimated to be twice the size of the state of Texas. Sea turtles and the black-footed albatross have been severely harmed by the patch. In studies done, it is estimated that almost every single one of the 1.5 million Laysan albatrosses that inhabit the area currently have plastic in their digestive system. Twenty tons of plastic debris are washed up on Midway every single year with five tons of the debris being fed to albatross chicks.
Of course, in real life, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch consists of tiny, tiny bits of plastic that are often microscopic inside. The underwater layers plus their low density results in the impossibility of detecting the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by satellite or even by casual boaters or sailors who do not know specifically what to look for. Estimates of the exact size of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are hard to come by, but they range from being the size of Texas to being the size of Russia.
The patch also hurts the food chain, as toxic chemicals are being eaten by jellyfish, fish, and other surface-dwelling sea life who cannot distinguish the tiny polymer particles from normal nutrients and safe food. Who ends up eating these toxic fish? You guessed it, humans. Plastic is literally on the food chain now, thanks to us. Bon appétit!