Plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic packaging, disposable plastic. We use it every day. We throw it everywhere. Plastic pollution is a huge global problem.
Every year about 11 million tons of plastic ends up in the sea. More than 1 million seabirds and 100,000 mammals are killed annually by plastic debris.
Not only does all plastic waste lead to massive pollution of the sea. It also imposes on the world economic costs of about $12 billion annually, according to the United Nations. This is money that includes cleaning work, losses in the fishing industry and other industries.
The sea binds us all. Today, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, we are facing what I call an “ocean crisis”.
But what if plastic waste becomes part of the solution?
advance This year’s Maritime Conference in Lisbon The United Nations organized a youth forum. One hundred young activists have tried to find solutions to the ocean crisis the world is facing.
And here the group “West Avengers” presented their idea. They see plastic waste as an opportunity, not a problem.
Rahma Kifugo from Kenya and Rafa Mustafa Kamal from Malaysia are members of the group. They will use the plastic we throw away to make building parts for new homes.
– We wanted to look at how we can best meet the challenge of plastic pollution of the sea, Kivugo tells NRK.
– It will be able to reduce the plastic that will end up elsewhere. Kamal says plastic is long lasting, and doesn’t need to be replaced as often as the materials they use today.
It wants the local communities to be at the heart of the solution. The starting point was the village Lok Ouray in Sabah in Malysia.
The village is already floating in the water. But with all the plastic pollution, the village is now bobbing in a sea of plastic.
There are a lot of plastics surrounding their homes, says Kifugo.
Malaysia has a huge plastic problem.
In 2019, the WWF published a file Report Which showed that the country It ranks second in the annual per capita use of plastic. Country It also owns one of the largest plastic manufacturing industries globally.
Worldwide, 89 percent of the plastic waste found on the ocean floor is single-use plastic, such as plastic bags. More than 800 types of marine plastic are affected, through ingestion, entanglement and habitat alteration, according to the United Nations.
How is the sea?
sea and climate
The ocean absorbs about a quarter of the carbon dioxide that humans release into the atmosphere. Without it, the temperature would have already risen by more than two degrees since pre-industrial times.
But absorbing carbon dioxide makes the ocean more acidic. It can damage the ecosystems in the sea. Ocean acidification could have a significant impact on marine ecosystems if emissions continue as they are now.
sea and pH
The pH at sea level is the lowest in 26,000 years. When the pH in the ocean decreases, the ability of the ocean to absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere also decreases.
The sea absorbs about 23 percent of the annual man-made emissions of carbon dioxide. It makes the ocean more acidic. Thus, wildlife and ecosystems are threatened.
The sea and the economy
The ocean economy is among the fastest growing in the world, and provides many benefits to many sectors of great economic value, such as fisheries, transportation, biotechnology, energy production, and more.
Globally, the market value of marine and coastal resources and industries is estimated at $3 trillion each year or roughly 5 percent of global GDP.
sea and pollution
Each year, about 11 million tons of plastic end up in the ocean, costing the world about $12 billion in economic costs, which include clean-up efforts, and losses to the fishing and other industries.
About 80 percent of marine and coastal pollution comes from land and includes agricultural runoff, pesticides, plastics, and polluted wastewater.
89 percent of the plastic waste found on the sea floor is single-use plastic, such as plastic bags. More than 800 species of marine plastic are affected, through ingestion, entanglement and habitat alteration. Each year, more than 1 million seabirds and 100,000 mammals are killed by plastic debris.
sea and heating
In 2021, sea temperatures were the highest ever. They outperformed 2020 by between 9 and 14 zettajoules.
The zettajoule corresponds to approximately half of the annual energy consumption in the entire world.
The heat penetrates deeper into the sea. Large parts of the world’s oceans have experienced at least one strong heat wave over the past year.
Coral reefs are particularly vulnerable. It is expected that 70-80 percent of them will disappear with a warming of 1.5 degrees. At two degrees, more than 99 percent will disappear.
the sea is rising
The seas are rising faster than ever. The past eight years 4.5 mm per year. Sea level rise is mainly due to the melting of Arctic ice and glaciers.
The world’s glaciers have decreased, on average, by 33.5 meters since 1950. 76 percent of that ice has disappeared since 1980.
The locals in the city center
Today, locals mainly use mangrove wood to build houses. This has contributed to the fact that one-fifth of all mangrove forests have disappear Since 1980.
Waste publishers believe that using alternative building materials will benefit the local community.
– This should be an opportunity for local communities to use these resources, says Kifugo.
We hope they don’t go back to using mangroves again, says Kamal.
In addition, the plastic will be able to create a new source of income and new jobs for the population, according to Waste Vengers. He helped them win the ideas competition at the United Nations Youth Forum, which awards among other things $15,000 (about NOK 150,000).
The funds will be used to realize the project.
We hope to show that this can be replicated elsewhere as well. We are excited to see how far this project can go, says Kamal and Kifugo.
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