March 17, 2009

The Ocean Around Us

I am reading a book about the many objects that wash up along the shores of the United States and the world. The author discusses her enjoyment with finding these treasures, whether they are sneakers that have fallen off a ship traveling from Korea to the west coast of the United States, wood from sunken ships from hundreds of years ago, gold coins from pirate ships from over 100 years ago, or bottles with messages inside them.

In addition to these “treasures,” the author explains some of the more troubling findings through her travels, plastic. Plastic, one of the greatest inventions of all time is also one of the most biologically harmful to the environment.

Plastic is everywhere in our world, and unfortunately that also means in the oceans and natural areas where they shouldn’t be. In her book, the author shares her findings of plastic everywhere in the oceans, not just along the shores but in the middle of the oceans, caught in currents and passing from one current to the next, affecting the wildlife that interacts with it.

Many people are unaware of the many pollutants that make their way into the oceans on a daily basis. Science and the car industry have made great strides to clean up the emissions that cars give off, why not use the same technology to the ships and barges to help clean up the waters around the world?

I’m not asking for everyone to clean up the oceans and if you see garbage or plastic on the shore to pick it up because that would be a never ending job. What I am asking is that the public demand large corporations that ship their goods across the oceans and lose their cargo during storms to foot the bill for clean up, or, to not overload their ships so that the cargo crates won’t fall off the shop. That would be a start.

How can we as a society ensure that these corporations are held responsible for the pollution they add to the oceans?

Written by Matthew Reid, volunteer blogger with the Literacy ‘n’ Poverty Project. A native New Yorker, Matthew now lives in Boston and works for a math curriculum development company.

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