A new study published by Science Magazine this month puts what we already believe to be true about man made structures and ‘stuff’ in dire perspective. And of course, plastic is a significant contributor.
The staggering statistics in the study found that all the human contributions of mass to the planet now exceeds the weight of all living things. If you were to take into account the earth’s water mass, natural biomass will remain larger than human materials only until about 2037…about 16 years.
Buildings and other infrastructure weigh more than the world’s trees and shrubs, the researchers found. And the mass of plastic is double that of all animals.
All of the animals on Earth.
Furthermore, the amount of new material (plastic included) added every week equals the total weight of Earth’s nearly 8 billion people.
Or, consider plastic waste contribution in a more obvious light; The equivalent of 65 trash trucks of plastic waste are dumped in the ocean in the U.S. DAILY via land, rivers & coasts. [PLASTICS POLLUTION COOALITION / 2019]
We already know that plastic can take hundreds or thousands of years to break down but considering the harmful effects of the polymers and potential chemicals contained, or consequently emitted into greenhouse gases during degradation, we probably won’t be surprised of future studies that link plastic directly to plant and organism alterations outside of the known methane gas and carbon dioxide effects to the environment.
There may not be much we can do to slow the progress of building and expanding but there is much we can do about moving forward with bio and eco technologies to slow, and eventually replace the harmful impact of plastics in our world.