Leo Yu Portola HS 9th Grade
In many pictures and films, the ocean seems perfectly clear and sparkly; however, due to human carelessness, trash has accumulated in the oceans, especially the Pacific Ocean. Great garbage patches, growing “from 700,000 square kilometres (270,000 sq mi) (about the size of Texas) to more than 15,000,000 square kilometres (5,800,000 sq mi)...twice the size of the continental United States”, have been created due to trash disposal methods such as ocean dumping. These great garbage patches are created by ocean currents collecting all trash from different parts of the ocean to one concentrated area. However, the waste that can be seen on the surface of the ocean contains only a small amount of the waste actually present. Most of the microplastics (small pieces of plastic that have been broken down into a powder resembling substance) sink to the “The seafloor beneath the Great Pacific Garbage Patch”In fact, “Oceanographers and ecologists recently discovered that about 70% of marine debris actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean.” Because the plastic is not biodegradable, instead of decomposing or breaking down with the highly reactive environment of the ocean, it grains down into a sandy textured material. Unfortunately, the worst effects of microplastics are only yet to come.
Everyday, oxygen plays a vital role in our lives. From the air we breathe to gas that powers our cars, oxygen is definitely something humans cannot live without. Ever since the Great Oxygenation Event from about three billion years ago to about one billion years ago , phytoplankton on the surface of the ocean have been persistently generating oxygen from the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Phytoplankton are autotrophic organisms that provide a variety of resources to humans and many other plants and animals, such as oxygen, contributing “between 50 to 85 percent of the oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere…”, food sources, etc. Because phytoplankton live on the surface of the ocean, exactly where the Great Garbage Patch is located in the ocean, phytoplankton is currently dying off in large numbers after coming in contact with the dangerous substance humans have created, microplastics. With the abundant amounts of microplastics in the ocean, ocean currents have safely disposed the microplastics to concentrated clumps rather than dispersing the pollution throughout the ocean, which would be more dangerous to the phytoplankton, and, as a result, us humans.
As phytoplankton, humans’ main source of oxygen dies off, humans will die off with it, ironically-for humans ultimately brought themselves to their own demise; despite this, humans are not necessarily doomed to destruction because of this situation. Extensive cleaning in addition to the complete ban on all ocean dumping and littering can reduce the severity of the issue as long as the amount of plastics in the ocean does not increase. Future research on plastic can hopefully find a way to eliminate the plastic waste humans currently have.
<Leo Yu Portola HS 9th Grade