Paulina Soria California

Letter to The Next President

The United States as a whole should strive to work together to keep our oceans clean, and with your help, we as a nation could finally make that change.

Dear Next President,

   With ocean pollution going around not only the United States, but the world, it’s starting to become a greater concern as time goes by. And I think that the United States as a whole should strive to work together to keep our oceans clean.

   The fact that the ocean is polluted is affecting a lot more than just the sea creatures living in it. According to the ScienceNews website, when plastic reaches the ocean, many factors such as the sun, waves, and wind reduce it to tiny fragments floating on the surface. As mentioned in the same article, “7,000 to 35,000 tons of plastic debris floats on the sea surface. That would mean 99 percent of the plastic thought to be in the oceans is missing.” This missing plastic is said to be the very fragments floating on the surface, and piles of trash hanging out somewhere at the bottom. But with how tiny these fragments end up, it ends up found in the stomachs of small filter feeders, like lantern fish, since their prey is the same size, they confuse them for food. With these fish being the main pray for commercial fish like tuna and swordfish, it’s increasing health risks for humans as the chemicals follow through the food chain.

   This issue matters to the world because with the ocean making up such a big part of the earth, it’s an important part of life for us. As of recently, 2015, an article was written in Science News for Students talking about how trash from Europe and North America has started to reach the Arctic waters, making it no longer a vast wilderness. This is bad, because that’s us. We are a part of the problem. All of the trash floating down rivers, garbage that was blown away and even from fishing gear that was lost at sea and abandoned. As of 2015, there were 5 garbage patches, as the Barents Sea was looking to be the possible 6th some time in the future. “Humans generate more than 300 million tons of plastic annually... and nearly half of the plastic is only used one time before it is tossed away to eventually find its way to the oceans.” While it is argued that it’s more important to focus on the health and convenience of the overall population, it must be considered that over a longer period of time this will be a bigger health risk. Ocean pollution isn’t just the cause of early death for animals that are ingesting it, but with humans eating the fish with plastic in their systems, it’s increasing the risk of cancer and other health issues.

   With producers and manufacturers being on one side of the argument, while the environmental NGO’s, policy makers and scientists are on the other, there is some controversy to this issue. The producers will argue that the issue could simply be fixed by more recycling, but we have to remember that not all products are designed in a way that they can’t be recyclable.

   As there is no point in addressing a problem without offering some form of suggestion, I have a few ideas that I found were helpful that could use more attention. What has been tried was that on June 3rd, of 2014, an ocean cleanup was founded by a guy named Dutchman Boyan Slat. Some word got around of how he had thought of a way to use natural ocean currents and winds to transport plastic towards a collection platform. He got this idea by thinking of a way that the ocean could be used to clean the ocean. He calculated that within 10 years, almost half of the plastic could be removed. As of that time, what was able to be researched and completed had been because of a crowd fund, but in order for them to reach new phases, money is needed. They started a new crowd funding, and by September 15, 2014, the 2 million dollars had been raised. The Ocean Cleanup is doing what is needed so that by 2020, they can start the Pacific Cleanup.

   A possible way to help the problem of ocean plastic pollution could be to help organizations as these, where they already know what they are doing and how they will do it. This could be a way to fix some of what has been done, meanwhile there should be things being taken care of to prevent it. An idea I found on an awareness website for “Garbage Islands” was biodegradable plastic being used more. This would mean having something with the properties of plastic, without the long lasting property. If a piece were to ever get lost in nature, it would be completely decomposed in organic materials.

   Now these are just two ideas that I think wouldn’t be all that difficult to get around to or get behind. And as the next president, I hope you are able to do something for the benefit of us all.