[Music] PLASTIC OCEAN
Plastic is wonderful because it's durable
and plastic is terrible because it is
Almost every piece of plastic ever made
is still on the planet in some form or another.
Plastic production globally this year
is expected to be more than 300 million tons. Half of which we'll use just once
and then throw away.
By 2050, when the population explodes to almost
10 billion people, it's expected that
plastic production will triple.
The problem with that is is that today only
a fraction of the plastic that we
produce is recycled. The rest ends up in
our environment and it's coating our
lands and our oceans like a disease.
Garbage thrown away in the United States
can make its way to Antarctica.
Plastic in our coastal waters is pulled into the
center of massive wind-driven turning
circular GYRES. There are many other
ocean currents also diverting the trash
all around the surface of the ocean.
In reality, it's just one ocean with no boundaries.
Lord Howe Island is a world heritage site,
and home to migratory seabirds like
the Shearwater. Seabirds are incredibly
helpful because they act like an army of
scientists. They travel thousands of
miles across the ocean. They pick up
plastic off the surface of the ocean.
They bring it back to their rookeries
where they feed it to their
chicks and that provides an incredible
amount of scientific data in terms of
where the plastic comes from,
its distribution and how it breaks up on the ocean surface.
Dr. Jennifer Lavers,
she devoted her life to studying the plight of seabirds.
Shearwaters are incredible birds,
they migrate thousands of miles
stopping only here to breed.
Dr. Jennifer Lavers: Yeah, the stomach it's very, very full and
if we look here there's some very dark pieces
some very light white pieces, and
if you see, you know, as I push on this,
it's absolutely rigid, completely
completely full of plastic all the way up,
Assistant: Oh, look at that!
Dr. Jennifer Lavis: Absolutely no doubt,
that this bird died as a result of that plastic,
that is literally a gut full of plastic
It's quite alarming, isn't it?
Assistant: It's awful.
Dr. Jennifer Lavis: A range of plastic types and colors
got everything from the blues and the reds.
Assistant: The stomach's just filled with it big pieces, too
Dr. Jennifer Lavis: Big sharp pieces
Assistant: Oh wow, look at the size of that big black peice.
Dr. Jennifer Lavis: That is an enormous piece of plastic
Assistant: Unbelievable! Look at the size of that
Assistant: Jen, I counted 234 pieces of plastics
out of that one bird. Is that a record?
Dr. Jennifer Lavis: Not even close, unfortunately,
so for the species, the record is 276
pieces of plastic inside of one 90-day
old chick, That plastic's weighed out,
accounted for 15% of that bird's body mass,
So that's a pretty scary statistic.
If we translate that into human terms,
it gets even worse that would be equivalent
to you and I, having somewhere around six
or eight kilos of plastic inside of your stomach.
It's equivalent to about
twelve pizzas, worth of food inside of your stomach.
Dr. Jennifer Lavis: It's quite a bit of plastic for just one little bird.
The parents were trying to do the
right thing, there's a lot of
squid beaks in here and there's a purple
color, evidence of the squid ink.
It's just a shame that every now and then
they they got it wrong and got it wrong
in a bad way.
Really, it's quite an overwhelming thing.
I do have some pretty rough days, have to
go home, and really wrap my mind around
where do we go from here.
Peter Thomson: As a Pacific Islander, I know that the ocean is in
deep trouble. The very authoritative
prediction shows that by the year 2050,
there will be as much plastic as there
is fish in the ocean by weight.
Peter Thomson: Every country uses plastic. We need to
start rationalizing that we need to
think about reusing of plastic, single-use plastic.
It's got to be on its way out,
and you know, plastic shopping bags are a
good example of that your family does,
not need to use them. Take a...a cloth bag
with you when you go shopping and put
your shopping in there.
Peter Thomson: There's an equivalent of a large garbage
truck every minute of every day backing
up to the ocean and just dumping plastic into it.
We really have to look at
ourselves and say: "Do we deserve this
beautiful ocean that was given to us?"