We need to act very soon against the plastic debris in the ocean. But not without scientific evidence. This evidence should be collated by an organisation comparable with IPCC, the climate panel of the United Nations, urges Utrecht researcher and leader of the Tracking of Plastics in Our Seas project, Erik van Sebille.
This blog was published on 28 June 2018 on the climate blog of the NRC.
Whenever we, scientists, set out to find plastic in the ocean, we find it. This is extremely alarming. Every year, an estimated eight million tonnes of plastic waste enters the ocean. Even more disturbing is that vast areas of amassed plastic on the oceans' surface equals a mere 1% of all the plastic that ever ended up in the ocean.
I started a research project in 2017, aspiring to map out all of the plastic in the oceans. As a result of this a two-dimensional matrix model that predicts the movement of plastic on the surface has been made, which can be installed on an ordinary laptop. But if you use this model to add up the total amount of plastic that is already discarded in the ocean, you come up with around 250,000 tonnes. That is far too low. So, the question is: where has the rest gone?