our planet - where did all our pollution go?
Our Oceans cover 70 per cent of the Earth's surface none of which is immune from pollution, as ocean currents transport pollutants to every corner of our planet.
Did you know
- 70-80% of all marine pollution orginates from land based sources
- Every year, rivers and streams transport roughly 25 billion tons of eroded sediment into coastal waters, smothering near shore ecosystems and fouling shallow waters habitats
- Plastic waste kills up to 1 million sea birds, 100,000 sea mammals and countless fish each year. Plastic does not decompose easily, so can remain in the ecosystem for many years to kill again and again
- Average sea level has risen between 10 and 25 centimetres in the past 100 years. If all of the world's ice melted, the oceans would rise by 66 metres
- Less than one half a per cent of marine habitats are protected
- Every year ships at sea discharge somewhere between 5 and 50 million tons of oil. Most of this is the result of the routine discharge of engine wastes and bilge slops, in direct violation of international treaties
- Over the past decade, an average of 600,000 barrels of oil a year has been accidentally spilled from ships, the equivalent of 12 disasters the size of the sinking of the oil tanker Prestige in 2002
- Each year, three times as much rubbish is dumped into the world's oceans as the weight of fish caught
- Around the world, untreated sewage flows into coastal waters, carrying organic waste and nutrients that can lead to oxygen depletion, as well as disease-causing bacteria and parasites that require closing beaches and shellfish beds
- Australia's northern beaches are being swamped by tons of marine debris - plastic bottles, rubber thongs, fishing nets and weather balloons. It took 10 people 10 days to clean up nine km of beach in remote north-east Arnhem Land. Of greatest concern are the large numbers of fishing nets which are lethal to wildlife
- The rapid build-up of pollution, particularly oxygen-consuming phosphorus and nitrogen from agricultural activities (fertilizers), has turned 100,000 square kilometres of the Baltic’s deeper waters into an oxygen-starved "dead sea"
- The countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea dump 30-50 million tons of untreated or partially treated urban wastes and sewage into coastal waters every year
- Air pollution is responsible for 33% of the toxic contaminants that end up in oceans and coastal waters. About 44% of the toxic contaminants come from runoff via rivers and streams
- Corral reefs the rainforests of the sea are also being destroyed. Of the world's 600,000 square kilometers of reefs found in tropical and semi-tropical seas, scientists estimate that 70 per cent of them - some 400,000 square kms - could be lost within two decades if nothing is done to preserve them
- Antarctica has as much ice as the Atlantic Ocean has water
[sources: marinebio.org, Alaskan Oceans Program, People & the Planet 2004]
So what can we do
However small a contribution we can make it only takes one, then another one to follow that one, then before you know you have million or even a billion. If it sounds naive think again.