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Why This Matters: Plastic pollution is an environmental plague often discussed alongside climate change, but this new research affirms just how intertwined the two are. The world currently produces about 300 million tons of plastic waste every year with only 20 petrochemical companies producing more than half of the world’s single-use plastic. One of the many problems with plastic waste is that it doesn’t stay put. Instead, it decomposes into tiny microfibersthat can travel over land and sea. While now understanding how microplastics impact our world, the production of plastics hasn’t stopped.
Cold, Shiny, Hard Plastic
One of the lead researchers behind the study, Dr. Laura Revell, explained that microplastics are “light enough to be transported by the wind over large distances.” She describes a “plastic cycle,” in which microplastics move between different parts of the earth’s environment. They can be kicked up in sea spray or wind currents, and aerial studies have found them at atmospheric altitudes of 3.5 kilometers.
Many aerosols, including soot and ash, can also travel extremely long distances, either scattering sunlight and cooling the atmosphere, or absorbing sunlight and warming it. But what sets microplastics apart is that they do both, and though their contribution to warming is minimal now, it will likely increase as plastic production and waste increases, making its impact comparable to that of other aerosols.
By WW0 Staff For the United States, the post-Trump, pre-COP26 road to Glasgow has been paved with ambition and humility. In a major speech, the President’s Envoy, John Kerry, previewed the results of his climate diplomacy before heading into two weeks of intense deliberations of world leaders. Speaking at the London School of Economics — […]
Next week, the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow will draw hundreds of world leaders to Glasgow to determine the path forward five years after the Paris Climate Agreement (for a primer, read this) as new science underscores the urgency. The conference aims to squeeze countries to strengthen the commitments they’ve made towards securing global net-zero […]
By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor In a report released last week, the Department of Defense (DOD) confirmed that existing risks and security challenges in the US are being made worse due to “increasing temperatures; changing precipitation patterns; and more frequent, intense, and unpredictable extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Now, the Pentagon is […]
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