Study: Plastics – Six articles/reports on how damaging plastics are

This article discusses the impact on sea anemones from global warming and microplastics – it’s not good. Sea anemones affected by bleaching retain microplastics longer than healthy ones. Climate change and plastic pollution are major threats to all marine life, from minuscule crustaceans to gigantic whales. Although many experiments have examined these threats, few have looked at what happens when they both strike at once. At least for the sea anemone, new research from a team at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California, suggests that the combined threat is worse than the sum of its parts.

This GAIA article discusses a report about how bad burning plastics is for the environment. Everyone knows what causes climate change: fossil fuels. What’s less known is that plastic is also a climate polluter, as it is made from fossil fuels, such as crude oil, coal, and natural gas.  New research published by Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) makes this inextricable link visible, by examining greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from each stage of plastic’s lifecycle, from wellhead to refinery, incinerators, and in the oceans.

This article discusses how plastics are hurting the planet in another unexpected way – production of the stuff is on pace to become more damaging than 600 coal-fired power plants. We rarely think about where it all comes from, but we should. According to a new report on the full life cycle of the world’s plastic production, the long-term environmental results are nothing short of a catastrophe. The report from the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) finds the production of plastics — from extraction to manufacture to disposal and steps in between — is a significant source of carbon pollution and set to become a major driver of climate change.

This Environmental Health News article discusses the life cycle of plastic making and how it contributes to climate change. A report finds plastic production and use could have the equivalent impact of nearly 300 new coal power plants on Earth’s climate over the next decade. Each step in the life of a piece of plastic — production, transportation and managing waste — uses fossil fuels and emits greenhouse gases and, as petrochemical and plastic production continues to ramp up, these impacts must be considered, according to the report released today by the Center for International Environmental Law, the Environmental Integrity Project, FracTracker Alliance, the Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives, 5Gyres, and #BreakFreeFromPlastic.

The last article discusses the small pieces of plastics that pollute our oceans are more diverse than we make them out to be. Recognizing their variety may help us find solutions. Scientists have found microplastics nearly everywhere they have looked, from Arctic sea ice to the ocean’s depth. Yet these plastic particles, defined as pieces smaller than five millimeters (about the size of a pencil eraser), are as varied as they are rampant. They can be spherical, fibrous, irregularly shaped, or foamy. And they can be made of hundreds—if not thousands—of different plastic polymers, each with its own chemical properties. “There are almost infinite combinations,” says Kennedy Bucci, a graduate student at the University of Toronto in Ontario who coauthored a recent paper on the diversity of microplastics.

This Daily Climate article discusses a report on how damaging plastics are.

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