Ocean Plastic Pollution
The world today has started to go downhill rapidly, especially in the ocean. Marine debris, also known as ocean trash, is a man-made material which is been left behind by its owners, in other words, “abandoned” along the coastline and all over the ocean. This environmental ocean pollution that humans currently creating not only impacts heavily on our population and resource scarcity but is also starting to destroy the environment and driving native species to the edge of extinction. Marine debris is currently creating huge pollution impact not only on marine species but also on the human natural environment and resources and needs to be controlled. Therefore, in this paper, I will examine the problem of plastic pollution and compare how the approaches of “population and scarcity” and “institution of the commons applies to this problem. I argue that “Institution and the commons” is the best approach to understanding and addressing the problem of ocean plastic because there will be some set of rules or laws need to be established to maintain and keep this disaster under control.
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Today marine debris can be found almost everywhere in the ocean. Most marine debris are estimated to be seventy percent from sources that come from the land and the other thirty percent comes from ocean vessels (Ramirez-Llodra et al, 2011). Marine debris such as plastics, glass, metals, and many other materials that were manufactured are mostly found flowing around the Pacific Ocean. Most of it is coming from beaches (Law, 2014). For example, about eighty percent of all marine trash found along the coast of Southern California beaches is made up of plastics (Cozar et al, 2014). Once tides begin to approach, the water will wash all those plastics away and carry them out to the open sea. This will also create the huge problem since plastic is not “biodegradable,” which mean it doesn’t break down easily as other materials (Borrelle et al, 2017). Moreover, once plastic does begin to break down by sunlight over time it becomes something known as “microplastics”, which can cost many marine species lives if accidentally eaten or swallowed (Hirai et al, 2011).
According to Watts, sea creatures such as sharks, whales, dolphins and many other species are often trapped inside discarded plastic items that have been dumped into their home. Plastics not only impact marine species who are living under the ocean surface, but it also creates huge impacts on bird species who are inhabiting along the coast. People have found tiny plastics fragments inside the stomach of many dead creatures along the Pacific Coast. Plastic brings pollution into the ocean, which will affect much wildlife all around the areas. Microplastics can be found in the oceans all over the world and may cause hormone imbalance in some creatures, which can disturb reproduction because highly chemical pollutants come from those tiny fragments of plastic (Watts, 2013).
The major problem contributing to marine debris is human overpopulation. “Population and scarcity” means populations outgrow their resources, in other words, “overpopulation” means there may not be enough resources to support the population on Earth to continue to grow and reproduce. Furthermore, agricultural industries of food production and the harvesting of natural resources can’t keep up with this rapid increase in the population under such an unexpected circumstance. Resources scarcity will start to hit the population in the long-term, and many other side effects such as pestilence, war, famine, and death will also approach (this is also a natural solution). IPAT model which stand for “The Impact Population Affluence Technology” (Song, 2011) would be a perfect example to use to connect this approach to the ocean plastic pollution that currently taken place in California. “Impact” on the environment because of ocean pollution which currently takes place which will also lead to the effect on the human “Population” because most of our resources are coming from the ocean. “Affluence” will begin to be shaking and the important in “Technology” use could either reduce or make the pollution impact, even more, worse than before.
Oceans cover roughly 71% of earth’s surface and contain 97% of the planet’s water. Therefore, many of the food resources, from tunas to lobsters and crabs and all the way to minerals such as salt, copper, and nickel can be found in the depth of the sea. However, ocean pollution will most likely create a huge impact on marine ecosystems and many fish and other species will die because of marine debris. Furthermore, this will also lead to decrease in population of sea creatures, and increase in resources scarcity. We, humans, depend heavily on the ocean resource production and if these problems continue to go on like this, soon our sea environment will collapse, and our ecosystem cycle will start to crumble.
“Institution and the common” is the idea of establishing the set of laws and rules over common property and open access resources, then make everyone follow those specific systems. The main purpose is to prevents the tragedy of the commons, such as overfishing, bycatching, and polluting from overwhelming the natural environmental habitat. Furthermore, ocean trash is the tragedy that is already spreading all over the southwest coast of California and it slowly turns the ocean from the natural habits for marine species into dead zones filled with plastics all over the ocean undersurface (Xanthos et al, 2017).
Both “population and scarcity” and “institution and the common” are very important on their aspect point of view in this ocean plastics pollution. Each plays their own individual role in this environmental pollution disaster. However, population and scarcity are mainly focusing on providing resources and supplies such as foods and useful goods in such a scarce situation, due to the overpopulation. Most of that supply-demand are coming from the ocean, same place that humanity been polluted and poisoned by discarded unusable goods (Xanthos, 2017). California is on the top list of one of the most overpopulating states in the entire United States with the population of 39,506,394 that is 12.14% out of the entire country population (Cozar et al, 2014). That mean more food and supplies required to run the population, this also means more plastics will need to be made to contain all those foods and useful goods. But sometimes people just too lazy to get up and throw their trash away after the long and wild day at the beach. Instead, our selfish human nature only cares what best and easy for us without putting any thought or pay attention to the environment or any species living around (Borrelle et al, 2017). Therefore, many people had abandon countless plastic materials along the beach without any thought of their action could bring up to the very serious consequence. Furthermore, by doing that, it will lead to scarcer on resources such as fish and other even more, because most are already been killed by marine debris and microplastics.
Meanwhile, as for the institution of the commons, since Southern California beach is always being view as opening access to everyone around the area, establishing some injunction and commandment along the coast is not a bad idea either (Michelle, 2014). First, it will prevent not all but most trash such as plastics debris from getting in even more. Second, clean up duties could begin along the coast and ocean wide. Third, less plastic pollution means marine species can continuing to live and reproduces, that also providing more beneficial in the term of foods entering from the ocean for the human population to continuing to grow and evolve. However, that only a part of the institution’s solution, there is still much marine debris that lays under and above the ocean surface, which will need to come up with solutions and supports to remove. Therefore, the institution of the commons seen the best solution for this environmental problem. Not one hundred percent guarantee this will stop ocean debris once and for all, but this is a good first step to take if haven’t already to start and renewing the ocean back to it glorious stage like it was before (Rakestraw,2012).
Over these past few years, many actions have been taken place both in and out along the California Coast. People coming up with a lot of different ideas and most of its are really cost efficient because it is involved a lot of manpower and come with it are the cost and the price. One of the most relevant ways is to send out the massive ocean garbage collector and let it flow around along the ocean, the main purpose is to trap in as much marine trash which currently flowing on the ocean surface (Michelle, 2014). First, the system is very cheap to build compared to all the expensive machinery and manpower. Second, according to Michelle the very first prototype has already been tested on the North Sea of Netherlands as the result it collected over two thousand plastics from different sources and it estimated to be 5% out of all ocean trash. So far, this method is the good beginning of the bigger goal. However, there are still some improvements required to make this barrier system even stronger and harder to break under all harsh conditions that the ocean has to offer. Barrier systems are planning to be deployed by the team of Ocean Garbage Collector in the year of 2020 between the area of California and Hawaii where it will require the most of cleaning effort (Michelle, 2014).
Ocean pollution has been a huge problem that California has faced over these past few years. Many beautiful sea creatures have fallen into victims of this deadly environmental pollution that human has poisoned upon them. Humanity is slowly killing this magnificent realm by taking everything, they want out of the ocean such as fish and many other marine resources, and then dumping in everything that they’re don’t want such as trash and garbage. Furthermore, if not keeping this disaster under control by begin to act right now, soon there will be more plastics sources than any marine resources and species throughout not only California but the entire ocean. However, there are methods to prevent this from happening. That is why “Institution of the commons” is the best application to addressing this problem. By providing more coast guards and law enforcement in red zones region, hopefully, that will stop more garbage from entering the ocean and dealing more damages to marine life diversity ecosystems and other environments. From there cleanup duties would be so much easier to deals with along the Southern Coast.
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