I-SearchPaper: Plastic Contamination in Oceans
What I Know
Iam aware of the extensive damage caused by companies and humanactivities in the oceans. These activities have not just endangeredaquatic life they have also impacted the human populace negatively.Articles and magazines on plastic pollution have accentuated thispremise the vice has been labeled a "silent killer." Also,unlike natural-based paper, plastic does not decompose it onlybreaks down into smaller pieces. Consequently, every piece of plasticthat has ever been manufactured still exists to date. Urban areashave been identified as the main trouble areas, that is, where theplastic menace is greatest.
Beforeconducting my research, I supposed that most companies dumped theirproducts into the sea to avoid the additional costs associated withimplementing environmentally safe methods of getting rid of plastic.As a result, such business practices impacted marine life, humanactivity, and other industries negatively. For example, due toplastic contamination, many aquatic animals ingested plasticproducts, which, in the end, led to their death since plastic cannotbe digested. Toxins in the water also found their way into the foodthat people consume, resulting in the development of chronicailments.
Iattributed the increase in chronic diseases in the world today toplastic contamination in oceans. A few months before conducting myresearch on plastic contamination in oceans, I read, in an onlineresource, that mercury pollution is already widespread in food fish(Craig 31). The resource, in addition, posited that 70% of theaffected states, in the US, were placed under fish consumptionadvisories for mercury. These assertions confirmed my allegations.Plastic contains mercury thus, plastic contamination in oceans meantthat the mercury levels in the oceans went higher every time plasticwas dumped in the sea. Since mercury can be fatal to the nervous,immune, and digestive systems of human beings, more plasticcontamination means increases in health issues associated with theseorgans.
Nonetheless,in spite of my apparent in-depth understanding of my research topic,I could not ascertain that all the information that I had wasauthoritative. Also, I did not have the statistics that brought intoview the real impact of plastic pollution on oceans. Researching onthese facts, therefore, would not only better my understanding ofplastic pollution but also help me gain deeper insight into theactual state of plastic contamination in oceans.
Why I chose this Topic
Myresearch topic aroused interest in me because it is a problem thatreceives little attention from the masses and researchers. I alsowanted to know what I could do, at a personal level, to help create adesirable change. I always perceived plastic contamination as being areal threat because aquatic animals contribute significantly to theglobal food basket. Thus, if sea animals are exterminated, humanbeings will suffer the ills of inadequate food supply profoundly.
AsI pointed out earlier, little attention is directed to plasticpollution in oceans. Thus, people do not know the health impacts ofdumping plastic in oceans. Approximately 90% of marine debris that isfound on Sydney`s beaches is plastic, with most of it being strawsand bottle caps (Australian Marine Conservation Society). Thesestatistics indicate that people are very oblivious to their actions.Also, the businesses that vend these products (beverages) in areasclose to beaches do not consider the result of their operationsthus, in the end, they escalate the negative impacts of plasticpollution in oceans.
Consideringthe above, I felt obliged to bring to bear the impacts of plasticcontamination on oceans. Even if I did not have adequate resources toinitiate a nationwide campaign against plastic pollution in oceans, Iwould, at least, talk to my peers and the people close to me andinfluence them to find ways of bringing down the level of plasticcontamination in oceans. With the knowledge that I would acquire frommy research, I would be able to answer most questions that would beadvanced as I equipped my relatives, friends, and even acquaintanceswith knowledge about the ills of dumping plastic in the ocean. Also,I intended to start a blog where I would launch a campaign about thedangers of plastic contamination. I assumed that my research wouldcome in handy in this case since I would be in a position to writevery authoritative and well-polished articles on plasticcontamination in oceans. Thus, my research question was, "Whatis the impact of plastic pollution in oceans?"
Beforebeginning my search, I decided first to ponder on the sources thathave the latest but most authoritative information. I settled foronline sources that have been developed by reputable organizations orare from trustworthy databases. I understood the risk of using onlinesources since the information in the online space is not regulatedhowever, my criteria would help me overcome the problem of usinginformation that has not been acknowledged by accredited bodies.
Ibegan by searching information in a myriad of sources using theGoogle platform. I preferred using online articles, journals ande-books to blog posts since there was a high probability that thelatter source would offer me personal information as opposed toresearch-based information. I gathered that online articles offeredinformation that was relatively new as opposed to e-books andjournals. However, all three sources provided me with informationthat was reasonably reliable. For example, one of my sources helpedme coincide my information with my research question relatively well.Statements such as "marine debris is one of the world`s mostpervasive pollution problems" (Allsopp et al. 9) resonated withmy earlier premise regarding ocean pollution.
Irealized more success when developing a case depicting the impactthat human actions and companies had on plastic contamination inoceans. Information in this area was relatively readily available andsomewhat less perplexing to integrate into one coherent argument. Forexample, one of my sources helped me reveal how the irresponsibilityof fishermen leads to the death of aquatic animals long after theseindividuals end their activities (Craig 34). I was also able to provethat plastic contamination is a global issue but has local solutions.My greatest failure, however, came when I could not reveal theparticular countries that contribute significantly to larger amountsof plastic contamination in oceans compared to other nations. Thisinformation would have helped me shame these countries for neglectingtheir responsibilities to their electorate and the world as a whole.
AsI went about my research process, I realized that I had to changesome aspects of my research. Initially, I had decided to develop anargument that revealed both the impacts of plastic pollution onoceans and what can be done to bring this type of contamination down.After commencing my research, I realized that by doing this, I wouldnot be able to address the impacts of plastic pollution in oceansfully. In other words, I would not be able to emphasize the dangerthat plastic pollution poses to the human population if I researchedon both impacts on solutions to plastic pollution in oceans. Thus, Idecided to research on the strategies to combat plastic contaminationin oceans at a later date.
What I Leaned
Icame to the understanding the plastic pollution is a killer thatfloats on the surface of oceans (Australian Marine ConservationSociety). In essence, the plastic bottles in bays, harbors, and thegrocery bags on the beaches are amassing to form a water layer thatwill, eventually, chock sea life. Studies have proven that millionsof tons of plastic reach the oceans every year. Ocean currents pushthese products further into the oceans to the furthest corners of thesea. In fact, plastic debris has been spotted in the Antarcticwilderness. The main problem of plastic is that it does not decomposelike natural-based paper it only disintegrates into smaller pieces.Thus, all the plastic that has ever been produced still exists todate.
Theabove considered, research suggests that all forms of ocean plasticpollution come from the land (Craig 31). Plastic pollution, in largerforms of plastic debris, has been proven to result in the physicalentanglement of marine animals (34). Consequently, these animals mayget hurt, dismembered, or even die. Examples of such animals includeseabirds, which may get their heads stuck in lost and abandonedfishing nets that continue drifting through the oceans. Also, marinespecies may consume plastic trash, especially plastic bags, whichlook a lot like jellyfish, a food item for aquatic animals liketurtles. Once ingested, plastic may inhibit proper nutrition bytaking up space in the digestive system, causing internal damage ordeath through choking.
Marinedebris has grown into a problem that affects the whole world (Allsoppet al. 10). Debris can be noticed floating on the surface of oceans,and has been blamed for polluting the shorelines of both theindustrialized and developing nations. The United Nations Joint Groupof Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Pollution (GESAMP) hasasserted that land-based sources of plastic contamination areresponsible for up to 80% of marine debris the remainder has beenattributed to sea-based activities (11). Sources of marine debrisinclude storm water discharges, littering, solid waste disposal,industrial activities, commercial fishing, and recreational boaters.
Allsopp,Michelle et al. "Plastic Debris In The World’S Oceans".9. Web. 5 July 2016.
AustralianMarine Conservation Society. "Plastic Pollution · Learn ·Australian Marine Conservation Society". Marineconservation.org.au.N.p., 2016. Web. 5 July 2016.
Craig,Robin Kundis. ComparativeOcean Governance.Edward Edgar Publishing. Print.