Garbage in the Ocean Is a Serious Threat

The scale of contamination of the marine environment by plastic debris is vast.


In the following viewpoint the environmental organization Greenpeace contends that garbage in the ocean, or marine debris, is a serious problem that threatens both humans and wildlife. Garbage in the ocean—such as plastic bags, nets, and ropes—traps animals and birds, injuring or killing them. Other animals ingest marine debris, hurting themselves and passing toxic chemicals up the food chain. Still other animals use plastic debris to hitch rides to areas of the ocean where they do not naturally live, creating problems. Boats and ships may also get entangled in marine debris, raising safety concerns and incurring ship repair costs. The author further suggests that trash in the ocean may cause a loss of tourism dollars because people do not want to recreate in polluted water. For all these reasons, Greenpeace concludes that ocean garbage is a serious problem, one that will require education, responsibility, and action to reduce the threat.

Greenpeace is a nonprofit organization that uses peaceful, direct action to bring attention to global environmental problems.

Michelle Allsopp, Adam Walters, David Santillo, and Paul Johnston, Plastic Debris in the World's Oceans, Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Greenpeace International, 2006. Reproduced by permission.

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