Plastics pose a threat to the environment because the breakdown of different types of plastic leads to the release of various toxic chemicals. Plastic debris prior to decomposition also poses a variety of risks to wildlife and ecosystems.
Chemist Katsuhiko Saido of Nihon University in Japan led a team of researchers to discover that plastic breaks down quickly in the ocean, releasing chemicals such as bisphenol A, or BPA, and styrene trimer. Styrene trimer is potentially carcinogenic, while BPA interferes with animal endocrine systems, disrupting reproductive function. This same breakdown may also occur in landfills where chemicals potentially leech into groundwater supplies. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 93 percent of people exhibit discernible levels of bisphenol A in urine. In the world's waterways, these toxins extend beyond the water's surface. Many of these toxic molecules are heavier than water, meaning they slowly sink and disperse throughout the water column. Warm, tropical waters are more susceptible to this breakdown, as breakdown occurs more quickly in warmer temperatures.
Aside from chemical byproducts, intact plastics pose an environmental threat. Many animals accidentally ingest plastic products, sometimes with fatal results. Plastic bags and soda rings also entangle unlucky wildlife, sometimes preventing the mouth from opening or causing suffocation. Invasive species may also hitch rides on floating plastic debris in water.Learn More
Each ton of recycled paper saves 17 trees and a multitude of other resources such as oil, water, landfill space and the energy used to produce paper. The average person in the United States uses approximately seven trees per year in various paper products, totaling 2,000,000,000 trees per year.Full Answer >
Humans adapt to changes in the environment by genetic change, developmental adjustments, acclimatization, and cultural or technological advances. Of these, the fourth is almost uniquely human and has been the key to the species' success worldwide.Full Answer >
Strip mining involves removing the surface layers of earth, called the overburden, in rectangular strips to mine the mineral reserve underneath them. After a strip of ore is mined, another strip is prepared next to it. The waste rock from the overburden of the second strip is used to fill the first one. Typically, coal or other sedimentary rocks that lie near the earth's surface are strip mined.Full Answer >
Humans are destroying the environment through ways such as burning fossil fuels, deforestation, farming and industry, all of which produce copious amounts of greenhouse gases. The phenomenon of global warming is argued to be caused by humans due to the many ways humans pollute the environment with greenhouse gases.Full Answer >