WE JOIN more than 150 countries today in marking the 50th anniversary of the UN-organized World Environment Day event under the campaign #BeatPlasticPollution.
The world, with nearly 7.9 billion people, including 114 million from the Philippines, is being snowed under by plastic, with 300 million metric tons of plastic waste generated each year.
A report by science journal, Nature, determined that currently, roughly 14 million tons of plastic make their way into the oceans every year, harming wildlife habitats and the animals that live in them.
Chlorinated plastic can release harmful chemicals into the surrounding soil, which can then seep into groundwater or other surrounding water sources, and also the ecosystem.
This can cause a range of potentially harmful effects on the species that drink the water.
Once the plastic is in the ocean, it decomposes very slowly, breaking into tiny pieces known as microplastics, which can enter the marine food chain and become incredibly damaging to sea life.
The main source of ocean plastic pollution is land-based – 80 percent of plastic in the ocean originates on land.
Ecologists and preservationists say the toxic chemical additives and pollutants found in plastics threaten human health on a global scale.
Scientifically-proven health effects include causing cancer or changing hormone activity, known as endocrine disruption, which can lead to reproductive, growth, and cognitive impairment.
It threatens ecosystems, animal and plant species, impeding their ability to deliver essential services to humanity.
While the leakage of plastics into the ocean and the subsequent impacts of marine life has been most studied, plastic pollution also affect freshwater and terrestrial ecosystems.
Marine species ingest or are entangled by plastic debris, which causes severe injuries and death.
Plastic pollution threatens food safety and quality, human health, coastal tourism, and contributes to climate change.
There is indeed urgency in the call to hold hands and save planet Earth, with trees identified as the lungs of the world, and therefore planting more trees is required to help save Mother Earth so the oceans will be blue, the planet green, and the animals safe.
And we see the hands of the staff of the Manila Standard the other day as they stood to the environmental challenge by planting 350 saplings in the 2,659-hectare La Mesa Dam which contains the last remaining rainforest of its size in Metro Manila.
The young trees they planted assuredly will eventually help contribute to a clean environment by improving air quality through the process of photosynthesis, the process by which plants use sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to create oxygen and energy in the form of sugar.