A team of researchers have discovered large piece of polystyrene floating less than 1000-miles from the North Pole.
The shocking discovery was made by the Arctic Mission team, a British-led expedition that had set out to explore previously inaccessible waters due to melting sea ice.
The discovery of plastic rubbish so far north is not only a worrying sign because it suggests melting ice is allowing this rubbish to float to the surface but also of the larger more concerning issue surrounding global plastic pollution.
“For the 25 years I have been exploring the Arctic I have never seen such large and very visible items of rubbish,” said mission leader Pen Hadow to the Observer.
According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, some eight million tonnes of plastics are leaked into the ocean every single year.
To put that another way, that’s a single rubbish truck dumping all its waste into the ocean every single minute.
This rate of consumption and pollution is, as you can imagine, frankly unsustainable so much so that the Foundation warns that by 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.
What’s even more worrying is that the only reason the expedition was able to sail so far north is because of climate change.
Just last week it was revealed by the National Snow and Ice Data Center that Arctic sea ice reached its eight lowest point on record.
Often referred to as the planet’s air conditioner, Arctic sea ice plays a vital role in helping to regulate the planet’s global temperature. As it expands in the winter months it is able to reflect the Sun’s energy back into space thus keeping the planet cooler.
Of course as sea ice melts have increased dramatically, this has made it far harder for the planet to maintain a regulated temperature.