Millions in the country were shocked when they saw the mess caused by plastic in our oceans on ‘Blue Planet II’, but now a new BBC documentary exposes the true scale of the crisis – and it is frightening.
We had a chance to watch the documentary and at times it makes for tough and emotionally exhausting watching, but that only reinforces the need to raise awareness around the issue.
A lot of the programme is dedicated to the impact plastic is having on marine life, with scenes of birds so full of plastic they’re unable to take off and seals being strangled by plastic netting being very difficult to watch.
We already know that plastic can have a devastating impact – just one piece of litter can kill a turtle – yet at times, presenter Liz Bonnin finds the scale of the issue too much, with many tears spilt.
Action is being taken around the world to come up with unique ways to deal with the crisis, from water bottles being replaced by pouches made from seaweed, to a giant floating vacuum cleaner hoovering up sea rubbish.
But in the documentary, there’s a palpable sense of exasperation felt by Bonnin and the people trying to deal with the crisis that they’re barely scratching the surface of the issue. If things stay the way they are, by 2050 there will be more plastic in our planet’s oceans than fish.
Plastic has been found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench – the deepest known place on earth – and at the North Pole, it’s having a negative affect on every single marine ecosystem.
Only 11 per cent of plastic is recycled and for many places in the world the focus is still on plastic production. If nothing changes, the amount of plastic produced in 2050 will be 500 times higher per year than it is now.
The real takeaway from the documentary is just how ignorant the world is of the problem. A lot of awareness has been raised about climate change, but the scientific and political worlds are only just waking up to the issue of plastic pollution.
Problems that are only just coming to light but have potentially devastating consequences for all aspects of marine life. Microplastics, tiny plastic pieces and fibres less than a millimetre big are being found in remote geographies and getting into every part of the food chain, including humans. Coral reefs, already under deadly threat from climate change, are being attacked by deadly coral-killing bacteria which is being carried by plastic, increasing natural levels from four per cent to 89 per cent.
All of this is happening while every single minute a full rubbish lorry worth of plastic is dumped into the ocean.
This is why this documentary is a must-watch, because it’s only if we raise awareness, tell our friends and spread the message that humanity will really have a chance at saving our oceans.
‘Drowning In Plastic’ is airs at 8.30pm Monday October 1.