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Earth Day 2024 and the environmental challenges posed by plastics • NC Newsline



Earth Day 2024 and the environmental challenges posed by plastics • NC Newsline

In the present day within the 55th Earth Day – an annual commemoration that was, amazingly sufficient, conceived and launched in 1970 by an unlikely bipartisan pair of American politicians — Democratic U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin and Republican U.S. Consultant Pete McCloskey of California.

The “historical past” part of the Earth Day web site gives a robust reminder of each how totally different that period was in some ways from our personal – the anti-Vietnam Warfare motion, for example, was integral to the launch of the occasion — but in addition in different methods, (as an period that was then affected by “oil spills, polluting factories and energy vegetation, uncooked sewage, poisonous dumps, pesticides, freeways, the lack of wilderness and the extinction of wildlife” and wherein younger folks have been deeply involved about their future wellbeing), how a lot our two instances have in widespread.

That is from the web site:

“Impressed by the scholar anti-war motion, Senator Nelson needed to infuse the power of scholar anti-war protests with an rising public consciousness about air and water air pollution. Senator Nelson introduced the concept for a teach-in on school campuses to the nationwide media, and persuaded Pete McCloskey, a conservation-minded Republican Congressman, to function his co-chair.

…Nelson recruited Denis Hayes, a younger activist, to arrange the campus teach-ins and to scale the concept to a broader public, they usually select April 22, a weekday falling between Spring Break and Last Exams, to maximise the best scholar participation.”

The web site relates that underneath the management of Hayes and the workers he put collectively, the motion took off and by its launch on April 22, 1970, “20 million Individuals — on the time, 10% of the overall inhabitants of the US — [took to] the streets, parks and auditoriums to display towards the impacts of 150 years of commercial growth which had left a rising legacy of significant human well being impacts.”

What’s extra, the occasion instantly helped spark a flurry of progressive nationwide coverage change in Washington – a time wherein Republican Richard Nixon served within the White Home:

“By the tip of 1970, the primary Earth Day led to the creation of the US Environmental Safety Company and the passage of different first-of-their-kind environmental legal guidelines, together with the Nationwide Environmental Training Act, the Occupational Security and Well being Act, and the Clear Air Act. Two years later congress handed the Clear Water Act.”

As folks around the globe commemorate Earth Day 2024, environmental degradation is, tragically, a vastly extra severe risk than it was in 1970. Whether or not it’s the local weather emergency and more and more extreme climate patterns it’s spurring, sea-level rise and desertification, international species extinction, water and air air pollution, the unfold of poisonous “perpetually chemical substances” like PFAS, the current technology has its work reduce out for it.

One particularly pressing situation to which the Earth Day web site devotes particular consideration in 2024 is the plague of plastics and the worldwide “60X40 motion” that seeks to cut back international plastic manufacturing 60% by the yr 2040.

Listed below are a number of the key details recognized:

9.1 billion – quantity in tons of plastic produced since plastic was first launched in 1950

79 – share of all plastic ever produced that also sits in landfills or the pure surroundings

50 billion – variety of plastic water bottles (about 156 bottles per particular person) bought by Individuals annually

5 trillion – estimated variety of plastic luggage used globally yearly

25 billion – variety of Styrofoam espresso cups thrown away by American annually

14 million – quantity of plastic in tons that finally ends up on the earth’s oceans annually, a lot of it within the type of harmful microplastics that

75 to 199 million – estimated quantity of plastic in tons at the moment on the earth’s oceans

2050 – the yr at which it’s estimated the mixed weight of all plastic on the earth’s oceans will exceed the mixed weight of all fish within the oceans

Greater than 70,000 – common variety of microplastic particles that every American ingests of their ingesting water provide annually

As a lot as 23 instances better – the quantity of terrestrial microplastic air pollution in comparison with marine plastic air pollution — air pollution that contaminates the soil and waterways and enters the meals chain when animals by accident ingest it

99.9% – estimated effectivity of biologically-active sluggish sand filters, that are utilized in some water therapy vegetation for decontamination functions, in eradicating microplastics from ingesting water

80% – quantity annual flows of plastic into the oceans could possibly be decreased by 2040 by the applying of current approaches to cut back our consumption of single-use plastics and the adoption of eco-friendly options

For extra data on Earth Day and the above statistics, go to

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