Culture / Art Republik

How Plastic and Climate Change Is Affecting the Face of Earth

What we see above the sea is just the tip of the melting iceberg.

May 24, 2018 | By Shirley Wang

President Donald Trump might still be skeptical of climate change, but it is no doubt that the state of our oceans have taken a turn for the worse.

As our oceans are increasingly plagued by plastic pollution and effects of climate change, recent efforts by activists and the media are surfacing with greater public visibility to advocate for more change.

How Plastic and Climate Change Is Affecting the Face of Earth

As group of Finnish activists, called Melting Ice, is looking to raise 400,00 Euros (about $476,988) to fund “Project Trumpmore,” and create the roughly 115 foot-tall ice sculpture in a glacier that is melting. They plan to carve Trump’s image into the side of an Arctic glacier, in hopes of drawing the commander-in-chief’s awareness to the issue.

In a press release, the group’s leader Nicholas Prieto explains the rationale behind the Melting Ice project, “We want to build the monument for all of us, so we can see how long the sculpture lasts before melting.” The location of the sculpture is yet confirmed, but tentatively to be installed in the Arctic.

“Often people only believe something when they see it with their own eyes,”  Nicolas added.

plasticTrump has publicly expressed his doubts that there is a human connection to climate change, a central topic of debate since his election victory. He has voiced his skepticism on social media since years ago, with a 2014 tweet, “Massive record-setting snowstorm and freezing temperatures in U.S. Smart that GLOBAL WARMING hoaxsters changed name to CLIMATE CHANGE!”

His disbelief has also been clearly reflected in his political stance. Not only has the US withdrawn from the Paris climate agreement, calling it “very unfair,” similar efforts have also been revoked, including Obama’s Clean Power Plan and regulations on oil and coal, after being deemed to “be disastrous for the American economy.”

Plastic in our oceans has become a major threat to wildlife. Picture: Jordi Chias/National Geographic

Beyond the issue of ‘global warming’ that has resulted in rising sea levels and unpredictable climate changes, there is also another issue plaguing our oceans that arose exponentially these years. The prominent and deadly plastic pollution in the waters is not just unsightly and impossibly difficult to reverse, the effects have also proven to be absolutely detrimental to nature.

In line with its recently launched “Planet or Plastic?” campaign, National Geographic publishes its June issue with a chilling cover. The cover features a haunting image of an iceberg-resembling plastic bag, partially submerged in the ocean:

The caption reads: The 18 billion pounds of plastic that end up in the ocean each year are “just the tip of the iceberg”.

The image has gone viral on social media, after National Geographic’s senior photo editor Vaughn Wallace tweeted the image of the cover. Created by Mexican artist Jorge Gamboa, many who shared the cover are praising the publication for its clever design that aptly captures the core and ethos of the issue, making this a successful attempt at increasing public engagement regarding climate change.

Along with its campaign to reduce global reliance on single-use plastics, National Geographic will be delivering the magazine in paper wrappers in the U.S., United Kingdom and India instead of plastic.

“Will eliminating a plastic magazine wrapper save the planet? Well, no. But it’s an example of the kind of relatively easy action that every company, every government, and every person can take,” wrote editor-in-chief Susan Goldberg.

“And when you put it together, that adds up to real change,” she added.

A report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation launched in 2017 at the World Economic Forum found the equivalent of a garbage truck worth of plastic bottles is being dumped into the ocean every minute.

“The ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish (by weight),” the report stated.

In February, a sperm whale was discovered dead off the coast of southeast Spain with 64 pounds of plastic trash inside its digestive system. Researchers predict that by 2025, double the amount of plastic waste could annually enter oceans unless radical action is taken.

A stork engulfed by a plastic bag at a landfill in Spain. Picture: John Cancalosi/National Geographic

Experts have warned that the plastic crisis is as bad as climate change. From marine wildlife to coral beds, these are living beings and habitats are precious commodities to our Earth. While we may have the luxury to hide in air-conditioned rooms on hot summer days and a rescue team in times of disasters, do we need Trump’s ice sculpture to melt before we can do more for mother nature?

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