Speaking to the Associated Press, Denise Hardesty, co-author of the study, painted a worrisome portrait.
“It’s pretty astronomical,” she said. “I have seen everything from cigarette lighters . . . to bottle caps to model cars. I’ve found toys. In the next 11 years we will make as much plastic as has been made since industrial plastic production began in the 1950s.”
The massive study, which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, was not all doom and gloom, however. Due to the relative ease to information on both plastic production and distribution, and seabird biology and populations, the scientists are confident in their ability to predict – and therefore manage – future ecological issues.
“This model can also be used in reverse, studying the local and remote effects of a change in waste management practices or other source reduction policies,” they wrote in the study. “Although the short-term prognosis is that plastic impacts are increasing significantly, our analyses also suggest that reductions in exposure will result in reduced ingestion.”
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