Forget climate change and nuclear war.
What may ultimately wipe out the humans as well as much of the rest of the animal kingdom may be much closer to hand.
What is this menace, you ask?
In a word, plastics, a subject we’ve been following for the last six years.
Yep, those petroleum byproducts so beloved for their role in making our lives so much easier have a dark side.
The latest research shows plastics cause cancer, reduce male sperm counts, alter the development of male genitalia, cause prostate problems, trigger earlier menopause, lay the groundwork for developing diabetes and high blood pressure, cause some forms of hyperactivity, trigger the development of moobs [enlarged male breasts] at the onset of puberty, and trigger low birthweights among girls, and, later, childhood obesity.
And we suspect those problems are just the tip of the iceberg.
One key to the problems associated with plastics is that when consumed into the body, they can mimic the chemicals secreted by the endocrine system [think estrogen and testosterone for starter], which is turn play key roles in regulating everything from our sexual development to our psychological states. Plastics, in short, function as what biologists call endocrine disruptors.
Yep, and its not just humans who are impacted by our ever-increasing reliance of plastics in everything from baby bottles and toys to microwave food containers, clothing, cosmetics, and so much more. Indeed, our consumption of plastics doubles every eleven years, and many of the most commonly used forms can’t be recycled, at least economically — leaving the planet awash in plastic refuse.
If it were just Homo sapiens paying the price for our addiction, one might tkae the neoliberal argument and say, hey, we deserve what we get.
But what about the myriad other species inhabited this small sphere were call Earth?
By now everyone should know that our habit of treating the world’s oceans as giant toilets has resulted in massive agglomerations [gyres] of plastic floating on the waves. But those are just the smallest percentage of plastics in the Seven Seas.
And what are those plastics doing once immersed in the world’s oceans? Read the rest after the jump [and do read on for some stunning findings]: Continue reading