This post first appeared at Fellowship of the Minds
Touting themselves as environmentalists, Obama and the Democrats had eight years to do it, but they didn’t — leaving the problem to grow into truly monstrous proportions.
But the GOP-majority Congress is doing something about it, and President Trump, reviled and trashed by environmentalists, is championing it.
What is it?
It’s the Save Our Seas Act, an important bill to rally the world to reduce marine debris, especially the over 8 million tons of plastic garbage dumped into our oceans. As Jacquie Kubin of Communities Digital News puts it:
The problem of plastic in our oceans has been left to fester to unmanageable effect. Saying that over eight millions tons of garbage, plastic, is dumped into our oceans, the President says Save our Seas is an effort to clean the plastic out. No other political leader, not in the U.S. or any other country, is willing to stand up for the oceans.
Kubin describes the problem:
- Oceans cover more than 70% of our planet. It is what gives us life and Earth’s moniker “The Blue Planet”.
- But human beings are choking the oceans with our plastic garbage, resulting in gigantic floating patches of marine debris in the Pacific Ocean — the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
- About 80% of the debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch comes from land-based activities in North America and Asia. Other sources of this trash are boaters, offshore oil rigs, and large cargo ships that dump or loose debris directly into the water.
8 million metric tons of plastic find their ways into the oceans from just 10 rivers, 8 of them in Asia, according to a Scientific American article.
- More than 2 million tons of single-use (use once and throw away) plastic soft drinks bottles are sold each year, only 6.6% of which are made from recycled materials. Those single-use plastic bottles are the most common type of plastic packaging found washed up on shorelines globally.
- 79,000 tons of marine trash are fishing nets. Those nets and plastic caps and rings entrap marine life, like this humpback whale.
- All those millions of tons of plastics swirling around in the oceans will take centuries to break down.
- As the plastics break down, smaller particulates are ingested by sea and bird life, which in turn are ingested by humans. Scientists have collected up to 1.9 million bits of microplastic in one square mile of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Most of this debris comes from plastic bags, bottle caps, plastic water bottles, and Styrofoam cups.
- According to the National Geographic, nearly every seabird on Earth is eating plastic or eating fish that have eaten plastic. A new studyfound that “So much plastic trash is flowing into the oceans that 90 percent of seabirds eat it now and virtually everyone will be consuming it by 2050.” Plastic found inside birds includes bags, bottle caps, synthetic fibers from clothing, and tiny rice-sized bits. The study’s lead author, Chris Wilcox, a research scientist with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, said that the number of species and number of individuals within species that you find plastic in is rapidly increasing by a couple percent every year.
The plastic garbage in oceans is an international problem, and cannot be solved by any one country.
S. 3508 – Save Our Seas Act of 2018 was introduced on Sept. 26, 2018 by a Republican, Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, and co-sponsored by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and two Democrat senators Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) and Bill Nelson (FL). The bill:
- Amends the Marine Debris Act to require the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to work with: (1) other agencies to address both land- and sea-based sources of marine debris, and (2) the Department of State and other agencies to promote international action to reduce the incidence of marine debris.
- Allows NOAA to make sums available for assisting in the cleanup and response required by severe marine debris events.
- Urges the President to:
- support funding for research and development of bio-based and other alternatives or environmentally feasible improvements to materials that reduce municipal solid waste;
- work with foreign countries [China] that contribute the most to the global marine debris problem in order to find a solution to the problem;
- study issues related to marine debris, including the economic impacts of marine debris; and
- encourage the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative to consider the impact of marine debris in relevant future trade agreements.
- Reauthorizes for FY2018-FY2022: (1) the Marine Debris Program, (2) an information clearinghouse on marine debris, and (3) enforcement of laws about discarded marine debris from ships.
The Save Our Seas Act of 2018 was passed by the Senate on Sept. 26, 2018, and by the House of Representatives on September 27, 2018.
On October 11, 2018, President Donald John Trump signed the Save Our Seas Act into law.