In many ways,plastic is the perfect material:we can make it strong and rigid enough to build spaceships and replace bones,or thin and flexible enough to makes shopping bags,that weigh as much as a nickel but carry up to 8 kilograms.
And unlike other materials,plastic doesn't rust or rot,it can last for centuries,even when we only need it to last a few seconds.We make tons of plastic precisely because it's cheap,durable and yet expendable.But the features of plastic that make it so useful to us have also transformed life in the oceans,where as much as 10% of our discarded plastic-millions of tons per year-ends up.
Big pieces of plastic are definitely bad news for marine animals like whales,albatross,and sea turtles which risk getting tangled in the debris or ingesting large pieces of it.Yet despite the publicity about huge garbage patches in the sea.most of the ocean's plastic isn't big,our castaway shopping bags and soda bottles get weakened by sunlight.and torn apart in the wind and the waves into little bits of plastic confetti.
On the micro-scale,though,it's still super durable the microorganisms that decompose ripped-up bits of wood and seaweed down into simpler organic compounds can't easily digest plastic.So while the plastic confetti gets broken into smaller pieces,it doesn't go away it just spreads out over time.
从微观角度看，塑料依然无法被微生物分解 分解木头和海藻的微生物无法轻易消化塑料。所以虽然塑料碎渣碎成更小颗粒，但并未消失 时间过去，塑料只是扩散开来。
Which is why we've found"microplastics"pretty much everywhere in the oceans,from the Arctic to the Antarctic,and from the seafloor to the surface.Unlike the easy-to-observe impacts of large plastic trash.the effects of microplastics are as subtle and difficult to trace as the fragments themselves:the durable fragments can serve as new real estate,on which small ocean creatures can grow and multiply;or choke slightly larger ocean creatures that think the plastics are food;or attract and collect toxic chemicals,which become introduced into the food chain if the particles are eaten;and probably a million other problems we haven't noticed yet.
这就是为什么几乎全世界任何海洋中都发现了塑料微粒，从北极洲到南极洲 从海底到海面 和大块塑料垃圾不同，塑料微粒的影响不易观察，和微粒本身一样，其造成的影响微妙且很难追踪：耐性良好的碎片会成为生物新的栖息地 小型海洋生物在其上生长繁殖。稍稍大些的海洋生物会认为塑料是食物，如果吞下就造成阻塞。塑料也会吸附并积累有毒化学物质 如果微粒被动物吃下会进入食物链。也许还有更多问题，只是我们还未察觉到。
Because we've only recently started paying attention to all these microplastics in the oceans.But it's undeniable how much plastic trash we've introduced into marine ecosystems,and the wonderful durability of plastic guarantees it'll be an issue for years to come.it's possible we can decrease further impact by Switching to biodegradable plastics,dumping less plastic in the oceans,or cleaning up the patches of sea most strewn with plastic.
But until we do,the question is,will the oceans be plastic enough to deal with our favorite material?