The global threat of plastic pollution and other polluting substances is a ‘planetary emergency’ equivalent to climate change.
We have crossed the limit
The study, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology , argues that human activity has exceeded the planetary limit for plastics and other pollutants, defined as “new entities” that have the potential to disrupt Earth systems. There are about 350,000 of these “new entities” in the global market, according to the researchers, including plastics, pesticides, industrial chemicals, chemicals in consumer products, pharmaceuticals and antibiotics. And many of them reach the environment.
“ There has been a 50-fold increase in chemical production since 1950 . This is projected to triple again by 2050,” Patricia Villarubia-Gómez, co-author of the study from the Stockholm Resilience Center (SRC) at Stockholm University, said in a press release. “The rate at which societies are producing and releasing new chemicals and other novel entities into the environment is not consistent with staying within a safe operating space for humanity.”
To reach this conclusion, the researchers compiled data on the rate of chemical production, along with the rate at which fossil fuels , which are used to create chemicals in addition to being used as fuel, are being extracted.
Experts do not doubt that strict regulations must be implemented that represent real barriers around the production of plastic and chemical products, similar to those that already exist for carbon emissions.
“We need to work to implement a fixed limit on the production and release of chemical substances,” they conclude.
Referencia: Outside the Safe Operating Space of the Planetary Boundary for Novel Entities
Bethanie M. Carney Almroth,
Christopher D. Collins,
Cynthia A. de Wit*,
Miriam L. Diamond,
Morten W. Ryberg,
Peter Søgaard Jørgensen,
Zhanyun Wang, and
Michael Zwicky Hauschild
Environ. Sci. Technol. 2022,
Publication Date:January 18, 2022