The plastic polymer was invented in 1907, but the use of plastics did not really take hold until around 1950s. Since that time, the production of plastics has grown exponentially. To date over 8 billion tons of plastic have been produced, yet only 9% of that has ever been recycled. A total of about 8 million tons of plastic are dumped into our oceans yearly. To help stem that tide, 10 states have banned the use of plastic bags. Yet Florida has literally banned the banning of plastic bags! The plastic in the oceans are affecting five different types of marine animals: sea turtles, seals and sea lions, seabirds, fish and cetaceans (whales and porpoises). Thankfully there is lots we can each do. For example, we just need to stop using plastic bags, plastic straws, plastic wrap, and Styrofoam, which we all can easily do.
Terry L. Root is Professor Emerita at Stanford University. She was a lead author of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change 4th Assessment Report that in 2007 was co-awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore. Also, she was a lead author for the 3rd Assessment Report (2001) and a Review Editor for the 5th Assessment Report (2014). In addition to other honors, Root was awarded the Spirit of Defenders Award for Science by Defenders of Wildlife in 2010, and Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016 for the conservation organization Point Blue. She served on the National Audubon Board of Directors from 2010 to 2019, currently serves on the board of Defenders of Wildlife, Birds Caribbean, and is on numerous science advisory boards, including the American Wind and Wildlife Institute.