Hari Sreenivasan: Today is Earth Day, an event that began in 1970 and is often considered the beginning of the modern environmental movement. This year the issue at the top of the agenda is plastic. From grocery bags to plastic straws to tiny micro-beads in everything from soap to make-up, the earth is swamped in plastic, and will remain so for generations to come. So what can be done? Joining me now is Jenna Jambeck, associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia, who is marking this Earth Day at a conference and joins us from Tel Aviv. Thanks for being with us. So let's kind of put this in the perspective. What is the scale of our plastic problem or situation?
Jenna Jambeck: In 2015, we were able to estimate the input of plastic from our mismanaged waste around the world, and into the ocean, and that is equal to about eight million metric tons of plastic entering the oceans every year. So if you think about it, that's equal to about a dump truck of plastic every minute going into the ocean. It's very significant.
Hari Sreenivasan: Is there anything that we know about plastic that gives us any kind of hope, how long does it take for plastic to dissolve or degrade, as it sits in our oceans?
Jenna Jambeck: It really doesn't ever biodegrade that we're aware of. And what it does instead is fragment over time into smaller and smaller pieces. So a large plastic item then ends up as many small microplastic items.
Hari Sreenivasan: And these microplastics i'm assuming they end up inside aquatic lifebecause they think it's food?
Jenna Jambeck: Certainly some of this is very much like food that animals in the marine ecosystem eat. And then we know that even some of the smallest items like the microbeads can be consumed by some of the smallest animals in our food web like zooplankton.
Hari Sreenivasan: when you think about a dump truck of plastic every minute, what is the impact that you and I can have or any human being can have on that kind of quantity? What are steps that we can actually take that reduces that?
Jenna Jambeck: Reusable water bottle, reusable coffee mug, don't use a straw, a reusable bag, I know we've heard them before, but our research really shows, taken collectively, or you just making this choice over a period of time, those choices really have an impact.
Hari Sreenivasan: Is there an agreement around the planet? I mean, you see local communities deciding to ban plastic shopping bags or charge higher for them. Has the world started to figure that out, especially in developing countries?
Jenna Jambeck: Yeah, I think we're all at different stages around the world, and many of these solutions are very locally based, but at the same time yes, I think we can all around the world agree that we don't want plastic in our environment, in our ocean. The U.N. has a campaign and folks around the world can sort of state their commitments that they're having to help with this issue. And so they might be different, but everyone can commit to doing something.
Hari Sreenivasan: Are there any technologies on the horizon that might be good substitutes for plastic that might be less harmful to the planet in the long term?
Jenna Jambeck: We are looking at polymers at the University of Georgia new materials institute that will biodegrade, actually biodegrade, but also serve some of the needs of plastic. So you can think of something more like a paper. Of course these things still need to be managed within our waste stream, but I do think that thinking about new materials and product design is a very important step that's way upstream of thinking about solving this problem.
Hari Sreenivasan: all right, Jenna Jambeck, associate professor of environmental engineering at the University of Georgia joining us on earth day, thank you so much.
Jenna Jambeck: Happy Earth Day.
1.make up 组成
North Africans make up the largest and poorest immigrant group in the country.
2.be with 与…在一起
She likes to be with other people.
3.equal to 等于
In many respects Asian women see themselves as equal to their men.
4.be aware of 意识到
As with many technological revolutions, you are unlikely to be aware of it.
5.end up 最终
Cynthia is not ashamed of what she does, even if she ends up doing something wrong.
哈里·斯雷尼瓦桑：今天是世界地球日，它始于1970年，通常被认为是现代环境运动的开端。今年，最重要的议程是塑料问题 。从食品袋到塑料吸管，再到从肥皂到化妆品的各种微珠，地球已被塑料淹没，而且这种情况还会继续下去 。那么我们能做些什么？今天，格鲁吉亚大学环境工程系副教授詹纳·贾姆贝克做客节目，他正在特拉维夫参加世界地球日会议，并从那里与我们连线 。感谢您的参与 。那么让我们来看看这个 。我们的塑料问题规模如何，情况怎样？
詹纳·贾姆贝克：2015年，我们对来自世界各地管理不善投入海洋的废弃物进行了估计，这一概念相当于每年约有800万公吨塑料进入海洋。所以如果你仔细想想，这就相当于每分钟都有一自卸车的塑料投入海洋 。数量可观 。
詹纳·贾姆贝克：我们知道，它真的不会降解。取而代之，它所做的就是，随着时间的推移，分解成越来越小的碎片 。因此，一个大塑料块，最终会分解成许多小的微型塑料块 。
詹纳·贾姆贝克：是的，我认为全球处于不同阶段，其中许多解决方案都是非常本地化的，但同时也是，我认为世界各地都会认同我们不希望塑料出现在我们的环境中，出现在我们的海洋里。联合国开展了一项运动，全世界的人们都可以表达他们在助力解决这一问题上的承诺 。所以他们可能会有所不同，但每个人都可以承诺做点什么 。
詹纳·贾姆贝克：我们正在格鲁吉亚大学新材料研究所研究聚合物，它会生物降解，真正地生物降解，但也可以满足一些塑料方面的需求。所以你可以想像一种更像纸张的材料 。当然，这些东西仍然需要在我们的废物流中进行管理，但我的确认为，思考新材料和思考产品设计是解决这个问题思路上的一个非常重要的步骤 。