Plastic pollution an unfolding catastrophe, says David Attenborough

Plastic pollution is an “unfolding catastrophe” that we “ignore at our peril”, David Attenborough has warned as it emerged a bag and sweet wrappers were found on a record-breaking ocean dive.

The naturalist and wildlife campaigner said plastic in the sea is a “global problem” that demands a response on a global scale.

It has been revealed that plastic waste was recently found during the deepest ocean dive on record, which saw explorer Victor Vescovo descend nearly 11km down into the Pacific Ocean.

The journey to extreme depths of the Mariana Trench encountered new species of sea creatures, as well as a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.

Writing in the i newspaper, Mr Attenborough said it was “high time” for the world’s leaders to take action on plastic pollution.

“I have seen for myself the effects of plastic pollution on some of our planet’s most precious species and natural places – an unfolding catastrophe that has been overlooked for too long,” he said.

“But we ignore it at our peril.”

(Justin Hofman/Greenpeace/PA)

Mr Attenborough’s comments come after a major report warned wildlife and habitats are declining at an “unprecedented” rate worldwide.

Up to a million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction, a greater number than ever before in human history, the UN-backed global assessment revealed.

The study said plastic pollution has increased 10-fold in the seas since 1980, harming turtles, seabirds and mammals.

However, the report also warned that a decline in wildlife will cause harm to humans too.

A report by the Tearfund released on Tuesday warned of the impact on human health caused by plastic pollution.

The research suggested one person dies every 30 seconds in developing countries from diseases caused by plastic pollution and rubbish.

“This report is one of the first to highlight the impacts of plastic pollution not just on wildlife but also on the world’s poorest people,” Mr Attenborough said.

“Humankind’s ability to produce this material on an industrial scale far outstrips our ability to manage it, and as a consequence plastic is choking our rivers and seas.”

- Press Association

More on this topic

6 greener straws and stirrers for your drinks, as plastic versions are set to be band

Climate change: sea level rise could displace millions of people within two generations

Greenpeace activists: ‘BP must clean up or clear out’

10 held after Greenpeace activists attempt anti-BP container protest in UK

More in this Section

Ralph Northam blackface photo probe 'inconclusive' despite governor admitting he was in picture

'Big news expected tonight': British MPs meet to discuss forcing Theresa May to step down

Why has Theresa May’s ‘bold’ Brexit offer been received so badly?

Prada announces it will no longer use fur


Here’s how new parents can get more sleep, according to a Hollywood nanny

Everything you need to know about Binyavanga Wainaina’s work, as the Kenyan author dies

6 greener straws and stirrers for your drinks, as plastic versions are set to be band

These are the signs and symptoms of sepsis to be aware of

More From The Irish Examiner