Way to Go Humanity: 99% of All Birds Will Have Plastic in Them by 2050

Well, this is distressing news. 


According to a new study conducted by a team of Australian scientists, nine out of ten seabirds have eaten plastic in the past which has remained in their gut. The study concluded that far more seabirds are affected by ocean pollution than the previous report of 29 percent.

"It’s pretty astronomical," said Denise Hardesty, study co-author and senior research scientist at the CSIRO. "The problem is that, not surprisingly, the birds are mistaking plastic for food. They think they’re getting a proper meal but they’re really getting a plastic meal."

She told The Guardian that upon inspection, an array of plastic items were found to be inside unsuspecting birds, including an entire glow stick and even a cigarette lighter.

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Ingesting plastic trash is deadly for seabirds, like this unfortunate albatross. (image: USFWS)

When the senior researcher and her team combined computer simulations of garbage and the birds, as well as their eating habits, they were able to see where the worst problems are. As it turns out, the biggest issue is not where there was the most garbage, but where there were the most amount of different species, particularly in Australia and New Zealand. Some areas in North America and Europe are better off than others.

Unless drastic measures are taken to remove plastic from our oceans, this problem will only get worse. 

“In the next 11 years we will make as much plastic as has been made since industrial plastic production began in the 1950s,” Hardesty said. The scientist also predicts that by 2050, pretty much all the birds on the planet will have plastic inside them.

According to Kiho Kim, an American University environmental scientist who did not participate in the study, the prediction “seems astonishingly high but probably not unrealistic.” 

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