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Humans Have Marked the Geological Era of The “Plastics”

A brand new study primarily based on sediment obtained off the coast of Santa Barbara, California found that plastics have been building dramatically in the sediment record since 1945.

Published in Science Advances Wednesday, the study looks at a single sediment core that dates again to 1834. However, plastics didn’t enter the setting till after World War II in 1945 as a result of that’s when its production ramped up. And that’s all clear within the sediment core, which the Scripps Institution of Oceanography Cal-Echoes analysis cruise extracted again in 2010. Interestingly enough, the rise in plastics correlates with worldwide plastic production and the population growth alongside the Southern California coast that feeds the watershed where the team collected this sample.

Plastics are taking on. And this “plastic footprint,” as study writer Jennifer Brandon, a biological oceanographer on the Scripps Institution of Oceanography put it, is so stark that the authors suggest it may function a geological proxy within the sedimentary file. Scientists have dubbed the present interval we’re residing within the Great Acceleration to mark our raging industrial activity and its impact on the planet. Sometimes, geologists depend on radioisotopes to wave the start and ends of eras, but the team behind this study thinks plastics will be the tag for when this new kind of geological era rose.

What’s more, the ocean sediment tells a clear story of the world’s rising reliance on plastic. Between 1945 and 2009, the rate of plastic deposition doubled every 15 years on average.

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