Gen Zs Deplasticising Oceans

Almost 400 million metric tons, or, the equivalent weight of the human population, of subsidised petroleum-based plastics are manufactured annually. Thirteen million metric tons of those plastics are entering the oceans and poisoning everything.

About 12 per cent of the world’s petroleum {12 million barrels daily (mbd)} is poured into plastics. By mid-century, unless corrective action is taken, that figure is predicted to grow to be almost 18 mbd.

The shale gas industry has been trying to build demand for fossil fuels from its fracked oil and gas wells by promoting the construction of a new petrochemical corridor in America’s Rust Belt and expanding the corridor on the Gulf Coast. Credit:

Meanwhile, petrochemicals are expected to account for more than one-third of global oil demand growth by 2030 and approximately half of demand growth by 2050, according to the world’s energy watchdog, the International Energy Agency (IEA). At the current pace of consumption, plastic could surpass coal’s emissions by 2030.

A key reason why plastic products have taken over the planet is the subsidies given to the fossil fuel industry, which keep them cheap and ubiquitous. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimated that $11 million a minute, or, $5.9 trillion annually is given in subsidies by governments to the biggest, wealthiest, fossil fuel polluters.

“[Fossil fuel subsidies] are the definition of insanity,” said John Kerry, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate.

No brainer, Mr Kerry, end ALL fossil fuel subsidies, yesterday!

Microplastics can alter human lung cells and slow down their metabolism. Credit:

It’s not just the disposability of plastics that are choking every living thing in the world. Tiny plastics, known as microplastics (<5mm), have been used for decades in the clothing, bedding and cosmetic industries. When clothes are washed or bodycare products washed off, microplastics detach and pass through the municipal water filtration systems and ultimately into the oceans or environment (in regional/rural centres they may also leach from domestic septic systems).

There are so many microplastics in the biosphere that scientists have detected them blowing onshore in sea spray and raining onto earth in Aquitaine (southwest France), London, the French Pyrenees mountains and along the US Southern Rockies. That means microplastics have infiltrated mountain streams and lakes, which feed towns and cities their daily drinking water. We know this because researchers at the Medical University of Vienna have reported on levels of infiltration into the human food chain. Microplastics have also made it to the depths of our oceans, such as the Mariana and Kermadec trenches, more than 10.5km (6.5mi) beneath the Pacific surface.

Humans are also inadvertently consuming microplastics through leaching from water bottles, plastic packaging and more. We are all likely to be eating microplastics for dinner. A team of experts lead by Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, detected that widespread microplastic dust in our homes is contaminating each meal by as much as 114 particles. Per year, a person could consume as many as 68,415 individual pieces of plastic. A 2019 study from University of Newcastle (Australia) reported that worldwide people are unintentionally breathing, drinking and eating the weight of a credit card worth of microplastics (5 grams) weekly.

For those of you that still eat seafood, please take note: in 2020, microplastics were discovered in every single sample of wild blue crabs, oysters, farmed tiger prawns, wild squids and wild sardines purchased at a market in Queensland, Australia.

Credit: Ocean Cleanup Foundation

There is a worldwide awareness that plastics are doing us in, especially in the oceans. The largest approximation of the enormity of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (floating collection of rubbish) could be 16 times bigger than estimated in 2018, which was a surface spread of around 1.6 million km2 – an area spanning twice that of Texas with a weight equalling about 50,000 automobiles. Social media has helped awaken people to this hideous disposable plastic mess. Many groups, including our friends as Sea Shepherd and Gen Zs (under 26s) are now helping to turn this around.

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Dutch Gen Z inventor Boyan Slat’s non-profit entity, The Ocean Cleanup, has begun to tackle those large plastic pieces by working with the ocean gyres (circulating currents) to corral the surface pollution. His goal is to withdraw 50 per cent of the Pacific Ocean plastic every five years. Slat intends to release a fleet of plastic-removing vessels in every other ocean, too, where there are also enormous floating plastic islands.

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Irish Gen Z scientist, Fion Ferreira, discovered a solution that can extract microplastics from water. By combining vegetable oil with iron oxide powder, he created a magnetic solution that attracts microplastics thereby decontaminating water. Ferreira is designing a magnetic device and extraction method for vessels to capture microplastics from the ocean. Bravissimo!

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The 2021 United Nations Climate Conference (COP26) in Glasgow was a waste of precious time. The world’s leaders have refused to drastically and immediately cut fossil fuel, wood pellet and palm oil combustion, as well as promptly ending all fossil fuel subsidies.

The worst, least qualified and most unscrupulous citizens, the world’s leaders, have sentenced the Gen Zs to hell on Earth.

We must change, and we must change now!

Calling all Gen Zs, Indigenous Peoples, activists, environmentalists, conservationists, scientists, teachers, professors, medicos, citizen scientists, artists, elders, grandparents, parents, aunties, uncles, vegans and nature lovers  a couple billion people  it’s time to join a continuous disobedient uprising to protect the oceans, native forests and old-growth, mangroves, peatlands, saltwater marshes, seagrass meadows, grasslands and all life therein. Because without nature’s climate solutions in situ, we “smart apes” have no chance of survival.

This will be the decade that determines the rest of human history.

Agitate. Disrupt. Defend.



Reese Halter

Reese Halter is a bees/trees/seas defender.
His latest book is GenZ Emergency.
Email: for your autographed copy.
In Australia, order from the Bob Brown Foundation by emailing:

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