An editorial is calling the dumping of plastic waste into the ocean a new “silent spring”.

“Silent spring” was a book written in the 1960s outlining the harmful effects of the overuse of pesticides on the environment. It was instrumental in raising public awareness of the potential dangers of pesticides.

The authors of the paper believe that plastic pollution in the ocean is not perceived as a major pollutant, but that it should be. The author believes that 1.8 million tons of plastic is discharged into the oceans every 2.2 days. Additionally the author explains that today 90 per cent of seabirds have plastic in their digestive system, while in the 1970s and 80s only ten per cent of seabirds were affected.

In a related paper researchers estimate that 99 per cent of seabirds will have ingested plastic by 2050.

Original research paper published in PNAS on August 31, 2015.

Names and affiliations of selected author

Boris Worm, Biology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia