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Biology LibreTexts Data Dive- Plastic in World Oceans

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    Our World in Data (OWID) is a scientific online publication that focuses on using research and data to help tackle global concerns such as poverty, disease, hunger, climate change, war, and inequitable treatment of our world’s most vulnerable and unstable communities. Their website is particularly known for publishing a variety of graphs, some even interactive, to present the research that helps explain causes and consequences of global concerns to the public. One example graph, seen below, illustrates the pathway by which plastic pollution enters the world’s oceans:

    Bar graph showing the pathway of plastic (in millions of tonnes per year) into the ocean.
    Figure \(\PageIndex{a}\): Plastic pathway into the ocean by million tonnes per year. Graph by Our World in Data (CC-BY-SA).


    1. Reflect on how this bar graph is different than a standard bar graph. What do you like or not like about it?
    2. What is this graph is illustrating about plastic waste?
    3. Note that the global plastic waste is higher than the global plastic production. What does that tell you about the amount of plastic not yet classified as “waste”?
    4. Provide a brief reflection for how these results make you feel and what they make you think about?
    5. How can the results of this graph be used to inform future policies about plastic waste?


    Raw Data From Above Graph(s)

    Table \(\PageIndex{a}\): Raw data for plastic pathway into the ocean by million tonnes per year. Graph by Our World in Data (CC-BY-SA).

    Waste Category Tonnes Per Year
    Global primary waste production 270 million
    Global plastic waste 275 million
    Coastal plastic waste 99.5 million
    Mismanaged coastal plastic waste 31.9 million
    Plastic inputs to the oceans 8 million
    Plastic in surface waters 10,000s to 100,000s



    Rachel Schleiger (CC-BY-NC)

    This page titled Data Dive- Plastic in World Oceans is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Melissa Ha and Rachel Schleiger (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .

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