Planet Plastic 地球快要變成“塑料星球”

Why we’re drowning in a sea of plastic

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氣候變化僅僅是地球遇到的挑戰之一,我們所居住的星球還面臨著堆積如山的垃圾和廢棄物,尤其是白色垃圾。一項研究說,自1950年至今,人類已生產出83億噸塑料制品,並尚未找到有效處理和回收塑料制品的方法。我們能做些什麼呢?

課文內容

Vocabulary: Environment 詞匯: 環境

Here’s a staggering statistic. Scientists have calculated the total amount of plastic ever made: 8.3 billion tonnes. Looked at another way, that’s as heavy as 25,000 Empire State Buildings or one billion elephants. And incredibly, almost all of it has been made in the last 65 years. 

So what’s the problem? Much plastic is in the form of packaging which is used just once and then thrown away. According to a major new study from the University of California, 9% of this is recyled, 12% is incinerated and 79% goes to landfill. And because most plastic doesn’t biodegrade, once it’s in the ground, it stays there. 

It’s a situation that has led the paper’s lead author, ecologist Dr Roland Geyer, to say that we are “rapidly heading towards ‘Planet Plastic’”. He believes that there’s already enough waste out there to cover the whole of Argentina.

The team behind this report also estimate that eight million tonnes of plastic waste are escaping into the sea every year. This has generated concern that plastic is entering the food chain, though fish and other sea life which ingest the smaller fragments.

Of course, the reason why there’s so much plastic around is that it’s an amazingly useful material. We can’t get enough of it. It’s durable and adaptable, and is used for everything from yoghurt pots to spaceships. But it’s precisely this quality which makes it a problem. The only way to destroy plastic is to heat or burn it – although this has the side effect of harmful emissions.

So what’s the alternative, other than using less plastic? Oceanographer Dr Erik van Sebille from Utrecht University says we’re facing a “tsunami” of plastic waste, and that the global waste industry needs to “get its act together”.

Professor Richard Thompson, a marine biologist from Plymouth University, says it’s poor design that’s at fault. He says that if products are currently designed “with recyclability in mind”, they could be recyled around 20 times over.

Dr Geyer agrees: “The holy grail of recycling is to keep material in use and in the loop for ever if you can. But it turns out in our study that actually 90% of that material that did get recycled – which I think we calculated was 600 million tonnes – only got recycled once.”

詞匯表

staggering 令人震驚的
packaging 包裝材料
incinerate 被焚毀的
landfill 垃圾填埋場
biodegrade 生物降解
ecologist 生態學家
food chain 食物鏈
ingest 咽下(食物)
fragment 碎片,碎塊
durable 耐用的
adaptable 適應性強的
emission 排放物
oceanographer 海洋學家
tsunami 海嘯
get your act together 合理安排,有條理地籌劃
marine biologist 海洋生物學家
at fault 有責任,有過錯
recyclability 可再利用性
loop 循環
turn out 結果是(尤指出乎意料的結果)

測驗與練習

1.
閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. Where does the greatest proportion of plastic waste go? 

2. How might plastic enter the food we eat?

3. What do Professor Thompson and Dr Geyer agree about?

4. Which word means ‘ability to be recycled’?

5. True or false: The fact that plastic is durable is good for the environment.

2.
請你在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處

1. Marine biology and _______ are related subjects.

ecologist       marines       oceanographer        oceanography

2. As _______, I study the relationships between all living things and their environment.

an ecologist       a chemist       an oceanographer       a psychologist             

3. You need to get _______ together. You can’t keep on handing in your homework late.

the act       my act       this act       your act

4. Because it doesn’t _______, plastic waste is very harmful to the environment.

emit       ingest       biodegrade       incinerate

5. Finding a new form of _______ energy is the holy grail for many environmentalists.

clean and renewable       fossil fuel       cheap       modern and impressive

答案

1.
閱讀課文並回答問題。

1. Where does the greatest proportion of plastic waste go? 
An estimated 79% of plastic waste ends up in landfill.

2. How might plastic enter the food we eat?
It’s thought that small fragments of plastic are ingested by fish and other sea life, and from there it enters the food chain.

3. What do Professor Thompson and Dr Geyer agree about?
They agree that products need to be recycled many times over, not just once.

4. Which word means ‘ability to be recycled’?
Recyclability.

5. True or false: The fact that plastic is durable is good for the environment.
False. Plastic being durable is bad for the environment, because it needs to be disposed of in other ways.

2.
請你在不參考課文的情況下完成下列練習。選擇一個意思合適的單詞填入句子的空格處

1. Marine biology and oceanography are related subjects.

2. As ecologist, I study the relationships between all living things and their environment.

3. You need to get your act together. You can’t keep on handing in your homework late.

4. Because it doesn’t biodegrade, plastic waste is very harmful to the environment.

5. Finding a new form of clean and renewable energy is the holy grail for many environmentalists.

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