To avoid system errors, if Chrome is your preferred browser, please update to the latest version of Chrome (81 or higher) or use an alternative browser.
Click here to login if you're an NAE Member
Recover Your Account Information
Download File (mp3)
Please upgrade to a newer browser.
Lede: Add another worry to the harmful effects of plastic litter – climate change.
Randy Atkins: We already knew runaway plastic pollution is causing problems ranging from unsightly litter to the killing of marine life. But Sarah-Jeanne Royer, an oceanographer at the University of Hawaii, says her research shows the problem extends into the air.
Sarah-Jeanne Royer: Even the plastic that we use every day, our phones, computers, anything that is exposed to sunlight, will be producing greenhouse gases.
Randy Atkins: Royer says the type that most readily degrades into climate-warming gases is the lightweight plastic commonly used in single-use throwaways…that too often find their way into the environment. How much greenhouse gas is being released from plastic isn’t yet known.
Sarah-Jeanne Royer: But, given the rate at which plastic is being produced, eventually it might contribute significantly to climate change.
Randy Atkins: So Royer says we need to consider re-engineering waste management, clean up, even the plastic materials themselves…and soon. With the National Academy of Engineering, Randy Atkins, WTOP News.