Plastic pollution is an “unfolding catastrophe” that we “ignore at our peril”, David Attenborough has warned as it emerged a bag and sweet wrappers were found on a record-breaking ocean dive.
The naturalist and wildlife campaigner said plastic in the sea is a “global problem” that demands a response on a global scale.
It has been revealed that plastic waste was recently found during the deepest ocean dive on record, which saw explorer Victor Vescovo descend nearly 11km down into the Pacific Ocean.
Thrilled to announce the success of our Fourth Dive to the DEEPEST point on the planet. https://t.co/f9urYVYbap
— The Five Deeps Expedition (@FiveDeeps) May 13, 2019
The journey to extreme depths of the Mariana Trench encountered new species of sea creatures, as well as a plastic bag and sweet wrappers.
Writing in the i newspaper, Mr Attenborough said it was “high time” for the world’s leaders to take action on plastic pollution.
“I have seen for myself the effects of plastic pollution on some of our planet’s most precious species and natural places – an unfolding catastrophe that has been overlooked for too long,” he said.
“But we ignore it at our peril.”
Mr Attenborough’s comments come after a major report warned wildlife and habitats are declining at an “unprecedented” rate worldwide.
Up to a million species of plants and animals are at risk of extinction, a greater number than ever before in human history, the UN-backed global assessment revealed.
The study said plastic pollution has increased 10-fold in the seas since 1980, harming turtles, seabirds and mammals.
However, the report also warned that a decline in wildlife will cause harm to humans too.
A report by the Tearfund released on Tuesday warned of the impact on human health caused by plastic pollution.
The research suggested one person dies every 30 seconds in developing countries from diseases caused by plastic pollution and rubbish.
“This report is one of the first to highlight the impacts of plastic pollution not just on wildlife but also on the world’s poorest people,” Mr Attenborough said.
“Humankind’s ability to produce this material on an industrial scale far outstrips our ability to manage it, and as a consequence plastic is choking our rivers and seas.”