We’ve seen the photos: the Pacific garbage patch, turtles choking on straws, oil spills visible from space. But it is the invisible forms of ocean pollution—microscopic plastic particles, sound, toxic forever chemicals, and insidious viruses and bacteria that hitchhike along the world’s shipping lanes—that most threaten marine life, with consequences for human health.
And the most pernicious form of plastic pollution isn’t found in the ocean at all. It is located in the corridors of power in global capitals, as the fossil fuel industry, threatened by the rise of renewable energies, seeks to reinvent itself with increased plastic production.
As the world’s nations convene over the next year and a half to hammer out a new treaty to end plastic pollution that is likely to be the most environmentally consequential since the 2015 Paris climate deal, industry lobbyists are working behind the scenes to ensure plastic production for years to come, even if it is greenwashed with climate-friendly terms like reuse, recycle, and clean up.