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How Marine Ecology Reveals the Collapse of an Ecosystem

When synthetic plastics were developed in the early years of the 20th century, it was a true breakthrough that revolutionised the world of materials. Over the long term however, the more than 350 tonnes of plastics produced every day might turn out to be a curse for humanity and the planet itself. Considering these astounding masses, it is important to keep in mind that plastic never entirely breaks down – it just breaks up into ever-smaller pieces. Jennifer Lavers, an ecotoxicologist at the University of Tasmania, has set out to investigate how the 20 million items of plastic waste that enter the world’s oceans each day affect marine ecosystems, especially ocean seabird populations. The results of her work are nothing short of alarming. The extreme levels of plastic pollution she has discovered on the world’s remotest islands and the dramatic effects on aquatic life are ultimate warning signs that the current way humanity is handling its “plastics addiction” cannot be sustained any further without doing deep and lasting damage to the oceans. At Falling Walls, Jennifer explains the ruined natural paradises she has found on uninhabited islands and calls for a global wake-up to prevent the further destruction of the oceans.

Jennifer Lavers

University of Tasmania

Jennifer Lavers, a research scientist at the Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies at the University of Tasmania, studies the shocking effects of plastic pollution on ocean ecosystems, in particular seabird populations. Her 2017 reports on extraordinary pollution levels found on a remote and uninhabited island deep in the Pacific Ocean listed as UNESCO World Heritage, has served as a global wake-up call on the alarming state of our oceans. Based on her outstanding field research and equipped with haunting examples of wildlife destruction by human hand, Jennifer advocates for urgent action by governments, companies and individuals in order to avoid a complete and irreversible collapse of the world’s oceans.

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