The Unfinished Miracle: How Plastics Came to be Lost at Sea

Plastic trash is an increasingly significant source of pollution in the world’s oceans. In some remote ocean regions, it is aggregating by the ton. This thesis investigates plastic trash as an emerging marine contaminant, with a specific focus on: the history of plastic trash in the ocean; areas of aggregation; potential sources; remediation efforts; behavior of the material in terms of degradation in the marine environment; impacts to sea life and marine ecosystems; and scientific research, both ongoing and planned, that will attempt to determine further potential impacts to marine ecosystems and human health. The second part of this inquiry provides a brief explanation of what plastics are, the history of plastic polymer development and the significance of the material’s incredible contributions to society. It explores briefly the growing social backlash against plastic as a result of the publicized impacts of plastic ocean trash, and concludes with an argument, which states that the problem of plastic marine pollution is not due to the nature of the material itself, but rather lies in the ways we have chosen to use it.


Amanda R. Martinez

About Amanda Martinez

Amanda R. Martinez is the creator of brand at Prometheus, a Silicon Valley startup that pulls CO2 from the air to make zero net carbon fuels and cool carbon negative stuff. Prometheus launched out of Y Combinator in 2019, raised a seed round of $12.5 million led by BMW iVentures in 2020, and will launch retail carbon-neutral gasoline in 2021. Amanda is also a science writer and playwright. Her reporting has been published by The New, The Atlantic, and Scientific American, among others. Her plays have been produced or developed by Yale University, The Samuel French Short Play Festival, The Goodman Theatre, The Chicago Dramatists, The Skeleton Rep, and Primary Stages Einhorn School of Performing Arts in NYC. Find her on Instagram @amandarosemartinez or at Thesis: The Unfinished Miracle: How Plastics Came to be Lost at Sea


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