AuthorJamie Benidickson
Passionate advocates contend vigorously with resolute skeptics over
many aspects of the environmental and sustainability agenda at the local,
national, and global levels. And why would they not, given the signif‌i-
cance of the issues facing the planet’s 7.6 billion current human inhabit-
ants and the billion or so more who are expected by 2050?
Research into four environmental challenges facing the global
population biodiversity, water, the impacts of pollution on human
health, and climate change suggest that prospects are “more alarm-
ing” than previously anticipated.1 Marine biodiversity loss from human
activity is impairing the ability of oceans to sustain life. Without efforts
to restore marine ecosystems, researchers warn that worldwide f‌isheries
could collapse by mid century.2 Plastic waste has emerged as a major
environmental stressor for marine ecosystems. If current trends con-
tinue, the global weight of plastics in the ocean is projected to exceed the
weight of marine life by 2050.3 The signif‌icance of pollution for human
well- being is underscored by the Lancet Commission on pollution and
1 OECD, Environmental Outlo ok to 2050: The Consequences of Inaction (Pa ris: O ECD,
2 Boris Worm et al, “Impa cts of Biodiversity Loss on Oce an Ecosystem Serv ices”
(2006) 314 Science 787 at 790.
3 World Economic Forum, Ellen MacA rthur Foundation, & McKins ey & Co, The
New Plastics Economy: Re thinking the Future of Plastics (2016) at 17, online: www.

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