Not So Lucky

By Meghan Rice

As I clean Huntington State Beach every month, I think about how on earth people can leave their garbage on the beach.  Personally, I feel grateful for the beautiful environment that I live in as a Southern Californian.  On one occasion I got to talking to a few of my fellow volunteers about worldwide pollution, and we discussed the situation in Lebanon, with its river of garbage, and the Olympics being held in polluted water in Brazil.  It reminded me that there are absolutely devastating situations in other parts of the world where pollution contaminates people’s lives every day.  That’s when I did some research into what exactly are the health concerns with excess pollution, because I wanted to know what we have that we take for granted.  Here are some of the striking facts I found:

1.    Over 100 million people around the world are in critical health from pollution, about as many as those suffering from HIV and malaria.1

2.    By 1975, ocean vessels such as cargo ships and cruise liners had dumped over 14 billion pounds of garbage into the ocean.1  Imagine how much they’ve dumped as of today!

3.    The number of people who get lung cancer from air pollutants increases by 120% when they live in an area with high pollution.1

4.    About 40% of American lakes are so polluted, they are a danger to people and marine life and people cannot fish in them.1

5.    There are 7.1 billion people in the world right now.  Over 1 billion of them do not have access to clean drinking water.2

6.    Every year, 30% of the world’s waste comes out of America, and one trillion gallons of industrial waste and sewage is dumped into the ocean.2

7.    In India, about 80% of urban waste is dumped into one river.  The river is becoming septic, meaning infected with bacteria, due to all the bodies being dumped in it.2  

8.    Around 1000 children die every year from the polluted water in India.2

9.    Only 13% of bottles are recycled in America every year.2

10.It is projected that by 2030, the number of cars in the world will have doubled.  That is twice the amount of air pollution caused by cars.2

Please take a moment at your next beach excursion, which I hope will be soon, to enjoy the cleanliness that we have in comparison to other countries.  Try to be a part of the effort that keeps our beautiful beaches in such high esteem.  Be aware that not everyone is so lucky, and we need to keep our environment clean, for us.