Terry Root

PROVIDED Terry Root is a Stanford University professor emeritus and co-awardee of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007.

NORTH PORT — Terry Root, a co-awardee of the Nobel Peace Prize with Vice President Al Gore, said she thinks humans have a moral obligation to not cause suffering of other species.

Root is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment and a professor emeritus for the university.

The North Port Friends of Wildlife brings Root to the city Wednesday evening to discuss two things that don’t go great together: plastics and wildlife.

The discussion is from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 20 at the Shannon Staub Public Library in North Port, 4675 Career Lane.

The event is free and open to the public.

Root’s official Stanford University biography notes her work “on how wild animals and plants are changing with climate change, with a current focus on the possible mass extinction of species with warming. She actively works at making scientific information accessible to decision makers and the public.”

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Gore in 2007. She was the lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change.

She retired to Sarasota but remains active with Stanford and environmental research.

“Everything we throw in the landfill needs to be thought about,” Root said in a recent interview.

It is especially true in in Florida where, Root said, landfill garbage sometimes still finds its way into the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s not just the health of animals of the sea. It comes back to affect humans. A study about the sea salt consumed by humans, according to a news release about Root’s talk from the North Port Friends of Wildlife, found most of it contained microplastics — which in turn has absorbed toxins.

It’s better to eat pink Himalayan salt instead, it said.

The problem is being witnessed more and more, worldwide, when it comes to the damage done by plastics in the sea.

Recently, a large whale died and washed up on the shores of Australia. A necropsy discovered about 68 pounds of plastic bags in the marine mammal’s stomach.

Along with whales, sea turtles, seals, sea lions, seabirds and fish are being greatly affected.

Sea turtles think plastic bags are jelly fish — one of their primary foods — and are dying in droves by attempting to consume the disposed items.

The use of plastic bags have been, in recent history, one of the most harmful habits. Since 1907, man has created about 8 billion tons of plastic. Currently, about 1 million plastic bags are used each minute around the world, the news release stated.

It notes people can easily change habits. Instead of using plastic wrap, use dish covers, which can be washed and reused numerous times. And people can also cut open anything that is plastic that forms a circle, to avoid slipping over on an animal’s head.

“Wildlife is being traumatically affected by plastics we’re using, anywhere from plastic straws, to plastic bags, to plastic credit cards,” Root said.

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