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J. Lavers 2015

Trillions of pieces of plastic are estimated to litter the world's oceans, but we don't really know the extent.

Two researchers travelled to Henderson Island, a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific, to try to get a handle on how much plastic refuse had washed ashore. They estimated nearly 38 million pieces of plastic debris are on the island.

  • The details: Roughly 99.8% of the debris found on Henderson was plastic. Between 21 and 672 pieces of plastic debris were found per square meter on the beach, and 53 to 4,497 plastic items per square meter were buried in the sand. The researchers speculated that the nearly 38 million pieces of plastic debris had washed ashore from ocean currents carrying refuse thrown overboard from commercial fishing fleets.
  • Amazing stat: The 17.6 tons of debris estimated to be present on Henderson Island account for only 1.98 seconds' worth of the annual global production of plastic, they wrote.

Go deeper

23 mins ago - Podcasts

Podcast: After the Biden inaugural

Joe Biden was sworn in today as America's 46th president in an inauguration unlike any other in modern history.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into the speech, the atmosphere and what it all tells us about the incoming administration, with Axios political reporters Hans Nichols and Alexi McCammond.

Biden embarks on a consequential presidency

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Donald Trump tried everything to delegitimize the rival who vanquished him. In reality, he's set Joe Biden on course to be a far more consequential U.S. president than he might otherwise have become.

The big picture: President Biden now confronts not just a pandemic, but massive political divisions and an assault on truth — and the aftermath of the assault on the Capitol two weeks ago that threatened democracy itself.

Updated 55 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Inauguration Day dashboard

U.S. Capitol and stage are lit at sunrise ahead of the inauguration of Joe Biden. Photo: Patrick Semansky - Pool/Getty Images

President Biden has delivered his inaugural address at the Capitol, calling for an end to the politics as total war but warning that "we have far to go" to heal the country.

What's next: Representatives from all branches of the military escort the 46th president to the White House.