See the yellow? That’s plastic refuse that has found its way into the Pacific and were pushed into the North Pacific Gyre, a place where trade winds essentially circle and trap any debris into the massive areas you see on the map. One of them is estimated to be twice the size of Texas.
Sadly, marine researcher Charles Moore at the Algalita Marina Research Foundation in Long Beach says thereâ€™s no practical fix for the problem. He has been studying the massive patch for the past 10 years, and said the debris is to the point where it would be nearly impossible to extract.
“Any attempt to remove that much plastic from the oceans – it boggles the mind,” Moore said from Hawaii, where his crew is docked. “There’s just too much, and the ocean is just too big.” [...]
Since his first encounter with the gyre in 1997, Moore created the Algalita Marine Research Foundation to help study the problem. Canadian filmmaker Ian Connacher joined Moore last year to film the garbage patch for his documentary, I Am Plastic.
“The most menacing part is those little bits of plastic start looking like food for certain animals, or the filter feeders don’t have any choice, they just pick them up,” noted Connacher.
Perhaps an even bigger problem is hiding beneath the surface of the islands of garbage. Greenpeace reports that about 70 per cent of the plastic that makes it to the ocean sinks to the bottom, where it then smothers marine life on the ocean floor. Dutch scientists have found 600,000 tons of discarded plastic on the bottom of the North Sea alone.
And by the way, this ties back into our reliance on fossil fuels since plastic is made from petroleum. Yet another reason why renewable sources of energy are needed now more than ever.
This entry was posted on Monday, December 31st, 2007 and is filed under Environment, The World. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.