Or, if you prefer your news with a sharper edge and a foul tongue, then check out the sharp reporting of VBS-TV as they sail into the Garbage Patch and pull no punches regarding what they find.
Why all the news on human trash turned to ocean flotsam?
Something important happens to people when they encounter the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the central Pacific Ocean. They get very upset. Jean-Michel Cousteau found it "horrifying," and First Lady Laura Bush saw how our waste can "devastate marine life." There's something awful about plowing through mountains of mostly plastic trash on beaches, or sailing through seas choked with plastic garbage in the middle of the ocean.
On land and at sea, dead animals testify to the harm caused by man-made trash in the ocean. Plastics seem to be the worst of the mess, animals can eat it, or get tangled in it, and many of them die. Yecch, what a way to go, starving because your stomach is stuffed full of indigestible bits of garbage.
Everyone who sees this mess seems to agree that something must be done.
And that's where the agreement ends. Talking about solutions just gets arguments started.
Some advocate getting rid of plastic bags, like Rebecca Hosking, a Washington Post Innovator (the world's ground-breakers and contrarians, problem solvers and restless minds). She cried tears that changed her life when she landed on Midway Island in the Pacific. "All you could smell was death," she recalled, thanks to plastic debris that clogged the stomachs and killed the dead albatrosses rotting on the Midway beach.
When she got back home to the village of Modbury in England, she found plastic bags littering the nearby sea. She researched substitute bags, enlisted the local butcher to test biodegradable cornstarch bags, and won a unanimous vote of support from local merchants. Now, most shoppers in Modbury carry reusable cloth bags, a key goal of the campaign, and the movement is spreading around the world. "I'm not an eco-warrior" she says, "we just did a little thing that worked."
Others, such as the American Chemistry Council (a chemical industry association), think the solution is recycling and litter control. They quoted Jean-Michel Cousteau in an Earth Day press release, saying people (not products) pollute. They believe the solution is in recycling, and they have a new campaign to promote recycling of plastics, because they're "too valuable to waste."
Doubt about the effectiveness of recycling are raised on the blog rise above plastics, but The Plastics blog reports on the other side of the story, and how corn-based bioplastics just confuse consumers.
How can we cut through the confusion? Let's listen to some experts.
The answer may be in green chemistry, the effort to design products and production methods so that we prevent problems like plastic waste accumulation in the ocean. An authoritative report from the University of California notes the Garbage Patch as the type of problem that could actually be prevented using smart production.
Contamination of the environment by plastic materials reflects a product management system gone awry. Plastic products are manufactured out of non-renewable materials, contain substances that are toxic to biological and ecological systems, and are designed and packaged for disposal rather than re-use. The resulting pollution presents unique environmental hazards; ocean plastics provide one example.A product management system gone awry? Those strong words are endorsed by 127 faculty members from seven UC campuses, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Maybe we should listen carefully to what they're saying.
The North Pacific central gyre is a region of the Pacific Ocean between California and Hawaii in which ocean currents and wind patterns gather plastic and other debris into a central area. Plastic debris now covers an area of the gyre about twice the size of Texas. Researchers estimate that the mass of plastic particles is about six times greater than that of plankton, and that this ratio will grow ten-fold over the next ten years.6 Nearly all of this material comes from urban areas. Plastic debris has been found in the stomachs of 43 to 86 percent of seabirds and marine animals studied.
Due to their small size, plastic particles are not recoverable from the ocean; they are likely to remain in the marine ecosystem for hundreds of years. Ninety percent of the mass of floating debris in the world’s oceans — and 99% of the material on the world’s beaches — consists of plastic products and the pellets used to manufacture them.
Or, we could keep on making the mess and pay federal tax dollars to clean it up.
What do you think we should do about the garbage in the ocean? Please answer the blogfish poll in the upper right sidebar. I want your opinion on solving the ocean plastic trash problem.
The most important solution for the ocean plastic trash problem is:
-better plastic recycling
-ban the worst products
-clean up the mess
-what trash problem? Tweet