How much trash is too much? This just might be the answer.
Most sad and disgusting thing ever. The Pacific Ocean is filling with a great Saragasso Sea-esque trash swirl. This plastic-laden morass covers an area twice that of Texas, though is some sources it is said to be larger than the continental USA (because there are two patches and if you can add…). This floating trash dump is growing each year.
Ever witty, we humans have dubbed it The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
Just the headlines to these articles are enough:
Find out why it exists at How Stuff Works.
Because it is semi-solid and floating on top of the water, where birds can land on it, some call it a vast trash island.
But the horror is even worse, because birds cannot distinguish between actual floating food and food-smeared floating plastic and so are starving to death by gorging on pieces of plastic found in the floating dump. They die completely stuffed full of trash.
The only smart thing about this econightmare is that scientists and the government are looking at ways to clean it up.
The so-called Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a stewy body of plastic and marine debris that floats an estimated 1,000 miles west of San Francisco, is a shape-shifting mass far too large, delicate and remote to ever be cleaned up, according to a researcher who recently returned from the area.
But that might not stop the federal government from trying.
Charles Moore, the marine researcher at the Algalita Marina Research Foundation in Long Beach who has been studying and publicizing the patch for the past 10 years, said the debris – which he estimates weighs 3 million tons and covers an area twice the size of Texas – is made up mostly of fine plastic chips and is impossible to skim out of the ocean.
“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.”
The trash collects in one area, known as the North Pacific Gyre, due to a clockwise trade wind that circulates along the Pacific Rim. It accumulates the same way bubbles gather at the center of hot tub, Moore said.
The Garbage Patch is not a solid island, as some people believe, Moore said. Instead, it resembles a soupy mass, interspersed with large pieces of junk such as derelict fishing nets and waterlogged tires – “an alphabet soup,” he called it.
The great human hot tub. Lovely image.
Notice he says it is too difficult to clean up. Ah, optimism. One thinks, logically, that anything which can be put into something can be taken out. Might take a great effort, but that is life. You make a mess, you clean up the mess.
Seems like the lead in to a summer thriller. Just when you thought it was safe to get back in the water. dumdum. Just when you return to the beach. dumdum dumdum. Aggghhhh! Attack of the plastic sharks!
Hey, dive right in. Surf’s up!
More on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch here.