Plastic Is Forever In The North Pacific Gyre

Going green, Wildlife — By on March 8, 2009 at 6:51 am

225630122 5a8b040a89 m Plastic Is Forever In The North Pacific GyreBy now most of us have heard about the horrendous mountain of plastic swirling around in the North Pacific Gyre (aka the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” or “The Horse Latitudes.” ) It’s an area in the Pacific Ocean that earlier generations of mariners avoided with good reason.  Topical weather, slow, swirling equatorial currents, and lack of wind made it a grave yard  for men and ships alike in the great age of sail.  These are the same characteristics that have turned it into a continent-sized floating landfill  today; a fact that has some frightening implications.

A plastic bottle thrown into a storm sewer in San Francisco will make its way to the North Pacific Gyre in about two weeks, and stay there for eternity.  Everything from Barbie doll parts to plastic pop tops and floating wisps of Saran Wrap swirl around in this ever widening vortex of human generated trash.  Plastic accounts for close to 90% of the material in the garbage patch. This is bad news, because plastic is forever.  It does not bio degrade like wood, paper, or even rock.

Plastic photo-degrades, which means it becomes brittle and begins to crack and get broken down  into smaller pieces, releasing dangerous toxins like PCB’s and DDT to be absorbed by the water and ingested by living creatures.  Eventually, millions of tiny poisonous plastic nodules wash up on beaches, sink to the bottom of the sea, or just float around on the surface of the water to be mistaken for food bybirds and fish.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that poisons ingested at the bottom of the food chain will eventually make their way to the top.

184125455 11a986d1db m Plastic Is Forever In The North Pacific GyreBut there is hope. In 1997 after his own personal encounter with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Captain Charles Moore decided to dedicate 100 % of the time and resources of his Algalita Marine Research  Foundation to understanding and remediating the plastic load of the world’s oceans.  Since then, Moore has done a heroic job of raising worldwide public awareness, and has been the only one to conduct significant research on conditions in the gyre. Since the place is outside the territorial waters of any country, no nation has shown any interest in funding research or clean-up efforts.  In 2007-08  the  Algalita Foundation collected surface samples of plankton in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch,and is currently analyzing them to get some actual information on just what is there .

The Algalita people are going back this summer to conduct more research. Seems like the most constructive thing any of us can do is to support this effort. Why not become a member or make a donation? Let’s do something about all this plastic garbage in the ocean  other than talk about it.

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  1. Sharon Quinlivan says:

    Does anybody really think that mankind is going to finallly agree to all get together and save the earth? Last time I watched the news the different political parties in the country I live in(the USA)couldn’t even stand to be in the same room together for very long! Now, I don’t know my Bible near as well as I should, but I did read this in it only today. Rev 11:18 sure bothers me worse then the plastic swirl. It says God will, “bring to ruin those runing the earth”. Seems like something bigger then plastic swirls are brewing up!
    Thanks for your time,

  2. Roberta says:

    Sorry you are feeling so pessimistic about the survival of the earth, Sharon, all I can say is that the bible also says that God gave man stewardship of the earth and its creatures and we as a species have a responsibility to fulfill in that regard. Armageddon may or may not lie in the future. I prefer to stay in the now and to do what I can one plastic bag at a time.

  3. Sammie says:

    Have you dropped your marble bag and let all your marble spill out? Sweeting, are your really under the impression that one plastic bag at a time is gonna do it at this stage? Or even worse, were you actually trying to wax poetic over something so actually distrustive to the planet? If your susposed to be a ‘green’ site then how about giving some valid info. For instance, it’s going to take hundreds of millions of people to agree to stop using plastic ‘everything’ to fix this and we all know that the greed in the world isn’t going to let that happen. So pie in the sky all sunshine and lollie pop, ‘one bag at a time you want, just don’t do it on a site that claims to be ‘green’. Saying your a green site says you understand how bad things are and ‘one bag at a time’ pretty much says you haven’t got a clue. Oh yes, I like the ‘God ruins the runiners’ idea. See, that would actually work.
    Thanks for the voice,

  4. Roberta says:

    Sammi– I have not lost my marbles but fear you may have. You need to go back and read the post again. It is actually about Capt, Charles Moore who has managed to make a huge difference when it comes to alerting the world to the dangers of plastic ( not just bags either) in the ocean. His foundation is not only doing much research but also working internationally to do something about the growing problem of garbage in the Pacific gyre( which, btw is the subject of the post– not plastic bags)

    Sorry you feel that one person cannot make any difference. Perhaps that is true of you, but clearly not of Capt. Moore.

  5. Sammie says:

    Well, At least your talking science and not still doing your waxing poetic thing over bag this time!
    Cheers to you!

  6. Noah says:

    I think I agree with Shanon,
    Even envirnmentalist cant even speak to each other without causing a fight. I think the earth’s destruction began along time ago and there isnt much we as a portion of the world can do. Until something truelly bad happens to cause it to go into the eyes of the news reporters than it will remain something that most people regard as nothing important. Or a divine gift from God, but that wasnt what revelations fortold so I personally dont believe that there will be a good outcome. Thats not me saying its okay to keep on doing whats done, just that whats done cant be undone.

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