The News is In
Researchers Finding Much More Plastic than Expected
It’s hard to imagine finding plastic garbage fragments and bits throughout the huge Pacific Ocean. But, researchers are doing just that. From the very start of their journey, they are netting plastic with every tow sampling.
Images below: See the plastic bits floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from land. The Scripps Institute Research vessel is reporting its findings.
Below: Ghost Net Floating in the Middle
of the Pacific Ocean
Pictures Credited to Seaplex, Scripps Institute Reseach Project
Giant Floating Garbage Patch: The Scripps Institute Reseach vessel has officially reached the huge “Great Pacific Floating Patch” in the Pacific Gyre.
Today, they report finding much more plastic than expected. In fact, they are finding it everywhere, even from the beginning of their voyage.
One of the observers describes what they are seeing: “It is a soup of bits, pieces and strands. If you look out over the water you see a beautiful cobalt blue ocean. If you look down you see a little bits of things that were once important to someone probably 1,000 miles away…
Most of the water has plastic in it. With the obvious and already stated fact that the ocean is huge, it is the job of the scientist to put the numbers into perspective…”
They are collecting small feeder fish, expressing concern that the small feeder fish that are eaten by larger predator fish may be eating fragments of plastic, thus absorbing chemicals and toxins directly into their systems. Since we eat the larger fish that feed upon these feeder fish, we would be ingesting these pollutants from our seafood.
This seems to be a more serious problem than they had imagined. Although they are glad they were able to reach their destination, discover exactly what they were looking for, they find themselves somewhat somber and a bit depressed having seen the severity of the problem.
They also are reporting via CBS 8 that a large number of sea turtles, birds, mammals and fish sea life are dying due to the marine debris.
The researchers will be investigating ways to clean up the “toxic mess.”
Project Kaisei Embarks to Investigate the “Dump”
Sylvia Earle “Explorer-in-Residence”
National Geographic, Mission Programs
“Solving a problem starts with knowing that you have one. Project Kaisei vividly shows how discarded plastics are clogging the ocean, causing a major problem for the planet’s vital “blue heart,” entangling marinelife and insidiously killing as it accumulates in the food chain, from tiny plankton to great whales. Best of all, the mission highlights hope with ideas for positive action.” http://www.projectkaisei.org/
Note: The Project Kaisei team will embark on a multi-week expedition to the “Plastic Vortex” from the West Coast in order to:
– Study and document the marine debris found in this area of the Pacific Ocean;
– Test catch methods for removing the debris;
– Conduct research on the chemical interactions of marine debris in the gyre and select fishes and wildlife related to persistent organic pollutants (POPs);
– Understand the needs required to undertake an eventual large scale clean-up of the waste material;
– Test technologies for conversion into an economically viable by-product: diesel fuel.”
A giant, almost endless plastic soup extends
a wider distance than the length and breadth
of the United States, right smack in the middle
of the Pacific Ocean.
Scripps Scientists Aboard Research Vessel to Study Huge Garbage Dump
“From August 2-21, a group of doctoral students and research volunteers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego will embark on an expedition aboard the Scripps research vessel New Horizon to explore the problem of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre.
The Scripps Environmental Accumulation of Plastic Expedition (SEAPLEX) is the first of its kind and will focus on a suite of critical questions. How much plastic is accumulating, how is it distributed, and how is it affecting ocean life?
The researchers hope to provide critical, timely data to policy makers and combine Scripps’ long tradition of Pacific exploration with focus on a new and pressing environmental problem. ” http://seaplexscience.com
“Capt. Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch — an endless floating waste of plastic trash. Now he’s drawing attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas.” (Link from the Oprah Show)
This plastic “continent” stretches a distance wider than the United States and can be 90 deep or greater in places. It’s growing by leaps and bounds due to extensive plastic waste cast off by a “throwaway” mentality of the world’s consumers.
5 Things You Didn’t Know About Garbage
- There’s a continent of garbage in the Pacific gyre. (Gyre: swirling center region of the ocean’s currents)
- There’s garbage all over Mt. Everest – it’s “notoriously filthy.”
- Some garbage can live a million years… or more.
- Landfills pollute worse than… chernobyl. Then expel vast quantities of toxic gases.
- Plasma” can obliterate garbage. (Discovery Link to Plasma Gasification)
See more about Plasma, below.
According to Charles Moore, garbage growth is so extensive that the expansion of this island of trash seems virtually unstoppable, and may eventually, sooner than later, choke off the world’s fish supply.
Currently, over 90% of the world’s larger consumable fish stores are gone, depleted.
In addition, if the destruction of plankton is severe enough, oxygen levels will diminish and the world’s atmosphere is at risk.
There are many foreseen as well as unforeseen repurcussions to the huge accumulations of non-biodegradable waste in the world’s oceans.
Animals are indeed dying in record numbers exceeding hundreds of thousands. Seabirds feed their young colorful plastic bits, and the baby birds die a slow death. Sea mammals perish in netting and plastic coils and strips and die from poisoning as well.
Almost all fish are becoming contaminated with plastic bits and chemicals – even the tiniest fish. As Charles Moore says, “You can buy certified organic produce, but no fishmonger on earth can sell you a certified, organic, wild caught fish.”
The only solution: To stop the plastic at its source. It would be impossible to clean up the ocean. No country or power has the money or wherewithal to remove even a small proportion of plastic trash.
It is the only hope, but Charles hold’s little hope that we can change.
Ways to Help
Ocean Heroes at Oceana.org
Actors, musicians, scientists and authors,
ocean lovers, advocates
Algalita has a DVD that chronicles and explains this massive problem. Undoubtedly the cost helps support their efforts.
Great Links courtesy of Askmen.com
PLASMA: It’s working in other countries…
“Since 2002, two commercial waste-to-energy plasma gasification plants have been operating successfully in Japan.
The Mihama-Mikata facility processes 24 tons of municipal sold waste and 4 tons of sewage sludge per day, producing steam and hot water for local use.
The Utashinai plant processes up to 300 tons per day of waste and/or automobile shredder residue.
This facility produces up to 7.9 Megawatts of electricity, of which 3.6 MW are used to run the plasma torches and the plant, and up to 4.3 MW are sent to the electrical power grid.
In Ottawa, Canada, people are evaluating a demonstration facility that is currently processing 94 tons of waste per day, sending 4 MW of power to the grid.”
Note: This technology has been scaled back in the United States by 80%. Why is that? Could it be that it’s not “profitable” enough and the “greed” factor isn’t attractive to investors?
Or, perhaps the technology would impinge upon the profitability of current technologies.