1. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The Pacific Garbage Patch

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Wreybies, Jul 15, 2008.

    We can argue until we choke under hydrofluoric clouds about Global Warming, but here’s an issue for which there can be only one source. Us. For those who believe that humans have no appreciable impact on the environment, I present to you...

    The Pacific Garbage Patch

    [​IMG]


    For several years, ocean researcher Charles Moore has been investigating a concentration of floating plastic debris in the North Pacific Gyre. He has reported concentrations of plastics on the order of 3.34 pieces per square meter with a mean mass of 5.1 milligrams per square meter collected using a manta trawl with a rectangular opening of 0.9m x 0.15m at the surface. Trawls at depths of 10m found less than half, consisting primarily of monofilament line fouled with diatoms and other plankton.

    Estimates of the size of the patch vary from the size of Texas to twice as large as the continental United States. Researcher Dr. Marcus Eriksen believes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is two areas of rubbish that are linked. Eriksen says the gyre stretches from about 500 nautical miles off the coast of California, across the Northern Pacific to near the coast of Japan.
    The Independent newspaper stated that Moore estimates there are 100 million tons of flotsam in the North Pacific Gyre.

    Much of the plastic is in very small pieces floating under the surface of the water, so capturing a photograph of the patch is not possible. Because the garbage is so small and scattered, clean-up is also incredibly difficult without endangering sea life.

    One of the first researchers to study the Pacific gyre was oceanographer W. James Ingraham Jr. He developed the Ocean Surface Current Simulator (OSCURS) and predicts that objects trapped in the gyre may remain trapped there for sixteen years or more.

    The floating particles also resemble zooplankton, which can lead to them being consumed by jellyfish, thus entering the ocean food chain. In samples taken from the gyre in 2001, the mass of plastic exceeded that of zooplankton (the dominant animal life in the area) by a factor of seven. Many of these long-lasting pieces end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals, including sea turtles, and Black-footed Albatross. Besides ingestion and entanglement of wildlife, the floating debris absorbs toxins in the water which, when ingested, are mistaken by the animal brain for estradiol, causing hormone disruption in the affected wildlife.

    There are many disturbing images on the web of the skeletal corpses of marine birds showing huge quantaties of plastic items in what was once their stomachs causing their deaths. I thought that displaying them would be in bad taste.
     
  2. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    It's sad that it seems to be part of our nature to destroy. Seen as we pride ourselves on being the most 'intelligent' species on the planet, and also see ourselves as it's owner and protector, that we go about destroying it, rather than preserving it.

    Something Agent Smith pointed out in The Matrix seems worth mention here- humans are unlike any other animal, in that we don't create an equilibrium with the enviroment we move into, we just use up it's resources until it's barren, and then move on.
     
  3. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    I remember reading about this in The World Without Us by Alan Weisman (a fairly decent book), and my reaction then was what it was then now: What can I do to help? Every time I see this articles I get pissed, partly because of the obvious- we're screwing up our environment- and partly because I feel dumb- I could use some practical ideas on what to do to stop things like this.
    It doesn't help that I'm a teen with no control over my household.
    Waargh.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Your question, and the frustration you feel over having no control, is the very crux of the matter. I posted this because of the other thread concerning Global Warming, and the ridiculous arguments concerning where to place blame. Blame is not the issue! The issue, the real matter at hand, is how do we get ourselves out of the crazy circle of polluting the planet when our very economies depend on the creation of all this pollution. We have allowed a dependency on these products that has become a moral dilemma.

    Plastic is killing the planet, no doubt.

    Plastic saves lives every day in hospitals and ambulances across the globe.

    How do we choose?

    Plastic leaches chemicals into our food that mimic hormones and are changing the way humans (and every other creature that comes in contact with it) develop.

    Plastic containers make it possible to bring food and medicine to people who would otherwise not have access to it and would die.

    How do we choose?
     
  5. Harmire
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    Harmire Member

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    The picture in the OP looks like the beaches of the lake I live at. I just get a twang of pain in my heart every time I see the world being trashed like that.
     
  6. Domoviye
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    Domoviye Contributing Member

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    They should develop large ships that will go through the ocean, and suck up this garbage. Drain the water from the garbage (send it back into the ocean), and start recycling all the plastic. Grind it up and melt it down. Basically act like a large blue whale eating krill.
    Should be doable, and if there's as much garbage as they say, it would pay for itself after a few years. Selling old plastic back to companies to reuse is already a big business in some parts of the world. So we'd be saving the world, making money, and employing people. Awesome.
    I don't agree with global warming (but I'm not touching that thread with a ten foot pole), but this is a serious problem we have caused, and we CAN FIX it.
     
  7. mmorsepfd
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    mmorsepfd Member

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    Perhaps there is a plan in which mankind is on the earth to create plastic. Maybe the earth needs it for some future use long after we are extinct, for extinct we shall be eventually. It's just the way things are.
     
  8. Heather Louise
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    Heather Louise Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is a shame to see pictures like that, it actually makes you realise what you are doing to the planet. I try to recycle as much as I can, well I say I, I mean my mam. :p Paper, card, bottles, jars and cans all get reclycled every week.

    On a funnier note, I thought the thread title was The Pacific Cabbage Patch ... LMAO
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I actually find Newark, NJ more shocking. Miles upon miles of chemical storage tanks in every direction, and there's an unmistakeable odor everywhere.
     
  10. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've been thinking about that picture Wrey and I have a bit different take on it. The ocean HAS a natural cleansing mechanism...waves and tides. That picture proves it in a dramatic way. During a falling tide, waves often leave behind a flotsam of contamination on the shore. From dead whale carcasses to human trash, it all ends up on a beach somewhere. To "clean" the oceans of the human debris, we only need two actions:

    1) Clean the beaches on a regular basis (thus preventing return to the ocean at the next high tide),

    2) Stop adding to the mess.

    If we simply follow that formula, it is just a matter of time until the oceans are purged from the human part of the waste. "Natural" waste...red tides, animal carcasses, sediment raised by cataclysmic conditions like typhoons, earthquakes, monsoons and underwater volcanic activity...these things will never stop appearing in the ocean's filtration system...i.e. the beaches. But, the contribution by man can easily be fixed over time.

    US ships are no longer allowed to dump trash at sea. I can't speak for other foreign registries but I know US registered vessels and ALL ships entering US waters are prohibited from dumping waste. Even bilge water pump out is being regulated now because of the invader species that have appeared in US waters from overseas...the Mitten Crabs arrived from China (probably in bilge water) and now they threaten the coastal and inland water ecosystems around San Francisco Bay. Quagga Mussels first appeared in the Great Lakes (from Europe) and they have spread...now threatening the fresh water supply for all of Southern California. The list of invader species is growing fast and the US government is cracking down on everything from trash dumping to bilge pump out. I hope other countries are doing the same.
     

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