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Garbage Island in the Middle of the Pacific Impacts Oxygen and Climate change
Watch the scientific video about the plastic catastrophy forming in the Pacific Ocean.
Great Pacific Garbage Patch
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a heap of debris floating in the Pacific that's twice the size of Texas, according to marine biologists.
The enormous stew of trash - which consists of 80 percent plastics and weighs some 3.5 million tons, say oceanographers - floats where few people ever travel, in a no-man's land between San Francisco and Hawaii.
LINK to the video preview of "Pelagic Plastic"
the story of the plastic dump in the Pacific
Marcus Eriksen, director of research and education at the Algalita Marine Research Foundation in Long Beach, said his group has been monitoring the Garbage Patch for 10 years.
The patch has been growing, along with ocean debris worldwide, tenfold every decade since the 1950s, said Chris Parry, public education program manager with the California Coastal Commission in San Francisco.
Ocean current patterns may keep the flotsam stashed in a part of the world few will ever see, but the majority of its content is generated onshore, according to a report from Greenpeace.
The report found that
80 percent of the oceans' litter
originated on land.
"At this point, cleaning it up isn't an option," Parry said. "It's just going to get bigger as our reliance on plastics continues. ... The long-term solution is to stop producing as much plastic products at home and change our consumption habits."
Chabot said if environmentalists wanted to remove the ocean dump site, it would take a massive international effort that would cost billions.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is particularly dangerous for birds and marine life, said Warner Chabot, vice president of the Ocean Conservancy, an environmental group.
The Greenpeace report found that at least 267 marine species had suffered from some kind of ingestion or entanglement with marine debris.
Plastic in the ocean may be one of the most alarming of today's environmental stories. Plastic, like diamonds, are forever! Because plastics do NOT biodegrade, no naturally occurring organisms can break these polymers down. Instead, plastic goes through a process called photodegredation, where sunlight breaks down plastic into smaller and smaller pieces until there is only plastic dust. But always plastic remains a polymer. When plastic debris meets the sea it can remain for centuries causing untold havoc in ecosystems.
Parry said using canvas bags to cart groceries instead of using plastic bags is a good first step; buying foods that aren't wrapped in plastics is another.
- Reduce and change the way we manufacture plastic. Every bit of plastic that has ever been manufactured still exists!
- Limit your use of plastics whenever possible.
- Use a reusable bag when shopping. Throwaway bags can easily blow into the ocean.
- Take your trash with you when you leave the beach.
- Make sure your trash bins are securely closed. Keep all trash in closed bags.
The trash circles in the Pacific currents and can float for hundreds of years at the center of the circular currents -- providing toxic food for fish and birds, and reducing the number of plankton. Research shows 6 pounds of plastic to every 1 pound of plankton in this cauldron!
Story SOURCE: SF Gate
Video and Illustration RESOURCE: www.algalita.org/
Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions