Great Pacific Garbage Patch | We Headed For Space Yet?
Will the “Wall-E” future come true?
In the Pixar film “Wall-E,” pollution has run rampant, to the point where the Earth is uninhabitable. Much of this pollution comes straight from the waste inherent in our high-speed consumer culture of convenience. As a result of their sloth, humankind have been forced to evacuate the planet and live a complacent life among the stars.
And what should we learn?
The movie is meant to draw our attention to the responsibility we have to maintain our world for future generations. There will come a time when we must take to the stars and look for new places to continue the spreading of our race. I’m not saying it will be exactly like “Wall-E,” “Dune” or any other science fiction stories we’re familiar with, but astronomic events will eventually rob Earth of its ability to sustain life. There are numerous astronomers and scientists who believe this, so I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness here. I’d bet short term loans and payday loans with no faxing on it, if I were a betting man…
But let’s not rush to muck things up!
That’s exactly what the Great Pacific Garbage Patch represents: our lack of care, moving us ever closer to the day when life will be choked away by all the garbage. I include apocalypse/”Rapture”-type cults among this garbage… it’s just garbage that chokes out the intellect instead of birds, plants, fish and asthmatics.
Paul Rogers reports for MercuryNews.com that scientists are doing all they can to learn more about “one of the most glaring examples of waste and environmental pollution on Earth,” the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. For those of you who don’t know what this is, it’s a place 1,000 miles west of California and north of Hawaii where all the trash from our sewers and storm drains flows. It’s “a massive vortex of floating plastic trash estimated by some researchers to be twice the size of Texas,” says Rogers.
Mary Crowley, co-founder of the nonprofit expedition Project Kaisei, believes that it’s high time something be done about this serious threat to life in the Pacific Ocean.
“More and more now, you see signs of marine debris and plastic everyplace. You can be at very remote beaches, and you’ll see plastic bottles, barrels, toys and a lot of plastic fishing nets,” she said.
I say more effort should be made to clean up such waste and recycle it, whenever possible. If you want to start such an effort in your community, take that first step. It may take a little bit of money to get it off the ground (biodegradable advertising signs, a Web site, etc), and if you need a cash boost to get that going, payday loans with no faxing and short term loans are available right here.
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Find a new use for plastic – fast!
It’s unclear exactly when the Great Pacific Garbage Patch began to form or what its exact boundaries are, but it is know that the plastic that forms the bulk of it will not decompose in the traditional sense. Exposure to sunlight will eventually break it down into small pieces, but that could simply make it more difficult to clean up. Truly, many scientists believe that cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch will be impossible. The last hope may be that it can be converted into some sort of fuel.
Studying the harm done
Crowley and other researchers like Miriam Goldstein aim to study the size of the garbage patch and how it affects ocean wildlife.
“We are going to try to target the highest-plastic areas we see to begin to understand the scope of the problem,” said Goldstein. “The team of graduate students will be studying everything from phytoplankton to zooplankton to small midwater fish.”
The danger of confetti
That’s what the plastic essentially breaks down into. According to Rogers, there are billions of pieces of tiny plastic floating just below the surface of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Not only are the smaller pieces much harder to collect, but they’re much more likely to be consumed by wildlife like sea birds and fish. The plastic then fills their stomachs without providing nutrients. This often leads to death of the animal. Furthermore, plastic pieces can absorb toxic chemicals, which migrate up the food chain and eventually make it to humans.
And more frightening bits
Plastic fishing line, some of them from drift nets that are several tons in weight, entangle thousands of sea turtles, whales and marine mammals each year. In addition to this, plastic junk carried by the currents of the North Pacific Gyre include cigarette lighters, floats, toothbrushes, bottle caps and more. Some of the junk is decades old.
To put the amount of waste in perspective, scientists point out that for every pound of plankton in the center Pacific Ocean, there are as many as six pounds of marine litter as seen in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. That’s about 46,000 pieces of plastic litter for each square mile of the oceans, according to a 2006 United Nations study.
What can we do?
Full cleanup may be impossible, so in the time we have left on Earth before space travel makes a mass exodus possible, we must be responsible. Try to recycle your plastic waste, or only use products that break down in the environment. Dispose of waste properly, too – don’t just chuck it down the drain or into the ocean. Also, whenever the opportunity comes about to help fund scientific studies and projects designed to help combat such problems, donate if you can.