Wednesday, November 30, 2011

THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH

When I started doing my in-depth research on this topic, I thought I would find a bunch of pictures of plastic trash floating in the middle of the ocean, kind of like a giant island of soda bottles.  But it turns out that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch doesn't really look like that.  In fact, you can't really even see it because all the plastic breaks down into teeny tiny pieces, and it sinks below the surface of the water, and then you can hardly tell if you are in the garbage patch or not.




There's a place in the Pacific Ocean that is called the North Pacific Gyre.  It's formed by the water currents swirling around in sort of a huge circle, and as the water goes around, it herds all the debris and stuff into the center.  In 1988, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that there would be a Great Garbage Patch, and sure enough, it was discovered in 1997 by a man named Charles J. Moore.  Later on, it turned out that there was also a Great Garbage Patch in the North Atlantic and one in the Indian Ocean, and maybe there are some others, too, but none of them are as big as the Pacific Patch.



Some people say the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is as big as the state of Hawaii, and others say that it is twice the size of Texas.  But the fact is that it's very hard to measure the Patch, because it all depends on what your definition is of how much plastic should be in the water in order for you to call it part of the Patch.  Also some people have said you can see the Great Pacific Garbage Patch from outer space, but this is a lie, since you can pretty much not even see it from a boat right in the middle of it.



You may be wondering where all this plastic trash comes from, and I will tell you.  About 80% of it comes from trash that started out on the land, such as plastic bags and bottles.  Another 10% is plastic fishing nets, and the rest of it is from recreational boats, oil rigs, and cargo ships.  Every year cargo ships lose about 10,000 shipping containers because they fall off, and there might be something plastic inside, like for example computers or rubber duckies.





Trash that isn't made of plastic is what's called biodegradable, which means that it gets gobbled up by tiny little things called microbes.  But plastic is photodegradable, so the sunlight breaks it down into smaller and smaller pieces as time goes on, but it never totally goes away.  When it gets to a microscopic size, it may get eaten by tiny little creatures like plankton or by jellyfish, then bigger fish eat the plankton and jellyfish, and after that, people eat the fish.  This is a bad thing to happen because plastic often has toxic stuff in it, and eating toxic stuff can make you sick.





There are other bad things that happen because of plastic trash in the sea.  For example, seals and turtles and other animals can get tangled up in nets or plastic rings, and then sometimes they drown. And if they don't drown, they might starve to death because the plastic keeps them from eating.  Or they might grow up looking really weird, like this turtle.





Another thing that can happen, especially with birds such as the albatross, is that they pick up plastic that is floating on the water, and then they eat it or feed it to their chicks.  Which causes the birds to starve to death or choke to death or get poisoned by the plastic.








Some scientists are trying to figure out how to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but there is no easy way to do it.  If all the plastic was just floating in a big clump on top the water, like I thought it was, you could just scoop it all up.  But since it is broken down into tiny pieces that are below the surface, it's lots harder to figure out what to do about it.








I wish I were really clever and could solve this problem and save all the animals and fish and birds, but I don't know how to do that.  What I do know is that it would help if everybody tried to use more biodegradable stuff and less plastic.  And if you do use plastic, then you should recycle it so it can get made into something friendly like a park bench.

20 comments:

  1. wow! thanks for the info that is crazy stuff. go green people!

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    1. "go green people!"
      No geen, only everyone...

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  2. Environmental Studies is my minor. I definitely support the green movement and wellfare of our planet.

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  3. Why humans are sooooo inhuman, killing around all living being and now killing very earth we live on!!!! actually, we humans are parasitic disease.........

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    1. Indeed. The world would be a much better place if there were no humans. Let's just hope that we won't be around for to long or this planet is doomed..

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    2. Tree hugging hippies

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    3. the only way to convince people that have enouff curency to help is to tell them that if we dont go green that whay wont be able to spend there money becuse they, like every thing elce, will be DEAD!

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  4. ive only just heard about the great pacific garbage patch this is the first sight ive found about it. its sooooo sad that people would actually do this to the environment were ruening our home and everyone elses aswell its sooooooooooo upsetting that people act this way. we need to go green, green, green, green, green, green, green.

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    1. I agree. It's very sad. I hope the earth can survive what we're doing to it.

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    2. Shit happens all we can do is try to correct the problem we have made.

      To say that the earth would be better off without us is retarded.

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    3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. to use the word retarded in a derogatory sense is illogical. it would be far better off without us. anyone with a sliver of education knows that. read a book.

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    1. Perhaps it would be better off without you... You however, would be far worse off if it didn't have you.

      P.S. learn to spell people.

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  6. the reason no gonverment will help fix the problim is that it will put them in milliens of dollers worth of debt so maby we could call up a meeting to gather donatins once we figer out what we are going to do?

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  7. Are we not supposed to join together in disgust of this problem we have all helped to create? To me it looks like we are arguing about spelling and someone's choice of words. English might not be their first language!(this "is" the World Wide Web) Does it really matter if someone says retarded!! As long as they have the passion to make a change, then we ban together! Nothing will ever change as long as humans enjoy fighting with each other over making progress.

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  8. To the person who replied with "P.S. learn to spell people", that statement is irrelevant to anything on this page. We are not at a spelling bee nor are we discussing/debating/arguing about anything related to language, grammar or spelling. Please stick to the issue at hand and not change the subject.

    As for this article itself, it saddens me to think that this is actually real. The problem is that we humans are in the mindset of "out of sight, out of mind" and even worse, "I'm only 1 person, I can't change anything". When the latter is multiplied by nearly every person on the planet, it actually makes a difference.

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  9. No one rejoices in the fact that this thing exists. No one is striving to pollute the earth. Most people don't even realize where their trash can end up. All they know is that when that day of the week comes, they roll their trash to the curb and it gets taken away. To the people who say,"Humans are a parasitic disease"... wow. If you think that, why do you even continue living? What would be the reason to continue the existence of such a parasitic species? I'm not saying to kill yourself, I'm just confused because the fact that you were even alive to go and post that proves you are a hypocrite. Seriously reconsider that comment...

    The truth is that there isn't really a way yet to efficiently clean up this mess. Its hard to see, and behind what anyone sees are millions of tiny particles that can pose just as much of a threat to marine life as larger pieces of trash can. Even with millions, or billions of dollars to throw at the cleanup, it would never go away. Why? because the source of the problem wouldn't be met. The source of the problem is the use plastic.

    This problem could easily be compared to the issue with the U.S. debt. Congress is willing to continue to fund a failing financial policy, but just as it prints out more money, its debt grows. The real issue is the spending of money. I'm sure people would love to help clean up the trash, but would it really do anything? no. It would just slow down the inevitable, just like raising the debt ceiling is only adding days until it will be reached again. The real issue would not be met, ultimately resulting in failure and wasted effort.

    Some people might suggest that the government add even more power to the EPA. That is not the solution. People must learn to be good citizens; change must come from within the people. If you see a piece of trash on the ground, why not pick it up? If you are done with a piece of plastic, why not walk a few more steps to your recycling bin? You can only write so many laws...











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    1. Thank you very much for posting a comment on my blog. I like what you said because it makes sense, and it shows that you have been thinking about this topic. I don't like it when people believe there is an easy solution for every problem, or else when they just want to blame other people for the bad stuff that is happening in the world.
      Sincerely,
      Piper

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