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Thread: Pacific Gyre: Plastic Garbage Patch

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    Default Pacific Gyre: Plastic Garbage Patch


    debunkery
    By Annalee Newitz
    May 21, 2012 9:05 AM
    62,755 89





    Lies You’ve Been Told About the Pacific Garbage Patch

    You've probably heard of the "Pacific garbage patch," also called the "trash vortex." It's a region of the North Pacific ocean where the northern jet stream and the southern trade winds, moving opposite directions, create a vast, gently circling region of water called the North Pacific Gyre — and at its center, there are tons of plastic garbage. You may even have seen this picture of the garbage patch, above — right? Wrong.


    That image, widely mislabeled as a shot of the Pacific garbage patch, is actually from Manila harbor. And it's just one of many misconceptions the public has about what's really happening to plastics in the ocean. We talked with Scripps Institution marine biologist Miriam Goldstein, who has just completed a study of how plastic is changing the ecosystem in the North Pacific Gyre, about myths and realities of the Pacific garbage patch.



    Full size



    "That picture of the guy in the canoe has been following me around my whole career!" Goldstein laughed when I brought it up. "I think it's an example of media telephone, where somebody wanted something dramatic to illustrate their story — and then through the magic of the internet, the picture got mislabeled." Goldstein has gone on several research trips to the garbage patch, 1,000 miles off the coast of California, and has even swum in it. "We have never seen anything like that picture," she asserted. "I've never seen it personally, and we've never seen it on satellite."

    MYTH: There is a giant island of solid garbage floating in the Pacific.
    FACT: There are millions of small and microscopic pieces of plastic, about .4 pieces per cubic meter, floating over a roughly 5000 square km area of the Pacific. This amount has increased significantly over the past 40 years.


    In reality, Goldstein said, most pieces of garbage in the Pacific are "about the size of your pinkie fingernail." Though she and her team have found some larger pieces of plastic, like buoys and tires, most are microscopic. What's alarming about them isn't their size, but the sheer amount of plastic. To figure out how much there really is, she and her team have trawled the surface of the ocean in random locations over a 1700 square mile region in the gyre. Once a day, they drag a very fine, specialized net behind the boat. On one such sampling trip, she and her team found plastic pieces in 117 out of 119 random samples. On another, they found plastic in all 28 samples they took.


    This is a video of Goldstein in 2010, talking about some of the group's earlier research trips to collect samples from the surface of the ocean in the North Pacific Gyre.

    Since the 1970s, scientists have been using the same sampling methods — and the same kinds of trawling nets, invented by oceanographer Lanna Cheng — to measure the amount of plastic in the ocean. So Goldstein and her colleagues are able to make historical comparisons, and measure increases in plastic density. In a recent paper, they write, "Microplastic debris in the North Pacific increased by two orders of magnitude between 1972–1987 and 1999–2010 in both numerical and mass concentrations."




    MYTH: All this plastic is killing animals.
    FACT: Some animals are being harmed, but others are thriving. Here's why that could be a problem.


    Nobody who studies ocean ecosystems would ever argue that this plastic isn't harmful. But many documentaries and articles about the garbage patch make it seem as if the main problem is that the garbage is killing animals. Birds and fish mistake the plastic for food, eat it, and then slowly starve to death. Goldstein points out that there is clear evidence that both birds and fish are eating the plastic, but it's very hard to draw conclusions about whether eating it is killing them. Generally, scientists are only able to examine the stomachs of animals who are already dead.



    "Some studies of albatrosses show plastic correlating with poor nutrition — and you do see a lot of dead chicks with their stomachs absolutely stuffed with plastic," Goldstein explained. The problem is that we don't know whether there are also birds who eat the plastic and survive. "We're not going to go around killing baby albatrosses to examine their stomach contents," she added.


    This is an even more difficult issue when it comes to fish, since she and many other researchers have found living fish with plastic in their stomachs. It's not clear whether these fish are suffering malnutrition, or are unharmed by eating plastic because they can just pass it out in their excrement. Fish digestive systems are a lot different from those of birds, so it's possible that what's harmful to the albatrosses isn't affecting the fish as much.






    And finally, there is a class of creatures who are actually thriving as a result of the plastic influx. These are water skater insects, small crabs, barnacles, and invertebrates called bryozoans, who live on hard surfaces in the water. Some of them, like the barnacles and bryozoans, can do a lot of damage to ship hulls and have caused harm in other ecosystems they've invaded. Usually, these creatures lead a hardscrabble life, barely making it in the deep ocean where hard surfaces are limited to, as Goldstein put it, "the odd floating tree trunk, rare shells, feathers, or pieces of pumice." But now, with all the plastic floating around, these once-rare creatures are enjoying a boom time.


    In her recent paper, Goldstein and her colleagues offer persuasive evidence that water skaters are laying their eggs on pieces of plastic in much greater numbers than ever before. Does this mean a glut of water skaters? Not necessarily. Their eggs are large and yellow, which means they stand out in a world of clear blue water. Possibly what's happening is that all these eggs are easy prey for fish and crabs who eat them. No matter what's happening to these eggs, we're going to see an imbalance in this ecosystem, where suddenly a lot more water skaters or crabs are competing with the locals for more food.




    MYTH: The plastisphere is killing the ocean.
    FACT: The plastisphere is an ecosystem out of balance.


    The "plastisphere" is a term coined by marine biologist Erik Zettler to describe the creatures — like water skaters — who thrive in an environment with hard surfaces in the water. They are similar to creatures who cling to piers or the hulls of ships. Before human-made hard surfaces were everywhere, they would have lived on rocks or flotsam. The problem with the plastisphere is that it's radically changing the balance of a sea ecosystem that was once mostly just open ocean creatures.


    "One thing that people worry about is that hard surfaces can transport invasive species," Goldstein said. "Some animals are good at hitching a ride and they can be destructive. By adding big chunks of plastic these species can move around better, and could be introduced to places like the Northwest Pacific Islands, where there are some of the best coral reefs in the world." In other words, the plastisphere isn't destroying the ocean ecosystem — the creatures who ride on the plastic are. We're witnessing an ecosystem that is slowly falling off balance.


    For now, the open ocean is still mostly inhabited by lantern fish. "There's one lantern fish for every cubic meter of ocean," Goldstein explained, noting that these fish are probably more common than the pieces of plastic her team has sampled. But if trends continue, we're going to see more plastic than fish. And with that plastic will come more invasive species, more water skaters, and more creatures to eat the water skaters' eggs. The danger is that this could alter the open ocean forever — and destroy all the native life there that has kept the oceans healthy for thousands of years.


    Read Goldstein, et. al.'s paper about water skaters in Biology Letters.
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    I thought a couple years ago I had a goal of actually "observing" this alleged "plastic island" in the Pacific.

    And people have talked about it over and over on some of the cruisers forums.

    As it turns out, it appears no one has actually SEEN this thing, there are NO pictures and everyone who claims to have "seen it" can't give a location.

    I have had issues with plastic crap floating in both the ocean and in lakes with sailing. I try to hook plastic bags out with a boat hook if I come close enough and dispose of them some other way, because frankly they get caught in engine intakes on inboard engines and sucked into the intakes on outboards blocking water flow. They all can gum up a prop in a heartbeat.

    But, they are omnipresent either... so thought this would be a good article if anyone was interested, and the place I put it gives you my true view of the world.
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    Again, I don't see the latitude and longitude of this place.... I have my doubts it actually exists:

    Research ship finds the world's oceans are 'plasticized'

    By Rose Hoare, for CNN
    updated 10:03 AM EDT, Tue May 22, 2012

    Expeditions to ocean gyres sometimes encounter 'ghost nets' - discarded fishing equipment that can tangle into a hazard for marine organisms.






    HIDE CAPTION



    Swimming in 'synthetic soup'



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    STORY HIGHLIGHTS

    • A research expedition has found plastic in the last unexplored part of the ocean
    • The crew, which includes packaging experts, is studying the effects on marine life of plastic pollution
    • It will next attempt to measure the density and toxicity of Japanese tsunami debris
    • Plastic in the ocean has increased 100-fold in the last 40 years, scientists estimate



    (CNN) -- A marine expedition of environmentalists has confirmed the bad news it feared -- the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" extends even further than previously known.


    Organized by two non-profit groups -- the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the 5 Gyres Institute -- the expedition is sailing from the Marshall Islands to Japan through a "synthetic soup" of plastic in the North Pacific Ocean on a 72-feet yacht called the Sea Dragon, provided by Pangaea Exploration.


    The area is part of one of the ocean's five tropical gyres -- regions where bodies of water converge, with currents delivering high concentrations of plastic debris. The Sea Dragon is visiting the previously unexplored western half of the North Pacific gyre -- situated below the 35th parallel, and home to a massive expanse of plastic particles known as the "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" -- to look for plastic pollution and study its effect on marine life.


    Leading the expedition is Marcus Eriksen, a former U.S. marine and Ph.D student from University of Southern California.


    Our nets come up with a handful of plastic fragments at a time, in every trawl we've done for the last thousand miles.

    Marcus Eriksen, expedition leader





    "We've been finding lots of micro plastics, all the size of a grain of rice or a small marble," Eriksen said via satellite phone. "We drag our nets and come up with a small handful, like confetti -- 10, 20, 30 fragments at a time. That's how it's been, every trawl we've done for the last thousand miles."


    Eriksen, who has sailed through all five gyres, said this confirmed for him "that the world's oceans are 'plasticized.' Everywhere you go in the ocean, you're going to find this plastic waste."
    Growing glaciers smother climate debate
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    Japan quake debris moving toward Hawaii


    Besides documenting the existence of plastic pollution, the expedition intends to study how long it takes for communities of barnacles, crabs and molluscs to establish, whether the plastic can serve as a raft for species to cross continents, and the prevalence of chemical pollutants.


    On a second leg from Tokyo to Hawaii departing May 30, the team expect to encounter material dislodged by the Japanese tsunami.


    "We'll be looking for debris that's sub-surface: overturned boats, refrigerators, things that wind is not affecting," Eriksen said. "We'll get an idea of how much is out there, what's going on and what it's carrying with it, in terms of toxins."


    Scripps Institute graduate Miriam Goldstein was chief scientist on a similar expedition to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 2009. According to her research, there has been a 100-fold increase in plastic garbage in the last 40 years, most of it broken down into tiny crumbs to form a concentrated soup.


    The particles are so small and profuse that they can't be dredged out. "You need a net with very fine mesh and then you're catching baby fish, baby squid -- everything," Goldstein says. "For every gram of plastic you're taking out, you probably take out more or less the equivalent of sea life."


    We don't necessarily want an ocean stuffed with barnacles
    Miriam Goldstein, scientist





    Scientists are worried that the marine organisms that adapt to the plastic could displace existing species. Goldstein said this was a major concern, as organisms that grow on hard surfaces tend to monopolize already scarce food, to the detriment of other species.


    "Things that can grow on the plastic are kind of weedy and low diversity -- a parallel of the things that grow on the sides of docks," she says. "We don't necessarily want an ocean stuffed with barnacles."


    Sea-level rise: Impacts and mitigation measures around the world
    Eriksen says the mood on the Sea Dragon has been upbeat, with crew members playing a ukulele and doing yoga, "but the sobering reality is that we're trawling through a synthetic soup."


    Also on board is Valerie Lecoeur, founder of a company that makes eco-friendly baby and children's products, including biodegradable beach toys made from corn, and Michael Brown from Packaging 2.0, a packaging consultancy.


    Eriksen says they have been discussing the concept of "extended producer responsibility".


    "As the manufacturer of any good in the world today, you really can't make your product without a plan for its entire use, because you could eventually have 7 billion customers buy your product," he said.


    "If one little button has no plan, the world now has a mountain of buttons to deal with. There is no room for waste, as a concept or a place -- there's just no place to put it anymore. That's the reality we need to face. We've got this plastic everywhere."
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    By the way, the image in the first article of the guy in the canoe is taken in the Philippines I believe, NOT in the middle of the pacific ocean!

    Also, there is actually NO PHYSICAL PLASTIC PATCH, it's all a big FAT LIE:
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    The Great Invisible Pacific Garbage Patch

    7 Nov 2009

    You’ve probably heard of the so-called ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch‘, a giant floating debris field in the Pacific ocean believed to be twice the size of Texas. Apparently vast oceanic currents circle this patch and cause all sort of plastic garbage to gather and float there, as a testament to excessive human waste.


    Now I’m as eager as the next cynical bastard to denounce humanity’s treatment of the planet, but has anyone ever seen this great garbage patch? It should be pretty hard to miss, being twice the size of Texas and all. We sure don’t seem to have a problem spotting Texas on a map.


    Yet there are no pictures or videos of any kind of the garbage patch anywhere to be found. No visual evidence at all.


    Yes, say the environmental pundits, that’s because it’s all floating just beneath the surface! Clever, eh?


    But hey, fish float beneath the surface too, but we’re not lacking any photographic evidence of their existence, are we? If this garbage patch really is so huge and so full of plastic debris, why aren’t there hundreds of Cousteau-type marine explorers coming back with rolls of underwater film shot full of pictures and images?


    Because, *drum-roll*…. the garbage patch doesn’t actually exist. At least, not as we imagine it. Apparently the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is an area with “elevated concentrations of microscopic plastic particles” too small to see with the naked eye. So this is really the Great Invisible Pacific Garbage Patch.


    Not quite so dramatic, is it? Invisible microscopic pieces of plastic don’t make good Greenpeace protest banners or background shots for CNN headline news.


    The moral of this story? Don’t believe everything you’re told. Whether it’s right-wing propaganda excremented by Faux News or left-wing treehugger nonsense, submit it to a healthy dose of skeptical enquiry before you start repeating it.(RD: /chuckles - Faux News, LMAO)



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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    http://sfist.com/2011/11/23/great_pa...tch_a_hoax.php



    Great Pacific Garbage Patch A Hoax?




    (Photo: Erik Wilson)
    You know the Great Pacific Garbage Patch that's splashed on your TV screen during Earth Day? The one that's supposed to scare you into bringing your own bag to Whole Foods? That alleged mass of consumeristic doom and/or gloom that's sure to eat our children's children? Well, the entire thing it a hoax, or so claims the wildly biased Save the Plastic Bag Coalition.
    In part of an article on SF Appeal, Chris Roberts reports:
    "The so-called "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," which is alleged to be twice the size of Texas, does not exist," wrote attorney Stephen Joseph, the coalition's counsel, in a 25-page report...in which Joseph cites scientific studies from the San Diego-based Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, and researchers from the University of Oregon as proof that the plastic patch is pure poppycock. In an interview, Joseph -- who in the early 2000s successfully sued food manufacturers to ban the use of trans-fats -- notes that while there is certainly "some plastic" in the Pacific Ocean, he takes particular issue with claims repeated in media and by politicians.
    "The LA Times claimed in an editorial that 'The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area of the ocean larger than Texas and thick with floating plastic debris: bottles, bottle caps, bits of packaging and uncountable plastic bags.' The statement is totally untrue," Joseph told the Appeal. "You go and show me a photograph. Send me a photo -- I'll send you $100 if you can find one."
    Liberal agenda socialists, you are a crafty bunch, aren't you?
    However, according to the super smart National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "A majority of the debris observed in the 'garbage patch' is small plastic pieces ... Small debris pieces are difficult to see due to their size, and many of these pieces may be suspended below the surface of the water, which would make them even harder to see, even with the human eye."
    Read the entire piece at SF Appeal.
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    Great Pacific Garbage Patch A Hoax, Says Plastic Bag Ban Foes

    by Chris Roberts
    November 23, 2011 10:45 AM




    The mess of plastic in the Pacific Ocean known to many as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is fodder for splashy headlines and useful scaring the kombucha out of environmentalist children. It's also entirely fictitious, a spawn not of 21st-century consumerism but a combination of media hype, green guilt, and "confirmation bias."

    That's the stance of the Save the Plastic Bag Coalition, which went on record against Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi's scheme to extend San Francisco's first-of-its-kind plastic bag ban in a big way.
    The coalition, which includes plastic bag manufacturers like Crown Poly, fired off a lengthy report to the Board of Supervisors in which the notion of the Garbage Patch -- as well as other popularly-held myths, like bags are made from petroleum (wrong: natural gas), greener than paper (wrong: paper emits methane) are dismissed as patent nonsense.

    "The so-called "Great Pacific Garbage Patch," which is alleged to be twice the size of Texas, does not exist," wrote attorney Stephen Joseph, the coalition's counsel, in a 25-page report (scroll through to page 97 of the PDF) in which Joseph cites scientific studies from the San Diego-based Scripps Institute of Oceanography, the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, and researchers from the University of Oregon as proof that the plastic patch is pure poppycock.

    In an interview, Joseph -- who in the early 2000s successfully sued food manufacturers to ban the use of trans-fats -- notes that while there is certainly "some plastic" in the Pacific Ocean, he takes particular issue with claims repeated in media and by politicians.

    "The LA Times claimed in an editorial that 'The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is an area of the ocean larger than Texas and thick with floating plastic debris: bottles, bottle caps, bits of packaging and uncountable plastic bags.' The statement is totally untrue," Joseph told the Appeal. "You go and show me a photograph. Send me a photo -- I'll send you $100 if you can find one."

    In this, Joseph's Benjamins are entirely safe. There are no photos of a great plastic island in the sea, and no images on Google Earth or anywhere else. This is in part because the same scientific sources cited above say that the plastic in the Pacific Ocean consists of tiny particles, often not visible from nearby boats.

    "A majority of the debris observed in the 'garbage patch' is small plastic pieces," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says on its Web site. "Small debris pieces are difficult to see due to their size, and many of these pieces may be suspended below the surface of the water, which would make them even harder to see, even with the human eye."

    The scientists cited by Joseph in his study appear to have more issue with the hyperbolic claims in the media in which the Garbage Patch's size is grossly overestimated. It appears that the patch is confused with the size of the North Pacific Ocean Gyre, the sequence of currents a thousand miles off the coast which cause "marine debris" -- which is "mostly plastic," the NOAA says -- to congregate there.

    Rather than a solid land mass, the plastic there resembles more of a "soup" of plastic particles and bits distributed throughout the water column, according to Algalita, which recommends consumers "try not to use "single use" products made of plastic, such as water bottles and plastic bags."

    A representative from Heal the Bay did not return a telephone message from the Appeal seeking comment.

    The reason why environmentalists and legislators persist in furthering the myth of the patch is "confirmation bias," opined Joseph. "People hear only what they want to hear -- they take in only facts that support what they believed."

    "We agree with Scripps and Oregon State who actually went out there and reported the facts," said Joseph, who has sued Marin County over its ban and pledged to sue San Francisco if the plans to strengthen Mirkarimi's ban are approved. "It [the patch] is not actually garbage -- it's plastic particles. You can't call that the Great Pacific Garbage Patch."

    While the plastic bag ban has the hallmark of oft-derided progressivism, former Mayor Gavin Newsom was a supporter of the original ban, and no less a moderate influence than the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce has pledged its support for extending Mirkarimi's bag ban.

    In a text message, Mirkarimi said the Save the Bag Coalition would "be more convincing if they had NASA or the US Navy on their side. Shameful that these huge petrol and plastics corporations are spending large sums of money to escape responsibility in dealing with all the blowback associated with their profit motive."

    To be fair, Joseph says the coalition is not in any way associated with the American petrochemical industry. Though to be fairer, Joseph declined to tell the Appeal exactly who was funding the coalition and declined to name any northern California-based coalition member, although a Heal the Bay member is also on board with the coalition, he said.

    An estimated 4 billion plastic bags are produced every year, about five percent of which are recycled. So we hear, anyway.
    Last edited by American Patriot; May 22nd, 2012 at 17:29.
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    'Great Garbage Patch' Not So Great After All

    The massive floating island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean isn't nearly as large as reports have claimed, according to a new study.



    By Emily Sohn
    Wed Jan 12, 2011 07:00 AM ET






    THE GIST
    • A well publicized collection of garbage in the Pacific Ocean is not nearly as dramatic as many reports suggest.
    • Instead of mounds and towers, most plastic in the sea is tiny and widely dispersed.
    • The truth may be worse than the actual hype when it comes to threats toward wildlife and the environment.



    enlarge
    Although garbage in the oceans can certainly be problematic, as illustrated in this photo, reports of the Great Ocean Garbage Patch are highly exaggerated, according to one researcher. Click to enlarge this image.

    iStockphoto




    RELATED CONTENT


    It's been called the Great Garbage Patch and "the most shocking thing" Oprah has ever seen: a massive island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that, according to many reports, is twice the size of Texas, outnumbers plankton, and has killed millions of sea birds.


    But many of those claims, according to a new analysis, are huge exaggerations. Others are downright false.


    Plastic is definitely a problem in the oceans, both for animal life and the environment, said Angel White, a microbial oceanographer at Oregon State University in Corvallis. But there are not floating towers of milk jugs, toilet seats and rubber duckies swirling in the middle of the ocean.


    Instead, the majority of plastic in the sea consists of confetti-like specks that are spread out widely and nearly impossible to see with the naked eye.


    Setting the record straight about what's out there is key to regaining the trust of a wary public, White said. In 2008, she joined an expedition with the Center for Microbial Oceanography: Research and Education. It was a boat trip from Hawaii to California, through the heart of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.


    "None of us on that cruise had been to the patch, but we had all heard that it's twice the size of Texas. That's in a textbook," she said. "These statements are so frequent and in so many places that they are accepted as fact. But they undermine the credibility of those advocating for reduction of plastic pollution in the terrestrial and marine environments."


    "Plastic is everywhere," and it's insidious, she said. "But it's not a patch."


    White's main goal on the research cruise was to look at relationships between plastic and marine microbes. Along with experiments on microbial respiration and productivity rates, she and colleagues tediously counted and sorted pieces of plastic that were caught in nets towed behind the boat.


    When the scientists extrapolated their results into estimates of how much plastic is swirling in ocean gyres, their numbers were just about the same as what other studies have found. But those numbers don't match up with the imagery often described in the media, White said. She has presented her findings to other experts and is preparing a paper for publication.


    "You might see a piece of Styrofoam or a bit of fishing line float by at random intervals after hours or 20 minutes, but greater than 90 percent of the plastic was less than 10 millimeters in diameter," she said. "If you filled a thousand Nalgene water bottles in the North Pacific, three to five would have one piece of plastic in them the size of an eraser."


    On an expedition through the garbage patch last summer with the Sea Education Association and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, author and biogeographer David M. Lawrence noticed a similar pattern. Most of the plastic their boat picked up was tiny, widely dispersed and invisible to the naked eye.


    "I was under the impression that you had these big conglomerations that were like Empire State buildings-tall," said Lawrence, who's based in Mechanicsville, Va., and was not surprised by White's analysis. "But that's not what it's like."


    Even as the garbage patch fails to live up to the hype of a floating continent, Lawrence added, the truth might actually be worse and far more insidious.



    Compared to a big mound of trash, for one thing, it's impossible to clean up tons of tiny and widespread specks of plastic. You can't just scoop them up.


    Without a dramatic metaphor expressed in "units Texas," White said, it also becomes more challenging to define the extent of the problem to the public. Even scientists still don't know how deep the plastic goes or how much of it is now sitting on the seafloor.


    Still, small bits of plastic pose a variety of threats to the environment. They often end up inside fish and can work their way up the food chain. And plastics that are exposed to the elements release chemicals as they break down -- all with unknown but worrisome consequences for animals, water quality and human health.


    "There is no reason to have plastic in the marine environment," White said. "But I think we undermine the issue by overstating the results. It's like crying wolf. That's the danger."
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

    Category: EnvironmentNature conservation
    Posted on: March 15, 2010 11:28 AM, by Greg Laden
    I am annoyed with the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.


    I'm annoyed for a lot of reasons that I won't go into now, but mainly for one aspect of this problem: The idea of a mat of solid garbage extending across a portion of the Pacific Ocean that is the size of Europe (or whatever) is startling. It is the kind of thing that attracts attention, brings people to the table to discuss and consider conservation issues, and makes people want to be more aware of the environment, and to do something positive.



    But, when people find out that there is no Pacific Garbage Patch, that they've been lied to by conservationists, by Greanpeace, the UN, and various private entrepreneurs, they get annoyed, walk away from the conservation movement, and become right wing Republicans.(RD: LMAO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)


    That is terribly annoying.



    So, what I'd like to do right now is to put an end to this whole Pacific Garbage Patch idea. There is no Pacific Garbage Patch. Yes, yes, there is a bunch of plastic, in tiny tiny itty bitty bits, floating around in various "gyres" in the world's oceans. That may or may not be a problem. It is being studied. We may learn that there are some issues to deal with here. Or we may learn that this is like the one hundredth or the one thousandth most important thing to deal with regarding the environment.


    I imagine that the plastic affects the transmission of sunlight, which is important. It may change the chemical nature of the upper stratum of water (but unlikely). It is possible that plastic in the food stream may diminish the caloric intake of foraging events enough to matter sometimes for some organisms in some years. The plastic could be a substrate for certain organisms that might otherwise not have a substrate, causing a change in local ecology or even assisting species invasion across vast reaches of ocean. Or, at least, those are the things that come to my mind when I think of tiny pieces of plastic floating around in gyres in the ocean.
    But really we know very little about it. If you want to know more about this issue, check out the Seaplex FAQ page and NOAA's Marine Debris page.


    Let's not allow misinformation about this issue to obscure and override important environmental concerns that are real. If this turns out to be important, we'll be on it. At the moment, it is not at all clear. Much of the information we see out there borders on lies, or is just plain untruthful. The videos you see of the garbage floating around are NOT of the gyres. There are not zillions of plastic bottles and dirty diapers floating around on the surface of the Pacific ocean. The photos you are shown in videos about this isssue are photos of something else, which to me is a very very dishonest way of "framing" the issue. See this post for some discussion on this, including an important comment by Mariam Goldstein, and an example of one of these questionable videos.
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    Super Moderator Malsua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    I always figured it was just a big area where you'd see a bag here or there and other bits of flotsum at a higher interval than normal.

    Now it's not even that.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    I don't think it was ever "anything".

    Another made up Leftist, Bullshit, let's control and ban items thing
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    Well, it _IS_ something. It's just not what they want it to be.

    They're constantly looking for the next crying Indian.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    I really don't think it is anything at all. I've seen a hundred pictures from the region. No plastic floating. No bottles piled on bottles.

    I've not seen ONE picture of the area showing acres or thousands of square miles of floating plastic.

    They are making it up. Just like they made up globullshit warming.
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    Super Moderator Malsua's Avatar
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    But there is plastic floating there in higher concentrations. Whether it's meaningful or not is still unknown.
    "Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the gray twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    Well, this is true.

    I have run into plastic bags out at sea... in the Caribbean two or three times. In the Pacific I ran into them a couple of times as well. Once when we were learning and the next time on our own.... we fished them out pretty much every time if they were close enough and bagged them --- in a plastic bag
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    So I collected a bunch of books the other day and installed them into my computer library. One of them is called "Plastiki". The story of a guy building a catamaran from plastic bottles.

    Essentially the story is that he was "looking for a way to get people to see how much pollution is out there" in the oceans.

    He was skeptical himself when he started. But the premise for his expedition was that there IS a giant garbage patch in the Pacific (and other places). He DID ask the question about "can you see it from space?" - after all if it is "twice the size of the state of Texas" then one ought to be able to see it.

    Apparently no one can see it.

    I've been doing searches on the Internet for images of this so-called plastic patch and to this day can not find any.

    Sure there are images of large patches (on the order of perhaps several feet across) where junk has collected - but I find it amazing that this is being perpetuated as a "fact" when there IS NO PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE and we're supposed to take their word for this.

    I guess, all-in-all this is actually a lie.
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    NOAA believes this exists.

    " width="1102">
    How Big Is the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”? Science vs. Myth

    by Ashley Braun | Leave a comment
    While everything may be bigger in Texas, some reports about the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” would lead you to believe that this marine mass of plastic is bigger than Texas—maybe twice as big as the Lone Star State, or even twice as big as the continental U.S.
    For NOAA, a national science agency, separating science from science fiction about the Pacific garbage patch (and other “garbage patches”) is important when answering people’s questions about what it is and how we should deal with the problem. (For the record, no scientifically sound estimates exist for the size or mass of these garbage patches.)
    Marine debris accumulation locations in the North Pacific Ocean.

    The NOAA Marine Debris Program’s Carey Morishige takes down two myths floating around with the rest of the debris about the garbage patches in a recent post on the Marine Debris Blog:



    1. There is no “garbage patch,” a name which conjures images of a floating landfill in the middle of the ocean, with miles of bobbing plastic bottles and rogue yogurt cups. Morishige explains this misnomer:

    While it’s true that these areas have a higher concentration of plastic than other parts of the ocean, much of the debris found in these areas are small bits of plastic (microplastics) that are suspended throughout the water column. A comparison I like to use is that the debris is more like flecks of pepper floating throughout a bowl of soup, rather than a skim of fat that accumulates (or sits) on the surface.
    She’s not downplaying the significance of microplastics. They are nearly ubiquitous today—degrading into tiny bits from a range of larger plastic items* and now turning up in everything from face scrubs to fleece jackets. Yet their impacts on marine life mostly remain a big unknown.



    1. There are many “garbage patches,” and by that, we mean that trash congregates to various degrees in numerous parts of the Pacific and the rest of the ocean. These natural gathering points appear where rotating currents, winds, and other ocean features converge to accumulate marine debris, as well as plankton, seaweed, and other sea life. (Find out more about these “convergence zones” in the ocean and a NOAA study of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, aka the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” [PDF].)


    Any way you look at these “peppery soups” of plastic in the Pacific, none of the debris should be there. The NOAA Marine Debris website and blog have lots of great information and references if you want to learn more about the garbage patch issue.
    Next up, Morishige digs into how feasible it is to clean up the so-called garbage patches.
    *Updated July 10, 2012
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    Default Re: Pacific Plastic Garbage Patch

    So... I think my conclusion is thus; there IS a lot of plastic in the ocean. There is NO "garbage patch", no "Island of Trash" and there is NO photographic evidence of those things. Yes there is junk out there. Seen it myself in both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea - but in tiny quantities and much of it is apparently invisible because it lies below the surface of the ocean.

    Now, I don't believe in "global warming" any more than I believe in a "floating island of garbage"... .because the planet has a way of fixing itself. Matter of fact if you watch, you will see erosion that happens over a few weeks, months or years, and if you put something into the ocean (especially something made of wood, metal or other natural materials) the materials WILL become "one with the sea" in time.

    It is rare to find old ships that have sank. It's difficult to locate "treasures" under the sea because they become buried or encrusted with sea life. There is a place in Canada - I forget the name of the town right now, near where Leif Erikson landed with a tiny fishing town. At that place they push their old pickup trucks out into the low tide areas when the tide is out, and use chains on the old vehicles to moor boats. They have been doing this for a long time, probably 50 or more years. The vehicles rust out and eventually vanish into the ocean. They have to replace the truck bodies or engines every so often.

    So - there is pollution, but no evidence of a "floating island of junk" and global warming - well, I just don't see the evidence for this either.
    The Myth Of The Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch

    By Ryan Brower
    Tue, Jun 9 2009 3:38 pm | Comments Tweet SHARE: Share on facebook Share on twitter Share on tumblr More Sharing Services


    Russell McLendon brings something important to light here. Amidst the search for the wreckage of the fatal airplane crash of Air France flight 447, authorities thought they were finding pieces of the jet. Upon further investigation though, they determined what they were finding was good ol’ ocean trash, and not parts of the plane. Though this was in the Atlantic, Russell McLendon decided to dig deep into the myth of the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch.
    Do your part – if you see some trash on the beach, pick it up. Don’t just let it sit there only to greet you the next time you’re in the lineup.

    That ‘convergence zone’ is where the patch is believed to be living.
    As reported by Russell McLendon on MNN.com
    The mistake highlighted a worldwide problem: marine debris, most of it plastic, that begins in human hands but ends up in the ocean, often inside animals’ stomachs or around their necks. Reports about these “garbage patches” have been trickling in for years, but they’ve picked up steam recently. While the Air France mix-up took place in the Atlantic — and these nebulous, tangled trash heaps are showing up all around the globe — the poster child for plastic pollution remains the sprawling Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s largest dump.
    The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has sometimes been described as a “trash island,” but that’s a misconception, says Holly Bamford, director of NOAA’s Marine Debris Program. If only things were that simple.
    “We could just go out there and scoop up an island,” Bamford says. “If it was one big mass, it would make our jobs a whole lot easier.”
    Instead, it’s like a galaxy of garbage, populated by billions of smaller trash islands that may be hidden underwater or spread out over many miles. That can make it maddeningly difficult to study — Bamford says we still don’t know how big the garbage patch is, despite the oft-cited claim that it’s as big as Texas.
    “You see these quotes that it’s the size of Texas, then it’s the size of France, and I even heard one description of it as a continent,” she says. “That alone should lend some concern that there’s not consistency in our idea of its size. It’s these hot spots, not one big mass. Maybe if you added them all up it’s the size of Texas, but we still don’t know. It could be bigger than Texas.”
    While there’s still much we don’t understand about the garbage patch, we do know that most of it’s made of plastic.
    Earth has five or six major oceanic gyres — huge spirals of seawater formed by colliding currents — but one of the largest is the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, filling most of the space between Japan and California. The upper part of this gyre, a few hundred miles north of Hawaii, is where warm water from the South Pacific crashes into cooler water from the north. Known as the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone, this is also where the trash collects.
    Bamford refers to the convergence zone as a “trash superhighway” because it ferries plastic rubbish along an elongated, east-west corridor that links two spinning eddies known as the Eastern Garbage Patch and the Western Garbage Patch. The whole system collectively makes up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
    It may take several years for debris to reach this area, depending where it’s coming from. Plastic can be washed from the interiors of continents to the sea via sewers, streams and rivers, or it might simply wash away from the coast. Either way, it can be a six- or seven-year journey before it’s spinning around in the garbage patch. On the other hand, fishing nets and steel containers are often dropped right in with the rest of the trash.
    For the full article, head to MNN.com.
    For more on the Great Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch, head to NOAA’s Marine Debris Program here.
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