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[GreenYes] Re: More on the Pacific Plastic Gyre from H2E

Title: Re: More on the Pacific Plastic Gyre from H2E
More on the Pacific Ocean Plastics Gyre. Check out the following. Sorry for Cross-Postings

Floating dump 'bigger than US'

From: AAP
February 03, 2008
It has been described as the world's largest rubbish dump, or the Pacific plastic soup, and it is starting to alarm scientists. It is a vast area of floating plastic debris.

It is a vast area of plastic debris and other flotsam drifting in the northern Pacific Ocean, held there by swirling ocean currents.

Discovered in 1997 by American sailor Charles Moore, what is also called the great Pacific garbage patch is now alarming some with its ever-growing size and possible impact on human health.

Click here to read the full article on the website <,23739,23157068-952,00.html>

David Biddle, Executive Director
Greater Philadelphia Commercial Recycling Council
P.O. Box 4037
Philadelphia, PA 19118

215-247-3090 (desk)
215-432-8225 (cell)

on 2/11/08 3:18 PM, Pete Pasterz at PAPasterz@no.address wrote:

To: H2E - Hospitals for a Healthy Environment - Info Exchange Listserv
Subject: [h2e] Floating "land"fill? article - fyi PLASTICS!

H2E - Info Exchange Listserve

The World's Dump: Ocean Garbage from Hawaii to  Japan

By Kathy Marks and Daniel Howden, The  Independent UK
Posted on February 6, 2008, Printed on February 6,  2008
http://www.alternet .org/story/  76056/

A  "plastic soup" of waste floating in the Pacific Ocean is growing at an  alarming rate and now covers an area twice the size of the continental United  States, scientists have said.

The  vast expanse of debris -- in effect the world's largest rubbish dump -- is  held in place by swirling underwater currents. This drifting "soup" stretches  from about 500 nautical miles off the Californian coast, across the northern  Pacific, past Hawaii and almost as far as Japan.

Charles  Moore, an American oceanographer who discovered the "Great Pacific Garbage  Patch" or "trash vortex", believes that about 100 million tons of flotsam are  circulating in the region. Marcus Eriksen, a research director of the US-based  Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which Mr Moore founded, said yesterday:  "The original idea that people had was that it was an island of plastic  garbage that you could almost walk on. It is not quite like that. It is almost  like a plastic soup. It is endless for an area that is maybe twice the size as  continental United States."

Curtis  Ebbesmeyer, an oceanographer and leading authority on flotsam, has tracked the  build-up of plastics in the seas for more than 15 years and compares the trash  vortex to a living entity: "It moves around like a big animal without a  leash." When that animal comes close to land, as it does at the Hawaiian  archipelago, the results are dramatic. "The garbage patch barfs, and you get a  beach covered with this confetti of plastic," he added.

The  "soup" is actually two linked areas, either side of the islands of Hawaii,  known as the Western and Eastern Pacific Garbage Patches. About one-fifth of  the junk -- which includes everything from footballs and kayaks to Lego blocks  and carrier bags -- is thrown off ships or oil platforms. The rest comes from  land.

Mr  Moore, a former sailor, came across the sea of waste by chance in 1997, while  taking a short cut home from a Los Angeles to  Hawaii yacht race. He had steered his craft into the "North Pacific gyre" -- a  vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme  high pressure systems. Usually sailors avoid it.

He  was astonished to find himself surrounded by rubbish, day after day, thousands  of miles from land. "Every time I came on deck, there was trash floating by,"  he said in an interview. "How could we have fouled such a huge area? How could  this go on for a week?"

Mr  Moore, the heir to a family fortune from the oil industry, subsequently sold  his business interests and became an environmental activist. He warned  yesterday that unless consumers cut back on their use of disposable plastics,  the plastic stew would double in size over the next  decade.

Professor  David Karl, an oceanographer at the University of  Hawaii, said more research was needed to establish the size and nature  of the plastic soup but that there was "no reason to doubt" Algalita's  findings.

"After  all, the plastic trash is going somewhere and it is about time we get a full  accounting of the distribution of plastic in the marine ecosystem and  especially its fate and impact on marine ecosystems."

Professor  Karl is co-ordinating an expedition with Algalita in search of the garbage  patch later this year and believes the expanse of junk actually represents a  new habitat. Historically, rubbish that ends up in oceanic gyres has  biodegraded. But modern plastics are so durable that objects half-a-century  old have been found in the north Pacific dump. "Every little piece of plastic  manufactured in the past 50 years that made it into the ocean is still out  there somewhere," said Tony Andrady, a chemist with the US-based Research  Triangle Institute.

Mr  Moore said that because the sea of rubbish is translucent and lies just below  the water's surface, it is not detectable in satellite photographs. "You only  see it from the bows of ships," he said.

According  to the UN Environment Programme, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than  a million seabirds every year, as well as more than 100,000 marine mammals.  Syringes, cigarette lighters and toothbrushes have been found inside the  stomachs of dead seabirds, which mistake them for food.

Plastic  is believed to constitute 90 per cent of all rubbish floating in the oceans.  The UN Environment Programme estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean  contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic,

Dr  Eriksen said the slowly rotating mass of rubbish-laden water poses a risk to  human health, too. Hundreds of millions of tiny plastic pellets, or nurdles --  the raw materials for the plastic industry -- are lost or spilled every year,  working their way into the sea. These pollutants act as chemical sponges  attracting man-made chemicals such as hydrocarbons and the pesticide DDT. They  then enter the food chain. "What goes into the ocean goes into these animals  and onto your dinner plate. It's that simple," said Dr Eriksen.  
© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights  reserved.
View this story online at: http://www.alternet .org/story/  76056/

Janet  Brown
Partner Program  Manager
Hospitals for a  Healthy Environment
PO Box  3366
Amherst, MA  01004
Janet is on the  steering committee of the Green Guide for Health Care.  
E-mail correspondence to and from this address may be subject to the North Carolina Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.

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