The Shocking Story Of The Pacific Garbage Patch - Off-Grid

The Shocking Story Of The Pacific Garbage Patch

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The Shocking Story Of The Pacific Garbage PatchPhoto – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wgWyepFdoc0

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a collection of mostly plastic marine debris located in the North Pacific Ocean. A documentary entitled “Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” offered a lot of haunting insights on where all the plastic we consume really goes. An alarming amount of it pollutes our oceans and harms nearby marine wildlife.



Plastic takes around 450 years to degrade on average. [1] Some plastic bottles even take up to 1,000 years. We have become very dependent on plastic. It is durable, relatively low cost, and easy to mold.

Every year, our production and consumption of these synthetic products continue to increase. While there have been some efforts to recycle the plastic, most of it ends up in our landfills. But there is something even more disturbing than plastic in our garbage dumping grounds: garbage patches in our water.



While plastic is relatively strong, it tends to break down into small particles over time. The small particles of plastic found in our oceans make up these garbage patches. Note that these are not solid islands – the Pacific Garbage Patch is like a soup of plastic debris floating around in the ocean. [2] The plastic particles are carried by ocean gyres which keep the garbage islands together while moving around our oceans.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

There are five major ocean gyres. An ocean gyre is a large system of circulating ocean currents involved with large wind movements. [3] These include the Indian Ocean Gyre, the North Atlantic Gyre, the North Pacific Gyre, the South Atlantic Gyre, and the South Pacific Gyre.



Within the five gyres, there are three major garbage patches aka. trash vortices: Indian Ocean Garbage Patch, North Atlantic Garbage Patch, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. A smaller garbage patch is also found in the Mediterranean Sea, known as the Mediterranean Sea Garbage Patch. Charles Moore – sea captain, surfer, and scientific researcher – discovered the trash vortex in 1997. [4] He believes that these garbage patches will likely double in size in the next ten years. How bad will it have to get before we step up and take massive action? We are all responsible.

The documentary focuses mainly on the Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch. The trash vortex spans waters from the West Coast of North America all the way to Japan. The plastic and waste found within the North Pacific Gyre alone weighed approximately 7 million tons. It is said to span an area twice the size of Texas. [3]

No one knows exactly how much debris makes up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. It is too large for scientists to measure and not all of the trash can be found on the surface. However, it is apparent that most of the debris is made up of plastic. Over time, the sun breaks down these plastics into tinier pieces through photodegradation. These small pieces of plastic are known as microplastics. [5] Denser debris sinks several centimeters or even meters beneath the surface, making it very difficult to measure the trash vortex’s area fully.

Check out this documentary film for more info – Plastic Paradise: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

References:

[1] http://www.postconsumers.com/education/how-long-does-it-take-a-plastic-bottle-to-biodegrade/

[2] http://garbagepatch.net/greatpacificoceangarbagepatchfacts/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_gyre

[4] http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/charles_moore/

[5] http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/


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