Death By Plastic – A Real Tearjerker

Yesterday, my friend shared a 4 minute video with me.  I was stunned.  About three years ago he brought “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch” to my attention, which he’s been monitoring for some time now.  Ever heard of it?  I’ll wager very few are aware of this man-made island of floating garbage.

I did some research and learned that this massive glob was predicted in 1988 and published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), based on measurements taken of neustonic plastic in the North Pacific Ocean.  The Garbage Patch is located within the North Pacific Gyre, one of the five major oceanic gyres.

North_Pacific_Gyre_World_Map

Researchers predict that this accumulation of man-made waste, primarily plastic, will make its way to other parts of the Pacific where prevailing currents are favorable.  As the garbage is captured in the currents, wind-driven surface currents gradually move floating debris toward the center, trapping it in the region.  Most of the debris consists of small plastic particles suspended at or just below the surface, but larger pieces of plastic are trapped within the smaller particles.

Just how big is this floating island of lethal waste?  It’s difficult to know at this point.  Some reports estimate it to be up to twice the size of the continental United States, while research sponsored by the National Science Foundation suggests the affected area may be around twice the size of Hawaii. Regardless as to which reports provided the closet estimates, it’s had a devastating effect on wildlife.

garbage patchLong-lasting plastics end up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals, and their young, including sea turtles and the Black-footed Albatross.  Midway Atoll receives substantial amounts of marine debris from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Of the 1.5 million Laysan Albatrosses that inhabit Midway, nearly all are found to have plastic in their digestive system.    Approximately one-third of the chicks die mostly due to being fed plastic from their parents.  Source

Research shows that this plastic marine debris affects at least 267 species worldwide, which brings me to the video.  It features Midway Atoll, a cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent.

“Until my ghastly tale is told, this heart within me burns.” ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge

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11 thoughts on “Death By Plastic – A Real Tearjerker

  1. In response to a similar article I had commented:
    “It is not easy not to throw trash because if we don’t it will be accumulated. But it is far more easy not to generate trash. I always thought that the invent of disposable camera was the most greedy and least needed invention and product. We must try everyday to use less and less disposable products but it is happening otherwise. Everywhere.”
    It is equaly apt here.

  2. Yes, I couldn’t agree more about using less disposable products. We have become a throw-a-way society, fueled by capitalism and consumerism. I don’t know if you have ever see the video “The Story of Stuff”, but I can’t recommend it enough. Very, very eye opening.

    Abstract:
    “From its extraction through sale, use and disposal, all the stuff in our lives affects communities at home and abroad, yet most of this is hidden from view. The Story of Stuff is a 20-minute, fast-paced, fact-filled look at the underside of our production and consumption patterns. The Story of Stuff exposes the connections between a huge number of environmental and social issues, and calls us together to create a more sustainable and just world.” http://youtu.be/9GorqroigqM

  3. I finally watched the video. Ugh. Yet another reason to recycle. I wish we could find a realistic alternative to plastic.

  4. The throwaway culture is certainly a serious problem, and one that must be turned around. But let us never forget the root cause of many of our worst problems, one that almost nobody is even talking about, and that even fewer seem to be willing to do anything useful about: overpopulation.

    If there were only say half a billion of us — instead of more than seven billion — most of our worst problems, including this one, would not exist. Yet our young people just keep on making babies, and their elders keep on encouraging them to. “When are you going to present me with another beautiful grandchild?” Sound familiar?

  5. I read about this man-made floating island of garbage several years ago. Sad as hell. Plastics, which are made from petroleum, are harmful in so many ways–in their creation, distribution and disposal. The sad thing is that you can’t get people on board to make changes–it has to be done through policy, either banning or taxing….

  6. Great article and so true. If only people would realise how much harm they are causing nature and her animals. A few weeks ago we rescued a duck from a fishing line. Some people just don’t think.

  7. Awareness turns to sadness, which turns into shame (as a human member of our precious planet), which in turn turns to ACTION! I must stop — at the very least cut way down — on buying or accepting SO MUCH DAMN PLASTIC in my life!!! *vomit* :/

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