The Sun is Responsible for Trash in the Ocean
Probably one of the most compelling “arguments” of those who would deny human contributions to global climate change is the fact that the Earth is so huge and complicated, and the atmosphere seems endless. Many people simply can’t believe mere humans could impact something so huge. As a result, those who profit from the way things are, which is most of us, are willing to believe it is something else, something bigger… the sun! The sun heats the earth all the time, we’ve all seen it! Du-huh!
OK, well here’s a little something to think about. We’re doing exactly the same thing to the wide wide oceans that we’ve done to the boundless sky: fill it with oil.
To be specific, we’ve created enormous columns of rotting plastic which stretch from the surface all the way down to the dark bottom of the sea. The pieces vary from quite large, for example mostly styrofoam refrigerators , down literally to the molecular level.
The plastic is concentrated, because of the actions of the world’s water masses, to concentrate in the 5 gyres. The Pacific is the best known to us, since it is between California and Hawaii, but there are four others.
The plastic isn’t confined to them, there is plastic everywhere in the ocean, but in the gyres it is concentrated so we can see it and be horrified and amazed at the power our species has to displace resources, refine them to poisons, and spread them everywhere.
The large pieces are ugly, but not really problematic. It’s the smaller hunks that do real damage, the pieces that end up in the guts of fish, birds and sea mammals.
A whale washed up on a Washington shore with a gut load of trash including a pair of sweat pants, 20 plastic bags, towels, surgical gloves (they look like jellyfish) and duct tape. There is a link to a video here
Worse yet are the smaller pieces that look like plankton and actually become part of the flesh of fish, birds and sea mammals, to the point that in the foreseeable future ocean fish will be too toxic to eat. Many plastics, when they finally do break down from sun, wave action and salt water reveal themselves to be long chain molecules which resemble the hormones which are the chemicals of life.
Bits of Atlantic plastic sea trash, from here
In some places in the sea, the “plastic plankton” meaning bits of broken down plastic, outnumber real plankton six to one. Bird species are dying because parents bring home so much indigestible human trash that the babies literally die of starvation.
A relatively small amount of trash comes ashore, for example in the Hawaiian Islands, where some beaches are becoming choked with feet of trash, and where others are being buried in plastic sand.
This isn’t some “ecofreaky” science which only a judge would believe, this is crap you can go and see yourself. It’s easy to find; the Pacific Gyrus is twice the size of Texas. Even Dan Logue can’t deny we’ve filled the oceans with plastic, which is simply highly refined oil.
Source was lost, sorry!
It isn’t something we can disavow, either. Most of the trash in the sea begins on land; much of it was dumped decades ago but millions of tons more flow in to the sea every day from rivers like the Yuba and Feather. Further, we inlanders benefit greatly from the international shipping which creates a great deal of the “pellet” type plastic waste.
Ultimately, there is no way to clean the oceans, the problem is too big, big as the sky. If all the plastic were netted (impossible) all the fish would be netted, too, and the oil needed to fuel the job would bring our cars to a halt in our driveways.
Given that we’ve filled the wide, wide oceans with oil, is it really so hard to believe we’ve done the same to the boundless sky?
To find out more about the Pacific Gyre go to Google Earth and find coordinates 33 23 25.98 N by 133 32 00.43 W
Learn about all 5 Gyres