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Old 04-05-2009   #1
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Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Hidden, a 3.5 Million Ton Trash Heap Lies in the Ocean

The Great Pacific Garbage Dump Stretches From California to China

The world's largest trash dump doesn't sit on some barren field outside an urban center. It resides thousands of miles from any land — in the Pacific Ocean.

Bottle caps, soap bottles, laundry baskets and shards of plastic are just a few things that float in the ocean's vastness. Known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the "dump" is composed mainly of plastic, which isn't biodegradable.

Instead, the plastic breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces in the patch that extends thousands of miles, from California's coast to China.

Charles Moore, who discovered the trash heap by accident in 1997 when he was sailing the Pacific, collects samples of the growing garbage bin. Some of his samples have contained six times more plastic than plankton.

"It is like a minestrone and ... a lot of the vegetables are plastic," said Moore, who stages regular trips to the garbage patch for research.

A series of currents in the Pacific Ocean create a circular effect that pulls debris from North America, Asia and the Hawaiian Islands into a toxic stew. Then it shoots it into a graveyard of 3.5 million tons of trash that's 80 percent plastic.

Moore said he has noticed an alarming trend. The quantities have increased dramatically — more than doubling in five years. And Moore said there is no reason to believe the trend will slow.

And the plastic isn't just floating around in the ocean; new evidence suggests it is making its way into wildlife.

"I found 26 pieces of plastic, all different colors inside one stomach," said marine researcher Christiana Boerger.

Birds also are making a meal of the plastic, and large quantities have been found in their stomachs.

But the biggest debate surrounding the patch isn't its existence or its environmental impact, but rather how to clean it up.

"The experts say there is no silver bullet. We are going to keep looking, but at the moment it is not clear what the best course of action would be to deal with the materials that are already there," said Steve Russell of the American Chemical Council.

Moore, the patch's discoverer, said it's virtually impossible to clean it up. He said that stopping it from growing may be the best approach, which also may prevent other ocean dumps from forming.
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Old 04-05-2009   #2
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Well, I suppose it is better than it is in one place right?
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Old 04-06-2009   #3
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

It's not exactly in one place, that's just the biggest one getting some attention.

Quote:
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch

The largest garbage dump in the world is roughly twice the size of the continental U.S. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a continent-sized constellation of discarded shoes, bottles, bags, pacifiers, plastic wrappers, toothbrushes and every other type of trash imaginable, floating in the Pacific Ocean about halfway between Hawaii and San Francisco. The ocean's swirling currents have pushed the piles of debris, accumulated detritus of sea vessels and decades of under-the-radar ocean dumping, together in loose configurations just below the water's surface. While nobody knows for sure where it came from or how to clean it up, the sheer size of the Garbage Patch has attracted attention to the world's seldom-discussed renegade waste problem.
I posted something about this and dead zones last year. Most people just want to think of it as another conspiracy theory. A few years ago the big dead zone in Gulf of Mexico was said to be about 4500 square miles, now it's around 7,000.

Quote:
Take, for example, the "dead zone" in the Gulf of Mexico. Fertilizer and pesticide use by farmers in the Midwest and Great Plains states has gradually raised nutrient levels in the Mississippi's muddy waters to levels so high that algal blooms have appeared in the river drainage delta. These algal blooms deplete oxygen levels in the water to the point where it can no longer sustain fish, plants and microscopic species. Ergo, the "dead zone," an area that covers nearly 7,000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico.

Everybody knows chemicals dumped in the wild can cause serious problems, and keeping them stored is not necessarily much safer. For decades, Africa was a major dumping grounds for toxic wastes. Since at least the early 1970s, there have been multiple cases of illicit toxic waste disposal deals between Western companies and African countries.

In 1987, for example, two Italian waste brokers, Gianfranco Raffaeli and Renato Pent, paid a Nigerian businessman, Sunday Nana, about $100 a month to store 18,000 drums of hazardous waste on his property in Nigeria. Nigerian officials discovered a cache of the illegal toxic waste, which contained high levels of PCB and dioxins, stored at the port of Koko. Regardless of how they got there, mountains of obsolete pesticides like DDT, aldrin and chlordane remain stockpiled in poorly maintained storage facilities across much of Africa. Mali and Botswana have reported especially large stockpiles of industrial chemicals discarded as long as 40 years ago.

While some countries address legacy problems like abandoned pesticides, other countries are busy creating new ones for future generations. China and India are no exceptions.
edit added: That last comment doesn't give the U.S. credit where it's due, particularly for all the unregulated waste that stems mostly from rivers, Louisiana and oil spills off the southern gulf coast that ends up in the Gulf of Mexico dead zone.
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Last edited by my.dragons.lady; 04-06-2009 at 02:52 AM. Reason: typo; edit added
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Old 04-06-2009   #4
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Quote:
Originally Said by my.dragons.lady View Post
It's not exactly in one place, that's just the biggest one getting some attention.
I meant that it is primarily in one place, rather than strewn all about the ocean floor. I know how ocean currents work; they are, after all, the very thing that cleans the Earth (seriously, it takes millions of years but eventually water currents will move a chunk of a mountain millions of miles from the ocean to the bottom of it where it may then eventually spew forth from a volcanic eruption and thus continue the cycle).

What I meant was, at least, if we are to ever clean them up, these "garbage lanes" are located in one place, forced their by the currents, and are therefore predictable locations if one knows the paths of water currents.

I imagine there is still trash building up elsewhere but I think it's better than the currents take it to locations that can be found and, with the right technology, cleaned up, rather than allow it to just exist all over the oceans.

You catch my drift? (Pun intended.)
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Old 04-06-2009   #5
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

i wonder if we could melt all that plastic down, dump into the ocean and create some new land. what else we gonna do with it? lets put it to work
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Old 04-06-2009   #6
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

^ The world's largest plastic jesus could be in the making.
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Old 04-06-2009   #7
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Quote:
Originally Said by psychoDiablo View Post
i wonder if we could melt all that plastic down, dump into the ocean and create some new land. what else we gonna do with it? lets put it to work
Ripley's Believe It or Not had an episode with a guy who'd made a home on an "island" he'd made from recycled materials. I think he even had plants or grass or something growing.
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Old 03-28-2011   #8
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Check out this hilariously satirical commercial!
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Old 03-28-2011   #9
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

you manky bastards. Just letting it sit there, do what we do in the north sea: pump out so much toxic chemicals and other shit that rubbish just melts!
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Old 03-28-2011   #10
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

hmmm people at the grocery store always look so confused when i tell them i don't want a bag, no matter what i am buying. I don't even want a paper bag.... they act like i am from another planet. some times i freak out at them and start shouting things like "it's for the fucking sea turttles, okay!? I am just a consious person, you shuold be so forward thinking you matierial slave!"
*sigh*
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Old 07-10-2011   #11
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

fuck yeah more WoW gold. hook me up fat!
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Old 07-10-2011   #12
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Damn bot posting in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch thread. So disrespectful to...marine life
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Old 07-10-2011   #13
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Re: Great Pacific Garbage Patch

that's where you find the rare WoW gold, where the 10 piece is worth 20!
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To chill is to be chillin.
Chillin is cooperating with your surroundings, unknowing'st of what everything is capable of; and all the while, as it happens and after, to accept without any thought of good or bad, but mainly, just enjoying rather deeply, the moment you had to sit and think. (Not thinking.)

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