Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Texas sized garbage patch: mythbusting
So it's time to set the record straight, or at least qualify a bit. I myself have been tossing the "Texas sized garbage patch" image about carelessly, something we well-intentioned environmensters do from time to time.....
There is certainly a GANG of plastic waste floating around in the Pacific, especially concentrated in the North Pacific Gyre. Its a huge problem.
However, its not quite nicely shaped together in a patch "now twice the size of Texas". Rather, its spread out over a massive area, more like a big plastic soup than a patch per se. Even referred to it as Plastic Soup a while back. "Patch" conjures up the notion of something solid, Trash Island, somewhere the hard core eco-travelers might consider vacationing.....
The map above gives an idea of the scope - HUGE area. If the waste were all contained in a nice neat pile, might be easier to consider a cleanup.....
Its just such an irresistible image, the "Texas sized" analogy. And visuals so help us to wrap our head around concepts that seem abstract or "out there", like many ecological issues.
Another way to make this issue tangible, is bringing the gyre back. I mean literally.
I'm headed there for a month in January/February, sailing from Hawaii to the Gyre with The Algalita Marine Reseach Foundation to do some more research on plastic marine debris.
We'll be bringing back actual samples, like the one you see Captain Moore holding below. If you want your own personal sample, for educational or personal enlightenment purposes, give a call, perhaps we can work something out.
Posted by Anna at 2:10 PM