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.

7 comments:

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Anna, I would love to have a sample for demonstration purposes. I just completed a "Rethinking Plastics" training through Green Sangha and am now able to present their Power Point presentation for groups, which also includes showing part of Synthetic Sea and discussing the gyre. It would be really effective for me and others in the group to have some kind of tangible objects to show. What can we work out? Please feel free to e-mail me directly beth[at]fakeplasticfish[dot]com.

Burbanmom said...

OMG Anna! What an AWESOME opportunity! I hope you will take lots and lots of pictures and post them all! I followed Captain Moore's adventure on Ship 2 Shore earlier this year and was hoping he'd be heading out again soon.

Best of luck!

Cindy said...

Wow. This is so awesome. I have been following the whole "garbage patch" phenomenon ever since I read it in Altered Ocean (LA Times) last year. I can't believe you are going on Captain Moore's ship. Are you mentally preparing for the visual? I would not be able to wrap my head around it. Best of luck. Love to hear everything you see and hear.

Anna said...

Thanks for all the support, ladies!
Beth, would love to get you a sample, tried to email you but got sent back.....give me a shout!

And to Cindy and Burbanmom, mil gracias, I will for sure be taking tons of photos, and will share all the gruesome details with you all.

Happy holidays!
Anna

Miriam Goldstein said...

Is anyone looking at the types of encrusting invertebrates found on the debris? I'd be especially interested in the tunicates.

Enjoy the cruise! I have no doubt it will be...enlightening.

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Sandra said...

Unreal...makes me feel even better about bringing my own bags & chasing down plastic bags in the wind :)