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The Great Pacific Garbage Patch: We Are Literally Filling Up The Pacific Ocean With Plastic

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Great Pacific Garbage Patch - Public DomainWe are starting to see that there are very serious consequences for filling up our oceans with massive amounts of plastic that never biodegrades.  In fact, this is one of the greatest environmental disasters of all time and yet you rarely hear it talked about.  Virtually every molecule of plastic ever created still exists somewhere, and we all use things made out of plastic every single day.  But have you ever stopped to think about what happens to all of that plastic?  Well, the truth is that a lot of it ends up in our oceans.  In fact, humanity produces approximately 200 billion pounds of plastic every year, and about 10 percent of that total ends up in our oceans.  In other words, we are slowly but steadily filling up our oceans with our garbage.  In the North Pacific Ocean, there is a vast area where so much plastic has collected that it has become known as “the Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and as “the Pacific Trash Vortex”.  This “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” stretches from Hawaii to Japan, and it has been estimated to be larger than the entire continental United States.  It contains more than 100 million tons of plastic, and every single year it gets even larger.

When people hear the term “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, they expect to find millions of plastic bottles floating around out there.  But that is not what we are dealing with.  You see, when plastic gets into the ocean it never biodegrades, but it does photodegrade.  So what we end up with is a “plastic soup” of billions upon billions of microscopic pieces of plastic.  Some are approximately the size of your pinkie fingernail, but most of the pieces are much smaller.

For much more on the basics of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, check out the short YouTube video posted below…

Even though all sorts of different kinds of garbage get into our oceans, plastic is of particular concern.

Yes, it breaks down into smaller components, but it never goes away.  So the plastic bottle that you toss overboard today will still be there in some form a hundred years from now.  And this creates some major league problems

The main problem with plastic — besides there being so much of it — is that it doesn’t biodegrade. No natural process can break it down. (Experts point out ­that the durability that makes plastic so useful to humans also makes it quite harmful to nature.) Instead, plastic photodegrades. A plastic cigarette lighter cast out to sea will fragment into smaller and smaller pieces of plastic without breaking into simpler compounds, which scientists estimate could take hundreds of years. The small bits of plastic produced by photodegradation are called mermaid tears or nurdles.

Perhaps the biggest danger that all of this plastic poses is to our food chain.

According to Captain Charles Moore, plastic is found in a significant percentage of the fish that his team catches

“35 percent of the fish that we caught out there had an average of two pieces of plastic in their stomach.”

But fish are only part of the story.  Just check out the following excerpt from an excellent Wikipedia article

Some of these long-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 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 their chicks die, and many of those deaths are due to being fed plastic from their parents. Twenty tons of plastic debris washes up on Midway every year with five tons of that debris being fed to Albatross chicks.

That is just tragic.

But what we are witnessing now is just the beginning.  The plastic soup in our oceans is starting to block sunlight from reaching the algae and plankton that form the very base of the food chain.

And that could rapidly become an absolutely massive crisis.

If we start wiping out the algae and the plankton, that could cause a chain reaction up and down the marine food chain.  The following is how National Geographic describes what we could be facing…

If algae and plankton communities are threatened, the entire food web may change. Animals such as fish and turtles that feed on algae and plankton will have less food. If those animals start to die, there will be less food for predator species such as tuna, sharks, and whales.

In turn, that could ultimately mean a lot less food out of the oceans for humanity.

And already, vast portions of the Pacific Ocean appear to be “dying”.  In a previous article, I included a quote from a very experienced Australian adventurer in which he stated that he felt as though “the ocean itself was dead” as he journeyed from Japan to San Francisco recently…

The next leg of the long voyage was from Osaka to San Francisco and for most of that trip the desolation was tinged with nauseous horror and a degree of fear.

“After we left Japan, it felt as if the ocean itself was dead,” Macfadyen said.

We hardly saw any living things. We saw one whale, sort of rolling helplessly on the surface with what looked like a big tumour on its head. It was pretty sickening.

I’ve done a lot of miles on the ocean in my life and I’m used to seeing turtles, dolphins, sharks and big flurries of feeding birds. But this time, for 3000 nautical miles there was nothing alive to be seen.

In place of the missing life was garbage in astounding volumes.

“Part of it was the aftermath of the tsunami that hit Japan a couple of years ago. The wave came in over the land, picked up an unbelievable load of stuff and carried it out to sea. And it’s still out there, everywhere you look.”

What in the world would cause vast areas of the Pacific Ocean to appear to be “dead”?

In addition to all of the plastic in the ocean, it is also certainly possible that the Fukushima nuclear disaster is playing a huge role in the enormous changes that we have been witnessing in the Pacific.  For much more on that, please see my previous article entitled “Japan Begins Purposely Dumping 100s Of Tons Of Radioactive Water From Fukushima Into The Pacific“.

In any event, it is undeniable that conditions in the Pacific Ocean are getting worse with each passing year.

And every single day more garbage, more plastic and more radioactive water from Fukushima gets added to the mix.

If future generations get the chance, they will probably look back on us as “the crazy plastic people”.  Nearly everything that we buy comes wrapped or contained in this substance that we know won’t biodegrade.  But we keep dumping hundreds of billions of pounds of it into our landfills and into our oceans without ever considering the consequences.

There is no way that we are ever going to be able to clean up the “plastic soup” that we have created in the Pacific Ocean.  But it would be nice if we would stop making it worse every single day.

Sadly, very few people seem interested in doing anything about this very preventable crisis.

  • DJohn1

    Sounds to me that we need to switch back to paper bags in our grocery stores.
    We probably need to design ships that will eat the plastic, melt it, then mold it into bars. Then restore the plastic for use in various industrial applications such as 3-d printing of parts. The question is would such ships be a paying proposition or would it be one more losing industry.
    Or nature will make it impossible for everyone to breathe.

    • TruthIsAll

      I’m just waiting for some lovecraftian ancient deep-sea horror to rise
      up and start destroying humanity because it’s miffed at such reckless
      disregard for such an important resource. It really does make you wonder
      how the future generations will see us considering that in so little
      time have we created so many waste products in our consumerist societies
      that will plague humanity and the Earth for centuries at the least. Growing pains or death throes? Hopefully not the latter.

    • Cynical Guy 42

      That’s an interesting idea. If the plastic could be extracted and re-used, that would probably help reduce the garbage in the sea.

      • DJohn1

        From what I understand there is a shallow floating island of plastic the size of Texas in the South Pacific where the currents come together. I am no engineer and it would take one to make my idea work.
        However the big problem I see is tangling the props into the island. So any attempt to do this will require engines that use jets instead of props.
        It will require absorbing the island into the ship in some kind of melting factory to extract it from the water.
        Getting the extracted plastic back to the mainland might be a problem. I have no idea how heavy the extracted plastic might be.

    • Undecider

      Good ideas like that will never be done. Unless, the NWO can profit from it.

    • kfilly

      The sad part is you can’t get people to acknowledge they are slaves to private banks. How are you going to inspire them to clean the ocean? People are just lazy, apathetic, and dumb.

  • Rodster

    As far back as the 70’s I remember hearing that the NYC was dumping it’s garbage in the Ocean. In fact Govt’s pay other Govt’s to take their garbage. Out of sight out of mind.

    All those floating pieces of debris the searches thought were from the missing Malaysian airliner turns out that it was floating garbage. Just think of all the future Fukishima’s that are waiting to happen. No mention of all those highly radioactive spent fuel rods and what they do with them.

    This is why I am of the belief that in time we will wipe ourselves off this planet.

  • K

    Yes the loss of food will we suffer if the pacific dies, is very bad. That is not the biggest problem. If the pacific dies, it is going to get very hard to breathe. We risk the health of all mankind, so a few can become wealthy. As long as the majority would rather be wealthy, than be decent. Nothing will change. Greed destroys everything it touches.

    • Undecider

      We’ll be dead long before the Pacific. That should be within a couple decades?

    • seth datta

      Bury the bankers. That will sort out all the world’s problems.

  • Undecider

    Not to mention the BPA will turn the sea life homosexual. There goes their reproduction cycles.

    • Iggy

      Now thats funny LOL!!!! Looking forward to the all you can eat lbgt snow crab ROFL

  • Kristen Marie Embler

    All these years of irresponsibility and apathy are catching up to us. People don’t care about things until something major happens, when it’s too late to be reversed.

  • Cynical Guy 42

    I think environmentalists should focus more on this issue. While environmentalism does go too far at times, this is a serious problem that needs to be resolved.

    • MichaelfromTheEconomicCollapse

      Yes, environmentalists often focus on issues that are not very important at all while neglecting the truly huge problems.

  • With Fortitude

    The armed services dump tons of plastics and medical waste in the ocean every year, and have been doing so for a long time!
    Don’t get me wrong I love the military, but this will never stop and needs to.

  • piccadillybabe

    Since so many manufacturing jobs have disappeared, it’s time we create new jobs and the “PGP Cleanup Corps” could create thousands of jobs. I am surprised there is nothing being done on that end already.
    Plastic is a great recycling material and there is lots of money to be made in waste management.

    • K2

      They should, but it wont happen.

      The money that needs to be spent to go to the middle of the pacific and bring all that back, will be more that what they will earn by recycling them.

      Sad but true.

  • joetentpeg

    We got a bigger problem.

    Bad news.

    In about 5 billion years, the sun will turn into a ‘red giant’ and boil off the pacific ocean- to include the plastic.

    Good news.

    We got 5 billion years to find a new home.

    • iggy

      Humanity will kill itself off long before that happens .

  • Firstgarden

    “Plastic people!
    Oh, baby, now you’re such a drag.”
    – Frank Zappa

  • Iggy

    Two words Soylent Green.

  • Jeff

    World pollution is real and the promotion of global warming is just big business. There are a ka-zillion more toxins we are putting out into planet there are extremely more important than just one CO2. Clean fresh drinking water will go away as the world gets warmer and the population grows. The Earth is going through a magnetic polar flip this can affect the weather and life on planet Earth. Fiat currency is a changing manipulated value controlled by a few to better the rich and enslave the rest of us. I do not believe human invented religion, but I do believe in our dear Lord, our savior Jesus and the Holy Ghost. I believe every moment of every day is an opportunity given by our dear Lord and today is a bless day and every day is a good day to die acting like a Christian with love, caring, sacrifice and forgiveness. Life your life grateful!

  • derrick disgruntled

    I have never seen an actual picture of this plastic wonderland. Can anyone give me a link? I wouldn’t put it past the environmentalist, those who polarize and politicize the dialogue to invent it.

  • dontdoitagain

    Better talk to that New York guy who wants people to drink smaller sodas. The solution is simply to buy 2 sodas and double the number of plastic containers it takes to drink the same amount. Sooo in order to save fat soda drinkers from getting their soda in one gulp, now we get to pollute the oceans? I have heard about these plastic islands or whatever for a long time. Where are the photos that can be verified? I think the plastic monster might be yet another trumped up scary thing to force people into submission.

  • Miyamoto

    As the previous poster stated, you have more than just food to worry about. The oceans provide the majority of the oxygen from the algae and phytoplankton (this co-relates to the fact that there is more water than land on our planet) about 75-79%. This coupled with the numerous outlets of pollution and straight disregard for life in general, has the world globally in a state, critical. We must all begin to stand as one together to turn things around. If not now, no one will for our future generations. Really think of how you would feel of your children and your children’s children living in a world poisonous and slavish.

    I’d rather the opposite. We only have each other and our Mother who provides. If we lose Mother(continue being apathetic, selfish, ignorant etc), there won’t be a world to live in anymore.

  • banana breath

    I can’t imagine the garbage pile being large enough to block sunlight to the point of effecting ocean life, yet the clouds themselves are not a problem.

  • Charles_Higley

    The Pacific Gyre Garbage Patch is a fantasy. It does not exist nor is there a garbage patch at the other gyres. Oceanographic ships crisscross the Pacific gyre every two years and seine for plastics. Over the last 20 years, the amount of plastic has been decreasing logarithmically, fast approaching zero. Countries have learned not to dump into the oceans and ships are now proscribed from dumping at sea.

    False descriptions of a Garbage Patch are nothing but propaganda for those who do not check the fact, or do not know to check the facts, or do not know how to check the facts.

    The most recent trawls for plastic in the Pacific gyre had to be for much longer times than usual in order to catch enough pieces of plastic to do a statistical analysis.

    An island in the region of the gyre indeed has plastic particles in its sand, indicating that the plastic is breaking down. The assumption that plastics will never break down is just stupid. Natural processes and adapting bacteria and fungi are learning how to break them down.

    When formica was first invented and became popular, the prediction was that the world would eventually be neck deep in refuse formica. However, not very many years later fungi had learned how to eat formica, causing problems as it was being eaten while still in use.