Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Like I Said about that Great Pacific Garbage Patch

From Discovery News:

It's been called the Great Garbage Patch and "the most shocking thing" Oprah has ever seen: a massive island of plastic in the Pacific Ocean that, according to many reports, is twice the size of Texas, outnumbers plankton, and has killed millions of sea birds.

But many of those claims, according to a new analysis, are huge exaggerations. Others are downright false.

Plastic is definitely a problem in the oceans, both for animal life and the environment, said Angel White, a microbial oceanographer at Oregon State University in Corvallis. But there are not floating towers of milk jugs, toilet seats and rubber duckies swirling in the middle of the ocean.

Instead, the majority of plastic in the sea consists of confetti-like specks that are spread out widely and nearly impossible to see with the naked eye.


Unknown said...

I'm curious though, who are you arguing against? The popular press seems to accept the point you're making. Wikipedia (the gold standard), says "Moore's claim of having discovered a large, visible debris field is, however, a mischaracterization of the polluted region overall, since it primarily consists of particles that are generally invisible to the naked eye."

John said...

I once had the impression that there was a giant mat of floating trash covering hundreds of square miles of the ocean, an impression I got from reading news articles and looking at the pictures in them. My children got the same impression from television. We were lied to. I always resent that. So, yeah, it's true that now a lot of news outlets have been spreading the truth about this, but belief in vast swathes of trash is still out there.