Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ocean garbage dump

As Earth Day draws to a close, here's another big human-caused mess to ponder...

In August 1997, Captain Charles Moore was returning to California after competing in a sailing race in Hawaii. He and the crew of his 50-foot catamaran decided to head home through a becalmed area of the ocean called the North Pacific subtropical gyre. It began with a line of plastic bags ghosting the surface, followed by an ugly tangle of junk: nets and ropes and bottles, motor-oil jugs and cracked bath toys, a mangled tarp. Tires. A traffic cone. Moore could not believe his eyes. Out here in this desolate place, the water was a stew of plastic crap. It was as though someone had taken the pristine seascape of his youth and swapped it for a landfill. They sailed for a week before they were past the accumulation of debris. Moore had discovered what is now known as the "Eastern Garbage Patch" or the "Great Pacific Garbage Dump" - estimated to be twice the size of Texas - and has since made it his mission to get the word out.

The garbage, much of it plastic, threatens marine life directly by choking and starving animals mistaking it for food. But as it degrades and disintegrates down to the molecular level, it is ingested by marine organisms and enters the food chain. This pollution is disrupting the balance of the ocean and of our own bodies...

Reduce, reuse, recycle! :-)

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