Have you heard the latest news out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? The word on the pollution (it's growing) and impact on wildlife (it's poisoning them) is not good. But a silver lining is that budding environmental reporter Lindsey Hoshaw completed her impressive fact-finding mission, in part supported by the groundbreaking crowd-sourced site Spot.Us. I was one of a long list of readers who chipped in (perhaps some URTH Guy readers did as well).
Hoshaw's reportage is presented in the New York Times, with a slideshow of some starting -- and beautifully produced -- photographs of all the junk that's floating out beyond the borders of any nation. The images are intimate and professional, and give us a rare glimpse into something that can otherwise seem quite distant and abstract (it's hard to think of anything twice the size of Texas!)
Here are some of Hoshaw's findings:
--Plastic is the most common refuse in the patch because it is lightweight, durable and ubiquitous. It can float for thousands of miles and get stuck in giant gyres.
--PCBs, DDT and other toxins cannot dissolve in water, but get absorbed by plastic. Fish that feed on plankton ingest the tiny toxic bits, and toxins get bioaccumulated up the food chain.
--Hoshaw traveled with Charles Moore, who discovered The Great Pacific Garbage Patch 12 years ago while sailing.
--Many believe there are more giant garbage patches, perhaps off Japan and in the Sargasso Sea.
--Crew members said plastic was so pervasive in the gyre that it seemed no patch of water was unaffected.
--Project Kaisei in San Francisco is working on ways to clean up the patch by turning the waste plastic into diesel fuel.
--Water samples from February contained twice as much plastic as samples Moore collected a decade ago.Go support some more stories on Spot.Us!
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