The world’s largest collection of ocean garbage is twice the size of Texas! Say what?!
This giant island of plastic floating in the Pacific Ocean holds as much as 16 times more debris than was previously thought, posing a significant threat to the food chain, according to an international team of scientists. And the world’s largest collection of ocean garbage is growing.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a collection of plastic and floating trash, is halfway between Hawaii and California, and has grown to more than 600,000 square miles, a study published Thursday found. That’s twice the size of Texas!
Winds and converging ocean currents funnel the garbage into a central location, said study lead author Laurent Lebreton of the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, a non-profit organization that spearheaded the research.
First discovered in the early 1990s, the trash in the patch comes from around the Pacific Rim, including nations in Asia and North and South America, Lebreton said.
Using satellite imagery, and our knowledge of ocean currents, it should not be too difficult to determine who is dumping all of this garbage into the ocean.
I would imagine that one of the biggest ocean dumpers is Japan, since land is such a premium there, and they produce massive amounts of waste. After them, I’m not sure who else would be guilty of all of this pollution, but I’m sure Japan is not alone.
The patch is not a solid mass of plastic. It includes about 1.8 trillion pieces and weighs 88,000 tons, the equivalent of 500 jumbo jets.
The study was based on a three-year mapping effort by an international team of scientists affiliated with the Ocean Cleanup Foundation, six universities and an aerial sensor company.
Sadly, the Pacific patch isn’t alone.
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is the largest of FIVE such trash collections in the oceans, Lebreton said.
There is basically a huge garbage patch in the middle of the North Pacific, the South Pacific, the North Atlantic, and the South Atlantic.
No governments have stepped up to clean the trash, which is in international waters, so it’s been up to privately funded groups such as the Ocean Cleanup Foundation to take the lead in getting rid of the garbage.
But I don’t think this should be left up to privately funded groups. This problem should be addressed by The United Nations. Whomever is causing this gigantic problem needs to be held accountable before this situation gets way out of hand, if it isn’t already. I mean, how big does this garbage patch need to get? Three times the size of Texas? Four times the size of Texas? As big as The United States? How big is too big? I would argue it is way too ridiculously big already.
There’s a sense of urgency, said Joost Dubois, a spokesman with the foundation. (That’s nice to know.)
“It’s a ticking time bomb of larger material,” Dubois said. “We’ve got to get it before it breaks down into a size that’s too small to collect and also dangerous for marine life.”
Since plastic has been around only since the 1950s, there’s no way of knowing exactly how long it will last in the ocean. If left alone, the plastic could remain there for decades, centuries or even longer.
“Unless we begin to remove it, some would say it may remain there forever,” Lebreton said.
Ya, it may even outlast the Human Race!
Some information taken from an article by Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, March 22, 2018.