Video: Bad News and Trash Prevade Pacific Gyre
In this video, Mother Jones interviews scientists from the recently returned Project Karsei, a ship sent out to explore ways of cleaning up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the twice-the-size-of-Texas-gyre in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where much of the world's plastic garbage collects. If you were waiting for good news from the field, you might not want to watch the video. The first portion of the video interviews crew members of the Karsei about what they found. When asked what the most surprising finding from the expedition was, investigator Dr. Margy Gassel remarked, "that there was plastic in every sample." In other words, the plastic has pervaded every bit of the enormous gyre (it also reaches well below the ocean's surface). As TreeHugger has reported in the past, this plastic both swirls as whole trash (like the baseballs and toothbrushes found by Karsei crew), is ingested by wildlife or breaks down into microscopic particulates that likely affect plankton and zooplankton and screw-up the whole food chain. These degraded bits of plastic are particularly nasty as they easily shift with currents and are nearly impossible to extract.
The video skips to a conference held by the Department of Toxic Substances, a part of the California EPA. The conference highlights the findings of Karsei and makes the appeal for "benign by design" manufacturing processes, the term referring to a book by the same name, which, according to one TreeHugger editor promulgated the notion that we should be able to eat what we make.
Obviously to tackle a problem with the scope of the Patch, it'll take radical action from both manufacturers and consumers. Whether that can happen or not will be seen in the coming years.
The end of the video leaves off on a ominous note. Karsei's chief investigator Dr. Andrea Neal speculates that between the plastification of the ocean and climate-change induced dead zones, within our lifetime all fish species could be wiped out from the ocean. Read More on the Great Pacific Trash PatchThe Great Pacific Garbage Patch: "Out of Sight, Out of MindThe Great Pacific Garbage PatchCharles Moore and Dirty Talk about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch