A Toxic "plastic soup"

and We are the chefs.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is one of the greatest pieces of evidence there is to prove the consequences of unmindful human behavior on the environment, proving how society must take action to reduce our impact on the beautiful world that surrounds us. The garbage patch is further contributing to climate change by stunting the growth of algae and other organisms, affecting the oceans ability to soak up heat and carbon as well as putting toxins into marine animals that humans consume.

The Garbage Patch is brought together by the ocean currents, fueled by the uneven warming of the earth which is created by the rotation of the planet. Currents are further affected by numerous different factors including wind and differences in depth across the floor of the ocean.

A combination of the Western Garbage Patch (near Japan) and the Eastern Garbage Patch (between Hawaii and California) create The Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The great garbage patch lives in the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone where the warm, South Pacific water meets the cold, Arctic water, linking the two piles of garbage together and creating a thoroughfare for the debris.

The four different current interactions: California, North Equatorial, Kuroshiro, and North Pacific, create clockwise currents that encompass 7.7 million square miles of still ocean in the convergence zone.

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not an island of trash as some may imagine. The majority of the debris in the garbage patch is nearly invisible microplastics, or tiny pieces of plastic that cause the water to appear cloudy. Mixed in with the microplastics are pieces of trash.

Additionally, more trash is being discovered under the surface of the water. Oceanographers and ecologist have estimated that 70% of debris sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

Although it is impossible to scientifically estimate the size or mass of any garbage patch due to the movement of the ocean’s water, The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is said to be roughly twice the size of Texas.

Where does the trash come from?

  • 80% comes from humans on land
  • 20% comes from humans on offshore vessels

By 2050 plastic production is estimated to quadruple to 100 million tons – its only been 76 years since plastic was first produced

The following video may be heartbreaking but I encourage you to watch it.

136,000 seals, sea lions, and whales are killed each year from abandoned fishing gear (World Animal Protection)

Layson Albatross are the most affected by the Great Pacific Garbage Patch because they primarily feed off of the surface of the water. Midway Island in the Pacific contains multiple thousand Albatross carcasses are found stuffed with plastic.

As marine life ingests more and more plastic, the toxins work their way up the food chain and eventually into humans.

Scientists estimate a 6:1 ratio of plastic to plankton.

6 kilograms of plastic for every 1 kilogram of plankton (Charles Moore).

The plastic and garbage block the sunlight from the plankton and algae, reducing the amount carbon these organisms can absorb.

What can you do?

Its a hard question to answer, but reducing the amount of plastic you use and recycling can go a long way!

Discussion Questions:

1. What can you do to reduce the amount of plastic that you use everyday?

2. Why do you thing The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is not more publicized? How can you help spread the word?

I challenge YOU to pick up 5 pieces of trash every day.

By Talia Toland

Works Cited

“Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. National Geographic. http://nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/great-pacific-garbage-patch/

“Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. https://marinedebris.noaa.gov/info/patch.html

“How Big Is the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’? Science vs. Myth”. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. http://response.restoration.noaa.gov/about/media/how-big-great-pacific-garbage-patch-science-vs-myth.html

“Facts”. Garbage Patch – The Great Pacific Garbage Patch and other pollution issues. http://garbagepatch.net/greatpacificoceangarbagepatchfacts/

“How the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is Destroying the Oceans and the Future for Marine Life”. One Green Planet. http://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/great-pacific-garbage-patch-is-destroying-the-oceans/

“10 Things You Can Do to Save the Ocean”. National Geographic. http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/take-action/10-things-you-can-do-to-save-the-ocean/

“Mythbuster: The Truth about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. Yale Scientific. http://www.yalescientific.org/2013/12/mythbuster-the-truth-about-the-great-pacific-garbage-patch/

Credits:

Created with images by narcah - "Ocean Sunset"

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