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Thursday, August 28, 2014

‘Enormous’ Growth Of Ocean Garbage Patch

Capt. Moore reads a magazine on the plastic “island” of aquaculture debris he found on his most recent trip to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Algalita Marine Research and Education)

Capt. Moore reads a magazine on the plastic “island” of aquaculture debris he found on his most recent trip to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. (Algalita Marine Research and Education)

The oceanographer who in 1997 discovered the huge collection of floating garbage between Hawaii and California that’s become known as the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” has just returned from his tenth trip to the area and says he’s “shocked” by the growth in the amount of plastic refuse now there.

Charles J. Moore says much of the plastic that’s there has been pulverized by ocean waves, then eaten by ocean creatures that larger fish eat, and the effect on the food chain is causing lasting harm. In 2001, when his research team published its first survey of the area, there was six times more plastic than plankton in the area. By 2009, it was up to about 36 times more.

“Now I’m afraid it’s going to be in the hundreds,” Moore told Here & Now’s Robin Young. “It was just incredible to sail through trash that you could net from the bow of the boat for hundreds of miles.”

It’s not just American waste causing the issue — Moore reported finding Japanese and Chinese garbage as well — but he says changing the situation will take extreme action on the part of American companies.

“It’s not practical to truly clean up these enormous ocean gyres,” he explained, “but at least the manufacturers of these plastics should have some sort of a fund where they research the problem, they get out there, they get this stuff up, they start making a list of the ‘Dirty Dozen,’ and start trying to change. Because unless we begin the struggle to change the way we produce and consume plastics, we’ll never get to where we want to go.”

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View some of the researchers' photos of the patch:


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  • Denise Rehfuss

    Disturbing and discouraging. I recently moved to Lincoln Park, Michigan from Toledo, Ohio. What a huge difference. Recycling in Ohio.was readily available, if not curbside, then at EVERY Kroger. Michigan–I can’t find.any where to.recycle. curbside not.offered in lincoln park, and the grocery stores only take bottles for cash returns. I collect my recyclables and take them.to Ohio. I can’t bear to put them in the garbage. It is situations like the lack of access to recycling in michigan that perpetuates this garbage patch. I guarantee, no one else in my neighborhood drives their recyclables to a location that offers it.

    • nonyabizzz

      And these patches are just garbage that hasn’t been recycled or landfilled.

      • Denise Rehfuss

        You and I both know that is asinine. Of course the garbage comes from other sources. I am simply saying that there sre many solutions to the problem and recycling is one of many.

        • nonyabizzz

          well excuuuuuuuuse me!

  • Irene Reyzis

    This report is truly depressing. Also amazing to think about just how much modern society has become so plastic-dependent and non-conscious about the implications of this. I’ve seen some biodegradable, plant-based plastic alternatives appear on retail shelves recently, but its market presence is pretty minute and I fear will be continually stunted by traditional plastic which is huge, industrial force to be reckoned with. They probably have enough money and political clout at this point to insure they won’t be incurring regulations anytime soon that would cut into their profits. Even if the US instilled environmentally responsible regulations and practices, what are the chances the rest of the world will ever get on board? The majority of plastics consumed in the US and probably world wide come from a foreign market (China). I remember growing up in the 80s, seeing commercials heralding how plastics are the key to better living for humans everywhere, featuring the slogan “plastics make it possible”. Sure plastics are a great invention, and I’m not denying they provide many benefits in our human world, but the almost complete shunning of naturally based materials for purposes now fulfilled by plastics makes no sense to me. We are now compromising the entire oceanic ecosystem and our own food chain due to our mindless consumption. Way to go humans.

  • barbara Sipe

    Barbara Sipe

  • barbara Sipe

    I strongly feel that too much time will elapse until industry catches up/takes responsibility and begins to try to solve this problem. The conversation should start immediately telling the public what can be done by the individual. We need to be given suggestions about where the following can be purchased: decomposing “bags” that can be used to line our kitchen trash cans, decomposing bags for dog waste. Trash companies that offer recycling need to frequently explain via email or snail mail regarding what exactly can be recycled and what can not. Communities need to frequently tell residents where and how to dispose of styrofoam, paint, empty chemical containers, expired medications, plastic tubs, etc etc. Most people have heard about the ocean and all the waste and how it affects all of us. We can’t solve that problem but we can move forward to stop more of it from happening.

  • scootpeep

    As a Californian and an environmentalist, I am not too shocked to hear about this garbage which is from all reports and accounts, “larger than the state of Texas, hmmm….other than Fukushima radiation and the Pacific Ocean is folding from what science has reported while the Atlantic is widening. And let’s not forget the debris from the Second World War.

  • Ruth Arkless

    Oceanwinnowers.org if we all work together this is doable now!
    Capt. Moore join and share this please we have to work together

  • Hegel1

    this is so f@#$%g sad…seriously…

  • Paul Braga


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