Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now The Size of Texas

microplastics-in-sand_noaa-mdp_472One of the least reported stories this year has been the building catastrophe unfolding in our oceans due to pollution and climate change.  There is no better example of our failure to protect our environment than the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP) now stretching 600,000 square miles, according to a study published last week in Scientific Reports.  This disgusted mass of garbage is now the size of Texas — or for our foreign readers, three times the size of France.

The size of the trash pile has nearly doubled in size since 2016 when it was identified as a growing mass of  plastic. It is now at least 79,000 tons of plastic.

garbagepatch1

It is incredible that the nations of the world are doing so very little as the GPGP continues to explode in size.  Our years of dumping material in our oceans are now reaching a crisis point.  We still depend on our oceans for a huge amount of our food but we continue to overfish and pollute at an alarming rate.  When climate change is added to the mix, we are threatening the future of our children and this planet.

 

70 thoughts on “Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now The Size of Texas

  1. I’ve sailed the Pacific many, many times. Never, not once, have I ever encountered these alleged garbage patches. I’d note further that the seas between Hawaii and the west coast are notoriously rough – I seriously doubt a “patch” would be able to exist there as one contiguous form. Looking at Turley’s map, he’s suggested Guam and Okinawa are surrounding by a garbage patch as well. I’ve never seen a garbage patch near either and, east of Guam the seas again are rough and probably wouldn’t support a contiguous patch.

    One thing you will learn if you venture out across the oceans is this – they are incredibly vast and you learn very quickly how small you really are on this planet when all that’s around you is blue.

  2. Check out these two creative approaches to removing this plastic trash from the oceans:

    https://inhabitat.com/19-year-old-student-develops-ocean-cleanup-array-that-could-remove-7250000-tons-of-plastic-from-the-worlds-oceans/

    https://earthsoceans.foundation

    The former was a brainchild of a 19 year old. He was deeply troubled by the ubiquitous plastic trash in the ocean, killing marine life. He didn’t protest, forward a FB meme, or try to control others. He thought about it and came up with a solution. Then he spent vast amounts of his time busily working, with purpose, on that solution. He thought about how stingrays swim, with their mouths collecting food, and he came upon this idea of using booms to funnel trash to a collecting station that moves with the currents. Now that is being a force for good.

    The latter is a foundation that is premised upon the idea that what has no value is thrown away. The founder was concerned at how the people of Bali would throw trash upon the ground, to mix with the rest of the world’s trash into vast floating islands of plastic, that washed ashore. He has hit upon an idea to give value to that plastic trash, and create an industry of gleaners. The plastic can be up cycled that way, as well as providing income to those who need it.

    These are both creative approaches. I eagerly look forward to their success, as well as the proliferation of other ideas outside the box.

    This unimaginable amount of plastic gets ground down, mixing with the sand, so that it become irrevocably colored. Microscopic bits of it enter into the food chain, and larger chunks kill marine life. God help us if we manage to destroy the marine phytoplankton, because along with cyanobacteria and rainforests, they are the main manufacturers of our planet’s oxygen.

    We cut down the rainforests and poison the oceans at our own great peril. Plus pollution and plastic waste just look unsightly. We’d smother while looking at our own trash.

  3. Plastic chemicals by products enter the food chain and are consumed by humans as well.

    “Microplastics – which range in size from 5mm to 10 nanometres – come from a number of sources. One culprit is “nurdles”, the raw plastic pellets shipped around the world for manufacturing, easily lost during transportation (in 2012 a typhoon spilled millions from a ship in Hong Kong). Recently, the spotlight has been on so-called microbeads, tiny plastic balls found in some cosmetic facial scrubs and toothpaste (many governments, including the UK’s, have moved to ban them). Like microfibres – the threads from synthetic clothes lost during laundry, and rubber debris from vehicle tyres – these tiny pieces of plastic are too small to be filtered out of our wastewater systems, and huge quantities end up in the sea. But it’s the single-use plastics for packaging, more than a third of everything we produce, that present the greatest problem. While many plastics don’t biodegrade, they do photodegrade – UV exposure eventually breaks all those plastic bottles and bags down into tiny pieces, which, in common with microbeads and fibres, potentially leach toxic chemical additives – PCBs, pesticides, flame retardants – put there by manufacturers. ”

    https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/feb/14/sea-to-plate-plastic-got-into-fish

    • Great link, Autumn.

      We are in a Catch 22 with plastic until we come up with a viable alternative. I avoid plastics in food storage at home, but I am at a loss as to what our country could use to package things like lunch meats, cheeses, and other perishables. Of course,we could have the deli slice our meats and then take them home in waxed paper.

  4. Jonathan:

    You blew it this time. You need to do some arithmetic before you get alarmed by the alarmists. The study says about 80,000 metric tons (about 176,400,000 lbs) of garbage in an area of about 1.6 million square kilometers. That is about 110 pounds per square kilometer – probably cleaner than your backyard.

    • doubling in size is a geometric progression. if it were exponential, and had been 300k square miles in 2016, it would be 90 MILLION square miles now. That would be half the surface area of the entire planet.

      • Junk science and the stuff of B-grade sci fi. Pray tell, if it is so scary that we are growing in terms of population, what needs to happen to counter that “problem”? Before you answer, remember The Hunger Games is under copyright so no need to go for dystopianism…intellect will do.

  5. A little appreciation of geography would help with this.

    Texas comprises a land mass of approximately 250,000 square miles, not 600,000. As such, it is slightly larger than France, which is approximately 215,000 square miles, or 550,000 square kilometers for those metrically inclined.

    A more accurate comparison to 600,000 square miles in the United States would be Alaska, which is estimated at 500,000 square miles, or two times Texas.

    • Here’s another way to provide perspective. Planet Earth’s estimated surface area is about 200 million square miles. So if the trash mass really is 600,000 square miles, it covers about 0.3% of Earth’s surface area. Alternatively, we know that Earth is a water world with 71% of its surface area covered in ocean. So the 600,000 square miles is about 0.42% of the ocean’s surface area.

      Compared to Turley’s other obsession of wasting trillions of dollars to pretend we can stop the weather from changing, cleaning up the ocean and keeping it relatively clean seems like a relatively easy problem to solve with real tangible environmental benefits. I agree with him that it is perplexing why the global Ruling Class don’t solve this apparently easy problem.

  6. Bill Gates, Z-berg and the Waltons could self appoint to “solve” the problem but, expect it to result in the fleecing of the middle class for the benefit of colonialism, similar to school privatization.

    • And the oligarchs and the Kochs. Don’t forget about them.

      My God I wish this blog had a blocking option.

  7. In one study I read a while back a little over 60% of the plastic in the oceans come from 40 rivers in India, Indo-China and China. That would be a project to do as a start. There are systems being invented and worked through now that can handle this at the source before it is ground into micro plastic size. Even if it costs a billion per river and then some to keep it up, it would be worth it. Right after that do 40 more and I think we can get that percentage up to over 90%.
    Ban all plastic bags that do not completely dissolve in water after two days. Thus you can still carry your items home as a function but they cannot do nearly as much harm as they do now. Find a company in the world making the version we have now and sick the military on them. Warning first then drone strike. That may seem harsh but look at the loss of 2/3 of our planets ecosystem. Same on the rivers. Local corruption that would cause the system to not work and it is jail time.
    The next issue is just awareness. I have been to a beach in Mid-Mexico where the locals go on Sundays. Monday comes and the place is a mess.

  8. The planet has several common enemies. Pollution is one of them. We need to replace the wars on people with wars on actual enemies. A war on pollution could use billions of taxpayer dollars to vanquish. People could make fortunes working to clean up pollution with even enough left over to contribute to political campaigns. The only short-coming is that men wouldn’t be able to directly kill millions of victims. They would be saving lives. They may not be willing to give up the adrenalin rush they get from killing people.

  9. In 1969, I spent seven weeks on the Canadian Coast Guard Weather Ship, Quadra. The Quadra and Vancouver were the most advanced weather ships in the world at the time. We monitored the weather and oceans over a thousand square miles, over a thousand miles out from BC on ‘Weather Station Papa’ in the North Pacific. Even then bleach bottles and other debris were collecting in this area, called a Weather Knot, where currents and weather systems converge. For decades before and since Japanese fish net floats of blown glass and later plastic, routinely wash up on West Coast beaches.

    The bulk of the garbage comes from packaging of consumer items in small quantities. The small quantities are designed to market goods to the poorer nations. Consumers in these nations cannot afford to buy larger amounts, cannot refrigerate large quantities of goods, etc. However, regardless of where the garbage is coming from or the reasons, it is almost all packaging, drift nets, and other stuff that can be easily linked to the source, the manufacturer or producer of the goods that are packaged.

    Just as with a tax on gasoline, there could be a tax on consumer goods of an almost negligible amount that could fund the clean up of this and future messes. This would clean up the mess, create a new and well needed industry, provide jobs, make a lot of the fat cats at the top even richer, and provide a platform to return the oceans to a healthier state, by attaching marine biologists to the clean up systems. This all could easily be done. A bottle of bleach costing five cents more would mean nothing to the consumer.

    The problem is spineless bureaucrats, oligarchs maintaining the status quo, and complacency, not so much the Asian poor who necessitate two to three times the packaging for what they consume and don’t have the waste disposal infrastructure of the Western nations. However, the same companies that produce the goods of the packaging that ends up in a land fill in the US or Europe produce the same packaging that is ending up in the oceans.

    Pay at the pump.

    Raise gas taxes to pay for the upgrade of the highways and bridges.
    Raise taxes on guns to pay for more exhaustive controls, insurance, etc.
    Raise taxes on the stuff we consume proportionate to the damage done by those goods.
    Create a sur tax on drift nets and other fishing equipment that is refunded when the nets are turned in, no longer functional.

    This takes the ‘I don’t drive a car.’ ‘Gun rights under the 2nd amendment.’ ‘I don’t throw garbage in the ocean.’ arguments out of the equation. The first argument out of the mouth of an a**ho^e that stands up and touts this or that right to avoid doing something about it will always be directed at the true cause, those that can do something but won’t.

      • Sounds like a status quote. Now get on your ‘Rascal’ and boogie on down to the store for some bottled water. Remember, if you refill the bottle once you cut your plastic bottle footprint in half; three times…..

        • issac – so the answer is no. The vaunted Canadians left the trash in the ocean. Tragic. Virtue signaling again.

          • The answer is no for all of us. We’re all bozos on this bus, or rascal. Now, remember Paul, when you ask a question of someone and then answer it, well, they might take your rascal license away. So, watch it. As for vaunted, pot calling kettle black, etc….

            • issac – an avoidance of an answer is a no. And I am the head rascal and proud of it. And we don’t need no stinking licenses.

    • Issac-“In 1969, I spent seven weeks on the Canadian Coast Guard Weather Ship”, to bad they didn’t anchor up and keep you there.

  10. This is your government at work. I pay the government to collect my garbage and get rid of it in a response manner. Most of us pay government or a contractor of the government. It’s required by law for public health.

    • Marie Anna,…
      5 Asian countries are said to be responsible for over half of the ocean trash.
      China, Indonesia, the Phillipines, Thailand, and Vietnam.
      It’s a global problem that goes well beyond U.S. trash disposal.

      • They are chinks, they are chinks… they are chinks all the way…
        From their first cigarette to their roll in the hay.
        They throw trash in the ocean and pee in their sinks…
        We must start nuking or we will all stink.

    • You pay someone to move it from your property to another property. You are not paying the additional cost to recycle it into new products. The cost of recycling plastic into new products is apparently more than the cost of making products from petroleum. We need to pay that additional cost.

  11. “Our years of dumping material in our oceans…” – Professor Turley

    I resent that statement.

    I have never “dumped” waste into any ocean.

    Who did this?

    This appears to be a corollary to overpopulation.

    America stopped its positive birthrate in 1965.

    The culprit(s) must be identified and compelled to fund the clean-up.

  12. Funny no one has ever seen it or taken a picture. I worked merchant ships and sailed boats through the area involved it’s called the North Pacific High one East and one West There is no huge Texas size patch of garbage. sorry first hand witness It looks nothing like the doctored photos in real life.

    Which is not to say there isn’t a problem but the description is not accurate. to dispute you only have to go there…. like I did on mutliiple occasions

    • Bingo! Your crafty photo analysis have undoubtedly allowed you to identify yet another nefarious plot of the diabolical “Deep State” entity which you have so cleverly exposed. In doing so, many would fear that you might be exposes to personal danger from supporters of that diabolical cabal; such ne’er-do-wells have no compunction against taking all step necessary to prevent their diabolical designs from being made public. I trust that you are taking the necessary steps to avoid such a scheme. You’re very likely to be on the lookout for mysterious black helicopters, agents on “stakeout” who are disguised as simple garbage collectors, mail men, or even wearing masks designed to resemble your very own neighbors. You likely are wearing a series of crafty disguises yourself; there are no steps to outlandish when the “Deep State” is opposed to yourself.

      this is to “I took out my molars to avoid being tracked by the ‘Deep State'” mikey

      • Marky Mark Mark – it would be nice if you took the time to educate yourself as to who the Deep State is. Your comments just make you look like an uneducated moron. You are just showing your ignorance and there is no excuse for this level of ignorance, except that you have drunk deep of the Kool-Aid of the Deep State and are protecting them.

      • So, you’ll only fear a visible threat? The micro-plastics you ingest in your tuna sandwich or swordfish steak will sneak by your instinctive macro-enemy defenses, and interfere with your endocrine system (another invisible you probably don’t care about). Your “I have to see it to believe it” escapism sets you up to be poisoned. You won’t flinch until it’s way too late.

        • Why should I jump to the conclusion that ingesting microplastics will hurt me? Just because people that are untrustworthy say so?

          Do the arithmetic, it implies about 110 lbs of garbage per square kilometer in the Garbage Patch. Why should I get excited about that?

          I’m more concerned with a burgeoning population of alarmists.

      • “Cold Hard Truth” – Priceless!

        Allan
        March 7, 2018 at 8:29 PM
        “Character matters. ”

        Get over it, Mark. Your parents bought a condo when they should have bought a condom.

    • Actually most of the plastics of this area in question are microplastic sizes, which are ingested by aquatic life and travel along the food chain. Due to the buoyancy of the particulate matter and their uptake by ocean currents the pollutants concentrate into definable areas such as these, thus the saturation level is higher in this Texas sized area than that of the general ocean.

      The pollution might not be as visible as you describe, but a bottle disintegrated is far more polluting than it is as it would be if it remained intact.

  13. People are coming up with solutions, but one thing that might help is Paper Bags instead of plastic! Although that would make cat pan cleaning less fun. And, glass bottles with deposits on them instead of plastic bottles.

    https://www.theoceancleanup.com/technology/

    With all the unemployed people we have, why can we not put some of them to work cleaning up stuff like this???

    And speaking of cat poop, I bet I throw away nearly 60 pounds of cat litter a week, I think I will weigh the garbage bags next week, because 99% of my throw away trash is cat litter, and maybe 1% egg shells, and vegetable ends. (I recycle the aluminum cans, the newspapers, plastic bottles, and cardboard. And even dump coffee grounds and tea grounds in the yard.) The input weight into the cat box is about 35 pounds per week. But seriously, I bet I could build a hill out of that stuff over time. I don’t know anyway to safely do anything else with it.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  14. Since it is all together, it should be easy to clean up. I think the EU should be responsible for the clean-up. They have extra bureaucrats.

  15. “Great Pacific Garbage Patch Is Now The Size of Texas”

    Which means there are now TWO garbage patches the size of Texas. That’s just a joke, Texas (lighten up). I had it left over from the Bush Administration (and I mean W, not Bush Daddy). The other joke I had left over from the W Administration was about how Bush was so stupid that he thought Lincoln invented the penny. But Conan O’Brien stole that joke (and tried to disguise the theft by changing “penny” to five dollar bill).

    Anyway, they’d better get started building a wall around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (great name for a great garbage patch), or it’ll eventually sink under the weight of illegal immigrants.

    And since Great White Sharks are named due to their habit being the Great White Barrier Reef, it’s probably only a matter of time before a family of sharks will be named the Great Pacific Garbage Patch Shark. Anything that size is bound to eventually attract and propagate a species favored by that environment.

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