What was that about that Garbage Patch in the Pacific

Discussion in 'Environment' started by westwall, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. westwall
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    westwall USMB Mod Staff Member Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    You know the one that Chris has said is twice the size of Texas? Wellllll it turns out that like most things in the enviro wacko realm it just plain ain't true. It seems they over estimated the size of the patch by a measly 200,000 times! Now that is some GREAT science don't you think? The study, funded in part by the National Science Foundation, found some surprising things. First off there were lots of critters that LIKED the plastic. In fact it is "well I'll let the lady speak for herself...



    The hyperbole about plastic patches saturating the media rankles White, who says such exaggeration can drive a wedge between the public and the scientific community. One recent claim that the garbage patch is as deep as the Golden Gate Bridge is tall is completely unfounded, she said.

    “Most plastics either sink or float,” White pointed out. “Plastic isn’t likely to be evenly distributed through the top 100 feet of the water column.”

    White says there is growing interest in removing plastic from the ocean, but such efforts will be costly, inefficient, and may have unforeseen consequences. It would be difficult, for example, to “corral” and remove plastic particles from ocean waters without inadvertently removing phytoplankton, zooplankton, and small surface-dwelling aquatic creatures.

    “These small organisms are the heartbeat of the ocean,” she said. “They are the foundation of healthy ocean food chains and immensely more abundant than plastic debris.”

    The relationship between microbes and plastic is what drew White and her C-MORE colleagues to their analysis in the first place. During a recent expedition, they discovered that photosynthetic microbes were thriving on many plastic particles, in essence confirming that plastic is prime real estate for certain microbes.

    White also noted that while plastic may be beneficial to some organisms, it can also be toxic. Specifically, it is well-known that plastic debris can adsorb toxins such as PCB.

    “On one hand, these plastics may help remove toxins from the water,” she said. “On the other hand, these same toxin-laden particles may be ingested by fish and seabirds. Plastic clearly does not belong in the ocean.”

    Among other findings, which White believes should be part of the public dialogue on ocean trash:

    Calculations show that the amount of energy it would take to remove plastics from the ocean is roughly 250 times the mass of the plastic itself;




    Study: No 'garbage patch' of ocean plastic - UPI.com

    OSU prof: Ocean garbage patch 'grossly exaggerated' | KVAL CBS 13 - News, Weather and Sports - Eugene, OR - Eugene, Oregon | Consumer
     

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