Are There Really ‘Continents’ of Floating Garbage?

Map of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone (STCZ) within the North Pacific Gyre. Also the location of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Source: NOAA

Map of the North Pacific Subtropical Convergence Zone (STCZ) within the North Pacific Gyre. Also the location of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Source: NOAA

From Daily Galaxy [Disinfo editor's note: This story dates from Dec. 31, 2007 but appears still to be relevant. See also this report from 2008.]:

Since stories have started surfacing more recently, many have wondered, if the rumors are true. Are there really ‘continents’, or massive floating garbage patches residing in the pacific ocean? Apparently, the rumors are true, and these unsightly patches are reportedly killing marine life and releasing poisons that enter the human food chain, as well. However, before you start imagining a plastic version of Maui, keep in mind that these plastic patches certainly aren’t solid surfaced islands that you could build a house on! Ocean currents have collected massive amounts of garbage into a sort of plastic “soup” where countless bits of discarded plastic float intertwined just beneath the surface. Indeed, the human race has really made its mark. One enormous plastic patch is estimated to weigh over 3 million tons altogether and cover an area roughly twice the size of Texas.

But if there is an unfathomably massive collection of plastic junk out there, then why doesn’t everyone already know about it, and why aren’t we doing something about it? Well, there are several reasons. First, no one is keen to claim responsibility for these monstrosities, which exists in one of the most remote spots on the planet. It’s easier to ignore than to deal with, at least in the short term. Most of the plastic is floating just below the surface where explorers, researchers, and scientists can get a good close-up view, but it is nearly impossible to see the massive quantities of submerged trash in photographs taken from great distances. This makes it easier for naysayers to disregard the problem as a mere myth, in spite of all of the well-documented research to the contrary…

[continues in the Daily Galaxy]

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  • 5by5

    Yeah, there are now also huge “dead zones” in the ocean as well (there's a big one off the coast of Washington State) where the oxygen levels in the water are so low, the fish, crab, coral, etc actually just drop dead.

  • 5by5

    Yeah, there are now also huge “dead zones” in the ocean as well (there's a big one off the coast of Washington State) where the oxygen levels in the water are so low, the fish, crab, coral, etc actually just drop dead.

  • mikoolayd

    terrifying

  • tonyviner

    WE ARE KILLING OUR PLANET!

    • ebwolf

      ..and most people don't care.

  • Anonymous

    I hope there aren’t really continents of floating garbage. That would be an inconvenient hindrance to my lifestyle of convenience and consumption.

  • ThirdSection

    I hope there aren't really continents of floating garbage. That would be an inconvenient hindrance to my lifestyle of convenience and consumption.