Plastic in the Pacific

The great Great Pacific Garbage Patch is certainly not News; we’ve known about it for years.  What is News is that it grows with little being done about it.

From Greenpeace

The most recent report comes from a fine young Dutch fellow, Boyan Slat, who has taken it on himself to organize, research and start cleaning it up.  His project is at TheOceanCleanUp.   He needs help, of course.

Scientists and volunteers who have spent the last month gathering data on how much plastic garbage is floating in the Pacific Ocean returned to San Francisco on Sunday and said most of the trash they found is in medium to large-sized pieces, as opposed to tiny ones.

Volunteer crews on 30 boats have been measuring the size and mapping the location of tons of plastic waste floating between the west coast and Hawaii that according to some estimates covers an area twice the size of Texas.

 … “It was a good illustration of why it is such an urgent thing to clean up, because if we don’t clean it up soon, then we’ll give the big plastic time to break into smaller and smaller pieces,” said Boyan Slat, who has developed a technology he says could start removing the garbage by 2020.

A 171ft mother ship carrying fishing nets, buckets, buoys and bottles, among other items, and two sailing boats with volunteers who helped collect the garbage samples arrived at San Francisco’s Piers 30-32

The Guardian

And more about Slat and his project at Eco-Business.

The Ocean is Breaking – and That's Not A Good Thing

The changes to the world’s oceans from warming, acidification and the resultant hypoxia are far greater in magnitude  than previously thought, and are happening much faster than predicted.

This is the conclusion of leading researchers on ocean stress, from an April, 2011 workshop at Oxford University.

The key points needed to drive a common sense rethink are:


  • Human actions have resulted in warming and acidification of the oceans and are now causing increased hypoxia.
  • The speeds of many negative changes to the ocean are near to or are tracking the worst case scenarios from IPCC and other predictions.  Some are as predicted but many are faster than anticipated, and many are still accelerating.
  • The magnitude of the cumulative impacts on the ocean is greater than previously understood.
  • Timelines for action are shrinking.
  • Resilience of the ocean to climate change impacts is severely compromised by the other stressors from human activity, including fisheries, pollution and habitat destruction.
  • Ecosystem collapse is occurring as a result of both current and emerging stressors.
  • The extinction threat to marine species is rapidly increasing.

The workshop was led by the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) together with International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Full report here.


More in a Travis Donovan post at HuffPo and by Richard Black at BBC.