The Great Pacific Garbage Patch Essay

1101 words - 4 pages

PAGE PAGE 1 Garbage Patch
The Great Pacific Garbage Patchand Our Plastic OceanBryan TaylorEnvironmental ScienceDr. TaboneFebrurary 1, 2009Walking on any beach these days, you're sure to find at least some form of plastic on the shoreline. Granted, there's a lot of other stuff floating out in the sea, but unlike natural materials, plastic doesn't degrade normally. Plastic bottles, containers, foam pieces made from polyurethane, and fishing lines are showing up in whole or pieces, and are getting dissolved into the water, to be absorbed by plankton. So much plastic has taken over our oceans, in fact, that in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean, there is a gathering of plastic, debris and toxins twice the size of Texas (Casey, 2007) affectionately dubbed the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.The reason for this large amassed garbage pile in the middle of the ocean is because of the flow of the tides, and in the center there is a slow clockwise spiral that has collected the trash (Greenpeace, 2008). All this plastic wouldn't be such a problem if it didn't have any harmful effects, but seabirds and other animals are swallowing it misconceiving it as prey. Plastic also has an innate ability to soak up chemicals, which in turn is getting into the animals and poisoning them (Greenpeace, 2008). Organisms are also finding their way onto these floating pieces and traveling outside of their normal habitat, and they are becoming an influence on an environment that previously wasn't exposed to them (Greenpeace, 2008).Even though most plastic floats, nearly 70 percent of the plastic accumulated in the ocean is on its floor, blanketing the organisms and plants below. Dutch Scientists have deduced that based on the 110 pieces of litter they found per square kilometer of seabed, there would be approximately 600,000 tons in the North Sea alone (Kostigen, 2008). Captain Charles Moore from the Algalita Marine Research foundation suggests that plastic is now outnumbering zooplankton 6 to 1 (Kostigen, 2008). The plastic and its toxins continue up the food chain until it gets into the food we eat.We consume and throw away in our "throw-away society", plastic and whatever else is disposable. From some of the research that Charles Moore conducted, a hypothesis could be put forth that suggests that all food in the ocean contains plastics. Most don't seem to care because the ocean is far away from them, and don't see the immediate effects of our pollution. So that brings us to the ultimate question of what to do about this huge mess, or why should we even care?Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques Cousteau, reminds us how closely we are linked to the oceans. "We live on a water planet." She says. "Water is life" (Kostigen, 2007). With everything we consume, it all touches a water source some way along the line, so what we do to our environment, we are, in fact, doing directly back to ourselves. In 2003, the United States generated 26,650 tons of plastic waste (De...

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