The world’s first aerial survey of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, a patch of marine debris particles characterized by exceptionally high relative concentrations of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge and other debris that have been trapped by the currents of the North Pacific gyre (large system of rotating ocean currents), has commenced. It is one of five major ocean gyres. Preliminary results of the survey, undertaken by The Ocean Cleanup, show this patch to be much larger and far more concerning than previously thought. Via The Guardian:
“The heart of the garbage patch is thought to be around 1m sq km (386,000 sq miles), with the periphery spanning a further 3.5m sq km (1,351,000 sq miles). The dimensions of this morass of waste are continually morphing, caught in one of the ocean’s huge rotating currents. The north Pacific gyre has accumulated a soup of plastic waste, including large items and smaller broken-down micro plastics that can be eaten by fish and enter the food chain.
“According to the UN environmental programme, the great Pacific garbage patch is growing so fast that it, like the Great Wall of China, is becoming visible from space.”
However, perhaps even more concerning is that “ninety-nine percent of our plastic is missing”. That is to say taking into account the amount of trash, specifically plastic, that we know goes into the ocean every year, there should be much, much more that is visible in these trash vortexes such as the Great Pacific. These patches harm animals and ecosystems and ultimately effects the food chain. But it is impossible to understand the full consequences of this trash when it is unknown where all the trash is located and how it has been hidden (i.e. eaten by animals, on ocean floor, etc.)
What is known is that the situation is getting worse. As more toxin-containing plastics break down and are consumed by aquatic life, more toxic chemicals are then ingested by humans, threatening human health. The plastics also facilitate the spread of invasive species. As the patches expand and drift this increases the number and populations of these species as well as the likelihood they will spread to land masses. No humans will be left unaffected by the effects of plastics in the ocean.
Humanity is thereby left to be destroyed by its own garbage.
Have a nice day.