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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Plastic on the beach -- not just ugly

As these disturbing photos reveal, it's also deadly.

Comments (19)

This is why people should embrace a plastic bag tax. The clog up sewers, pollute the ocean, and harm the environment.


20 years ago my husband and I sailed the south Pacific in a 39 ft sailboat. One of the places we stopped along the way was what was then an abandoned atoll, called Palmyra, which is several hundred miles sse of Midway where those photos were taken. The windward side of the atoll was a sea of plastic 20 years ago. The rest of the place was magical and I will treasure the time we spent there, always
The virtual continent of floating garbage in the South Pacific was smaller then than it is today, but it was there. We had to use some of our very precious fuel to motor through it and hope that nothing snagged our propeller or clogged our raw water intakes that cooled the engine.
We saved what little non bio-degradeable garbage we had while at sea, and when we got to places like Samoa and Fiji, we watched as the authorities threw it into the water of the bays where we had just cleared customs and immigration.
My understanding from fellow cruisers is that not much has changed in 20 years in most places.
It will be sad when there are no more albatross to skim the oceans.

Now that the world economy is in the crapper, maybe we can start a new economy that picks up our junk left over by the old, baby-boomer-consume-til-you-die attitude towards "prosperity".

That's been a very interesting point of discussion among biologists and palaeontologists for a few years. Most biologists are of the agreement that any life form with the capability of cracking the polymer chains of most plastics for energy would have developed by now. There's a LOT of energy in those polymers, and it could be a fantastic energy source for bacteria already used to cracking the lignin in wood fiber. At that point, people bring up the old Sixties Kit Pedler novel Mutant 59: The Plastic Eaters to scare you to death on how dependent we are on plastics today.

On the other, the palaeontologists are having fun with surmisals as to what's going to happen with all of this buried plastic in about forty or fifty million years. Considering that most of the coal in Tennessee and Wyoming, as well as in Alberta, dates to when the dinosaurs were around, it's possible that anybody poking around Earth in another 65 million years will come across huge deposits of coal and oil...painstakingly compressed from millions of discarded Ozarka bottles and Fritos bags.

Good lord, that's horrific!

LOTS of *medical* waste in those gizzards.

Looks as if most of that junk is a plastic bottle top...

I thought plastic bottles were "green" compared to their glass and aluminum counterparts.

Maybe its time to go back to good old fashioned glass bottles. Soda from them tastes much better anyway.

Most biologists are of the agreement that any life form with the capability of cracking the polymer chains of most plastics for energy would have developed by now. There's a LOT of energy in those polymers, and it could be a fantastic energy source for bacteria already used to cracking the lignin in wood fiber.

The problem is that the amount of energy needed to crack those polymer chains may not be greater than the amount of energy derived from said cracking. Digesting plastic may just be inefficient.

Bacterial species from Pseudomonas and Sphingomonas can break down petrochemical based plastics under the right conditions. Cost and logistics come into play.
The Pacific Ocean Garbage Patch is much more serious than we thought. All levels of the food chain are affected and the debris is now on Hawaiian shores being ground up into sand-like material.

The money priorities of City Hall seem rather pathetic compared to this issue.

We have been bemoaning the blue plastic for many years.

How come I never see these type scenes on the Oregon beaches which I visit often? When I come upon dead seabirds on our coast, there's no plastics I can see as in these pictures. I do come upon bouys, rope, and other such items coming ashore.

Because Mr. Clark, the concentration of the plastic is less here due to the ocean currents. In the mid Pacific and other places in the oceans there are gyers that hold and concentrate the waste. Believe me I have seen this and it is terrible!!!
Ever hear of "the horse latitudes" or the Sargasso sea or "the doldrums"? The debris of our "civilization" collects in these areas. Those are the areas where these water based birds breed, raise their young and try to feed them, and an albatross is a large bird that requires a lot of food.
BTW since those awful 6 pack holders were banished there are a lot fewer animals trapped in those things on our beaches!

Because most of the suspended plastic is sucked into the gyre at the center of the North Pacific...

Anything that floats and is thrown into a tributary which empties into the ocean will, sooner or later, arrive at the ocean. The prevailing currents will pull it out to where it joins the currents and ends up circling the North Pacific. That's where seabirds pick it up and feed it to their young...killing them.

I don't know where you go, Bob, or if you are ending up there after SOLV completes a beach clean-up, because they are still doing them and still picking up bushels of trash, mostly plastic. I myself have witnessed a dead bird killed by one of those plastic soda can ringed carriers.

Plastic was, is, and will be a killer. We, humans, have, once again, irrevocably soiled out nest. Sooner or later, the trepidations upon the food chain is going to hurt us as a species. The way we go about it, oblivious to the facts and the consequences, practically assures it.

Think about all the plastic packaging which enters your house...I do, I try to separate it. The consumer electronics industry is one of the most egregious plastics polluters on the face of the planet.

Everybody needs to be aware and responsible for their own trash. The days of "out of sight, out of mind" are fast coming to an end. We all need to learn to recycle, reuse, and most of all, reduce. Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.

This "garbage dump" is the size of Texas, many meters deep and growing.

Dangit! I thought this post was about fake boobs.....

Wait...outrage about this, and then outrage about promoting bicycle over car travel? My head is spinning.

No, your spin is spinning.


Tons of plastic washing ashore in WA

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