|The Flowers of Sophistication|
This series is all about floating continents of garbage that have been ceremonially and serially dumped into our once beautiful oceans, yes, having been dumped there ever since civilization became "sophisticated".
To review a bit, Dredd Blog began this series thusly: Garbage Garbage Garbage (3/2009), then we ran across:
"We're afraid at what we're going to find in the South Gyre, but we've got to go there," said Tony Haymet, director of the Scripps Institution.(New Continent Found - Garbage Gyre II, 8/2009). Not stopping there, we were determined to leave no piece of plastic garbage unturned (The Gyres, The America's Cup & Medals, 2/2010, and Ecocide: Evidence Of Toxins of Power, 2/2010).
Only humans are to blame for ocean debris, Goldstein said. In a blog entry posted a day before the science ship arrived in Newport, Ore., she wrote the research showed her the consequences of humanity's footprint on nature.
"Seeing that influence just floating out here in the middle of nowhere makes our power painfully obvious, and the consequences of the industrial age plain," she wrote. "It's not a pretty sight."
The oceanographer who was quoted above as saying there was a fear "at what we're going to find in the South Gyre, but we've got to go there" need not wonder any more, because a recent survey of the "pristine Southern Ocean" reveals the "sophistication" of human civilization once again:
The first traces of plastic debris have been found in what was thought to be the pristine environment of the Southern Ocean, according to a study released in London by the French scientific research vessel Tara.(Garbage Reaches Southern Ocean, emphasis added). Global garbage change is a new trophy for MOMCOM.
The finding comes following a two-and-a-half-year, 70,000-mile voyage by the schooner across the Atlantic, Pacific, Antarctic and Indian Oceans, to investigate marine ecosystems and biodiversity under climate change.
"We had always assumed that this was a pristine environment, very little touched by human beings," said Chris Bowler, scientific co-ordinator of Tara Oceans. "The fact that we found these plastics is a sign that the reach of human beings is truly planetary in scale."
Samples taken from four different stations at locations in the Southern Ocean and Antarctica revealed traces of plastic at a measure of approximately 50,000 fragments per square kilometre — a rate comparable to the global average.
The next post in this series is here, the previous post is here.
Pete Seeger sings the song "Garbage", written by Bill Steele, ©1969, below. It has, among others, the prescient lyric "we're filling up the sea with garbage".