Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Garbage Garbage Garbage

Life encumbered by progress
Not everyone will remember the song Garbage by Steele and Seeger.

Not many people know about The Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

It is in the ocean, and the eastern portion is twice the size of Texas.

The western portion is not quite as large.

Oceanographers say:
The garbage patches present numerous hazards to marine life, fishing and tourism. But before we discuss those, it's important to look at the role of plastic. Plastic constitutes 90 percent of all trash floating in the world's oceans. The United Nations Environment Program estimated in 2006 that every square mile of ocean hosts 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. In some areas, the amount of plastic outweighs the amount of plankton by a ratio of six to one. Of the more than 200 billion pounds of plastic the world produces each year, about 10 percent ends up in the ocean. Seventy percent of that eventually sinks, damaging life on the ocean floor. The rest floats; much of it ends up in gyres and the massive garbage patches that form there, with some plastic eventually washing up on a distant shore.
(How Stuff Works). More than twice the size of Texas ... and then some.

I wonder if the astronauts can see it from space?

Out of sight out of mind.

UPDATE: Some related video:


  1. Wow! I've never heard of these before either. Maybe we're doing a little continent building? Get the things big and stable enough (maybe do a couple flyovers and spray them with a non-water-soluble adhesive), then we can convert them to penal colonies like Australia was originally. Talk about you're garbage races huh?

  2. disaffected,

    There are five distinct gyres now.

    They are a real danger to the food chain.

  3. Peter Wales,

    The question was: "I wonder if the astronauts can see it from space?"


  4. I noticed that the video has some pictures from space looking down on the island.

    On a clear day they could zoom in to see the refuse on the beach and floating in the gyre.

    On a clear night, shortly after dark, the plastic can be seen by infrared as it emits the heat it collected during the day.

    Also, subsurface radar would see it like a floating cloud, like depth finders see schools of fish down under the boat.