Just One Word...

Posted Monday, May 3, 2010, at 9:04 AM
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    Robert A Peel is mostly correct about the visibility of the Pacific Trash Vortex. It can't be seen from space is is often difficult to see from low flying aircraft. While the above picture is claimed to be from the vortex, I'll agree with Robert that "it is a mistake to visualize the trash heap as the size of Texas in the MANNER the photo suggests".

    But make no mistake, plastic, sludge, and who knows what all is there though much of it is small and floats just below the surface, and though several attempts have been tried to remediate the problem, there has been little success, and some scientists think it is mission impossible. All the while, the trash vortex gets bigger.

    Robert mentions the size of the vortex being unknown guesswork and that is true. For this blog however, I chose to use the smallest size estimate for the vortex I could find, but to go to the other extreme of estimates, it could be larger than the continental USA too.

    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Mon, May 3, 2010, at 2:55 PM
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    Perhaps it would be wise to tell why the plastic is small and suspended in the water. From the above cited source...

    "The Great Pacific Garbage Patch has one of the highest levels known of plastic particulate suspended in the upper water column. As a result, it is one of several oceanic regions where researchers have studied the effects and impact of plastic photodegradation in the neustonic layer of water. Unlike debris, which biodegrades, the photodegraded plastic disintegrates into ever smaller pieces while remaining a polymer. This process continues down to the molecular level."

    Polymers last forever as far as I know. When plastic gets that small, it is ingested by aquatic organisms and enters our food chain eventually. Just something to think about...

    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Mon, May 3, 2010, at 3:21 PM
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    I agree GI, but Robert was and is correct about the picture. Maybe I should change it to show microscopic plastic instead?

    -- Posted by Brian Hoag on Mon, May 3, 2010, at 3:46 PM
  • Does that mean if I put a message in a plastic bottle and threw it into the ocean that it would eventually find its way to this vortex? Hmm... So that's why they always put those things in glass bottles. I'm just kidding. Although, a gps unit and a plastic bottle might provide the explanation science is looking for. I've got the bottle if someone else has the gps.

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Mon, May 3, 2010, at 5:56 PM
  • Our little year-round river here is just barely too wide to clear with a running jump in most places.

    There are still some historic grist mills along it.

    The original Indian trading paths have been located along its valley.'

    Fortunately for a long stretch of river, twice yearly clean up days have removed several hundred tons of trash over the past decade.

    The recyled materials from each drive have paid the bills for the next.

    All it takes is hundreds of people getting on old clothes and shoes, eager for eight to ten hours wallowing in the muck.

    Best thing, several judges have started sentencing litter bugs to work in one or two or more river clean ups.

    -- Posted by HerndonHank on Fri, May 7, 2010, at 4:14 PM
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