Garbage Time

Massive patch in the Pacific is way larger than we thought

Ok, you don’t like EPA regulations. Sure, “people are too dramatic about pollution.” You’re convinced that climate change is a hoax. Maybe there’s no point in getting worked up about the environment. Maybe we should all accept that increased pollution is an inevitability, generated by humans, that humans won’t be able to ever fully eliminate.

If any of those snippets mirror your thoughts, you still might not care about this. Still, take a look and see if your inner sympathizer isn’t prodded awake:

There’s a garbage patch floating in the Pacific Ocean that is twice the size of Texas.

Plastic, and trash, in the ocean. Lumped together. Floating.

The area has come to be known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or GPGP, by researchers. Fishing nets, discarded, making up 46% of the mass. The new research was published March 22, 2018 in Nature’s peer-reviewed journal Scientific Reports. The study concluded that at least 79 thousand tons of ocean plastic are floating inside an area of 1.6 million km. The model says that this is a figure four to sixteen times higher than previously reported.

“We explain this difference through the use of more robust methods to quantify larger debris,” the journal’s abstract says. “Microplastics accounted for 8% of the total mass but 94% of the estimated 1.8 (1.1–3.6) trillion pieces floating in the area. Plastic collected during our study has specific characteristics such as small surface-to-volume ratio, indicating that only certain types of debris have the capacity to persist and accumulate at the surface of the GPGP. Finally, our results suggest that ocean plastic pollution within the GPGP is increasing exponentially and at a faster rate than in surrounding waters.”

Figure 1 from the peer-reviewed Nature journal’s study of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.—Nature: Scientific Reports journal image

Ocean plastic can persist in sea surface waters, eventually accumulating in remote areas of the world’s oceans. The GPGP is a major ocean plastic accumulation zone formed in subtropical waters between California and Hawaii. This most recent study was completed in October 2017.

The United Nations held its World Water Day Thursday, March 22 in recognition of the struggle to acquire, maintain, and distribute clean water for third world countries.



  1. Trash & Trade | Electrical Apparatus Magazine - July 5, 2018

    […] Even if you aren’t an environmental nut, you may have noticed in the news a trend of trash heaps cropping up around the world. The waste issue, oft-overlooked in much of society, but combated by recycling advocates at a spiked pace of late, has spread from mere landfills and piles to obscure places and record amounts. […]

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