The human race is challenged more than ever before to demonstrate our mastery - not over nature but of ourselves.-Rachel Carson
Gloria Cohen, editor of Edible Hawaiian Islands, included a link at the very end of her recent newsletter that has been haunting me for the past few days. There's a massive, plastic garbage heap floating out in the North Pacific Ocean! I've heard mention of styrofoam cups and plates floating out in the Pacific and lawn chairs and coolers washed up on deserted beaches, but this is truly bizarre.
When Charles Moore, the American oceanographer credited with discovering this "ocean fill", wrote an article for Natural History Magazine in 2003, the estimated area was the size of Texas. This February, one of Moore's colleagues stated in another article that the plastic soup has grown to twice the size of the continental United States!
Maybe it's not yet considered critical mass because it exists in an area not frequented by sailors or fishermen. The North Pacific gyre is a vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of little wind and extreme high pressure systems. However, it appears to be growing at an alarming rate and the researchers believe that all the plastic that has ever been produced, still exists. (Even that white vinyl skirt I wore in high school?)
I thought I was making strides by getting rid of my plastic storage bowls (replaced them with glass) and taking my own reusable shopping bags to the store with me, but a look through my kitchen reveals a horde of food items wrapped in plastic. The truck I drive is full of it, inside and out. I have CD cases and stuff from COSTCO encased in plastic that I can't get into without a hacksaw.
Maybe this is all part of a plan. We're building another continent with our plastic trash so there will be land for all of the people who will be living past 150. A sense of humor hopefully precedes a sense of urgency.
Watch a preview of Synthetic Sea by the Algalita Marine Research Foundation. Charles Moore is the founder.
Kamilo Beach is a Big Island beach near South Point that's coated with trash from the sea.