Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed. ― Mahatma Gandhi
That’s a great goal which you would think would be the aim for all human beings, not so!
When you see the litter left behind after a weekend at the beach, plastic that chokes wildlife and is so widespread that it is witnessed in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in the form of large floating islands of debris, mostly in the form of non degradable plastics, deadly for wildlife and a sad reflection on the throw-away society that most of the world appears to follow.
In fact The world’s largest collection of ocean rubbish is growing. The Great Pacific Rubbish patch which is a collection of plastic, floating rubbish halfway between Hawaii and California, has grown to more than 600,000 square miles. That’s roughly twice the size of the State of Texas. It’s also known as the The Great Pacific Garbage Patch or the Pacific Trash Vortex and is growing day by day. Some say that it is so big that it can be seen from space but as most of the trash is just below the water most cannot be seen.
This trash often breaks into small pieces and threatens sea life, aquatic ecosystems, fishing industries and the safety of the human seafood supply.
Photodegradation is the effects of sunlight on the huge volume of plastic trash floating out in the ocean. That means that the sun dries the plastic to the point that it breaks into smaller pieces resulting in countless minute pieces of plastic, most of which are floating just below the surface, reaching down some 200 – 300 feet. There is simply no effective way to pull those tiny beads out of the water. The cost, logistics and difficulty being so far from land make it a mammoth problem.
Clearly a change in how we dispose of rubbish in the first place needs to be reviewed and a serious commitment to deal with the ever increasing level of plastics in everyday use. Firstly, there needs to be a serious and determined effort to reduce single use plastics and much better recycling practices. Some countries notably European countries are far better than the USA or China and developing countries in Asia and Africa.However, it’s difficult to be overly optimistic in the present climate given that so many are cynical about environmental issues.
Recently in the journal Nature Communications, studies had indicated that there could be upwards of 21 million tonnes of microplastics in the Atlantic Ocean. The study, led by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre scooped through the upper 200 metres in the Mid Atlantic Ocean. To put that into perspective that amount of plastic would fill almost 200 container ships.