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January 05, 2010

The Plastics Gyre... The Plastic Blob? or the newest nation on earth: plastics.com

So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell,

200px-Network12 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!'

Ok, maybe I'm not 'that' mad, but almost. It isn't the first time this non-fact has gotten to me, it gets me everytime I read it.

This time it was here but I'll quote it for you;

"The famous (or infamous) Texas-sized blob of plastic now floating about the Pacific..."

There is no Texas sized blob of plastic floating in the Pacific, not even close. You'll find clumps of plastics crap but no island blob the size of Texas. If there WAS a Texas sized blob, I'd be on my way there right now to declare it the sovereign state of plastics.com and plant the plastics.com national flag.

400x400circle I've checked with the UN, I could do it. Then I'd invent a tugboat with a big scoop and start recycling my island. Yes, I'd lose real estate, but I'd be rich.  Or maybe I'd just tow it to China and sell it there, they buy a lot of scrap.

I think of myself as an environmentalist. I've worked for years in recycling and was one of the original founders of the SPE Recycling Div (Now the Environmental Div).  But in general, people that spout this nonsense aren't environmentalists to me, they are dumb, factless rumormongers or worse, liars. Environmental Fundamentalists who seem to think the means (distortion to scare people) justifies the ends of getting the problem fixed. It's embarrassing to think of myself lumped in with these eco-jugheads who don't have facts.

And indeed there is a problem, a serious crisis of a problem.  But the reason I can't tow my island to China or chop it up in my recycling tugboat grinder is because there is NO ISLAND.  The problem is much worse than that. The vast amount of plastic in the Gyres is broken down into sizes, some so small you have trouble seeing them and suspended under the water, not floating on top.  And therein lies the real problem: There is no simple method to clean it up yet. I'm not even sure there is a complicated solution on the table.  You can't simply filter it as it will take all the good stuff as well, plankton, etc.  Or so I understand. I read little about solutions, mostly it's hyperbole about the giant island.

And the plastics industry does little to acknowledge the issue and promote a solution. On the left we have what I call Environmental Fundamentalists yelling "Plastics BAD" and industry spokespeople countering with "Plastics GOOD". [Insert sigh here]

We need solutions, not ridiculous exaggerations, we need accurate reporting to counter points made that simply are not true.  For every accurate article I see regarding the Gyre problem, I seem to see ten talking about my non-existent island.

Too bad it isn't an island, I'd be on my way with my flag right now.


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Thanks, its nice to see a different side of the story on this issue.

Here Here! Greg, the real environmentalists who have actually been out there know what's going on (like the folks from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation) and are doing everything they can to correct this misperception. People like Captain Charles Moore, Anna Cummins, and Marcus Eriksen from Algalita and Mary Crowley from Project Kaisei come back and tell everyone that it's more like a plastic soup. But the media have latched on to this floating island idea and it's very hard to disuade them of it.

This guy, Alan Bisbort, he's just a journalist, right?

This statement in your post, I feel, is unfair:

"Environmental Fundamentalists who seem to think the means (distortion to scare people) justifies the ends of getting the problem fixed. It's embarrassing to think of myself lumped in with these eco-jugheads who don't have facts."

Because I don't think it's really the environmental scientists and people who actually know what's going on who are perpetuating this myth. I think it's journalists and environmentalists who have not yet been clued in on the facts. I honestly don't think anyone is misrepresenting the situation on purpose. I certainly am not.

Cheers. And thanks for the birthday wishes.

:-)

Beth

Okay, Greg. I just posted my own comment over there under yours. It's nice when we agree. :-)

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