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Old 15-06-2010, 22:41   #31
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Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Most plastics will break down with exposure to UV. The problem is they may not break down into their core elements/compounds but remain for a long long long time as small pellets. Because of the ocean currents and weather patterns these decomposed/decomposing plastics are being concentrated in specific areas. That may or may not be a big problem. It certainly is something we need to do something about.

Yes, third world countries love to trash their environment. They embrace all the benefits of an improved economy but don't change their social ways quickly. Old habits persist. Still, probably most of the plastic in the oceans come from developed countries simply because of the overwhelming amount of plastic in our societies.
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Old 15-06-2010, 23:02   #32
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What a crazy picture MarkJ!! When I see stuff like that, it just enrages me!! I keep thinking that I better get my yacht quick before the entire planet becomes a variant of your picture!!
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Old 16-06-2010, 01:24   #33
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That coming from a national of one of the world's top polluting countries is a bit rich..!

You have absolutely no data to back up your ludicrous claim that less educated people are somehow less interested in the environment or have higher "random plastic disposal rates", in fact, having lived in the less developed world for most of my life, I would consider this nothing but a pretty offensive slur.

Do consider that the poorest inhabitants of this planet live on subsistence agriculture and will have very little contact with supermarket shopping bags, shrink-wrapped apples and plastic bottled water, or mountains of plastic toys for their kids that are discarded every 2 weeks.

Rest assured that most of the plastic floating in the oceans today is "our" plastic (although I happen to come from a country that does practise extensive recycling of plastics nowadays).

Even leaving aside the fact that most third world inhabitants cause a fraction of the planetary destruction we so casually inflict, you can be absolutely certain that the clean appearance of beaches in industrial countries are due to a permanent, clean up effort.

As you appear to be travelling the med, bear in mind its got a water turnover cycle of 100+ years, so the water hasn't really been replaced by oceanic water since the beginning of the industrial (and plastics) revolution. As you get to the EU-part of the med, you will most certainly see the tractor-driven systems I've seen in use all over..
I'm not sure exactly where you have lived, but we spent 3 months in Indo (which is very much 3rd world) and the rubbish was literally strewn all over the streets - everyone would simply step right over it (everything from crisp packets to aluminium cans, to plastic bottles and plastic bags, rubbish bins were purely ornamental.... I won't go into how disgraceful the beaches where, zillions of shoes (sadly not in pairs!), but again hundreds of plastic bottles and polystyrene. And once again a very similar problem exists here in Malaysia, the beaches are strewn with letter.... and so are a lot of the streets in the smaller villages.You see them eating something and dropping the wrapper on the ground!! I'm sorry to say this but there is definitely not enough eduction about this issue in 3rd world countries... and it's going to take generations to sort it out.
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Old 16-06-2010, 03:25   #34
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If you think this has anything to do with food wrappers not being binned, perhaps you should educate yourselves rather than go on about "uneducated polluting povs":

Globalisation of plastic

"The European Union norms do not allow members to produce more plastic than they can recycle. But they are allowed to produce if they export the plastic waste for recycling to other countries. They conveniently export plastic waste that they are unable to handle domestically"

Plastic "recycling"

"Rather than switching to more environmentally benign (albeit heavier, and more expensive to transport) glass bottles, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and other plastic producers and users have set up a Los Angeles-based enterprise called the Plastics Recycling Corporation of California (PRCC) to facilitate their plastic waste exports. These companies' financial contributions to PRCC subsidize its purchase and export of the waste, virtually all to Asia."

Greenpeace, says, "Single use plastic soda bottle production is an example of a hazardous and totally unnecessary technology. Instead of shifting this polluting technology to the Third World Pepsi should bring back clean, safe, refillable glass bottles, like those used throughout India."

Please don't delude yourselves into thinking we got nothing to do with the problem..

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Finally, mostly the developing world is NOT subsistance farming!
"In India around 70% of the population earn their livelihood from agriculture" (EIU, 1997).

Pick any country, you will find that "42% of the world's laborers are employed in agriculture, making it by far the most common occupation", and this is mostly in the third world. In developed countries, its down to a few percent by now.

I actually hold an MA in development economics, and I've spent quite some time working on a phd thesis on the subject so you may have a difficult time convincing me about the source of rubbish by way of photos taken from the cockpit of your yacht / economics statistics by using capital NOTs.

In fact, if you were to venture outside the yacht club or sightseeing bus and learn the local language, you might be exposed to some fascinating perspectives on the ground.

I spent a rather interesting period living with subsistence farmers in Guatemala as a youngster, and I can assure you that the amount of plastic the women went through when making hand-made tortillas and beans from scratch was absolutely negligible to non-existent, their annual usage probably equates to a single shrink-wrap shopping trip by a western consumer..
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Old 16-06-2010, 04:01   #35
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There's a new documentary called "plastic planet" around by the way, trailer here which makes for an insightful watch about our addiction to plastic in consumer society. Be warned though, you certainly won't find him blaming "disposal attitudes in third world countries" for the catastrophe.
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Old 16-06-2010, 06:10   #36
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"Rather than switching to more environmentally benign (albeit heavier, and more expensive to transport) glass bottles, Pepsi, Coca-Cola and other plastic producers and users have set up a Los Angeles-based enterprise called the Plastics Recycling Corporation of California (PRCC) to facilitate their plastic waste exports. These companies' financial contributions to PRCC subsidize its purchase and export of the waste, virtually all to Asia."

Greenpeace, says, "Single use plastic soda bottle production is an example of a hazardous and totally unnecessary technology. Instead of shifting this polluting technology to the Third World Pepsi should bring back clean, safe, refillable glass bottles, like those used throughout India."
..
Glass being heavier means increased energy expenditure to transport it - more CO2 produced, which is an apparent concern of yours. Also those bottles need to be washed and sterilized for re-use; that comes at a cost too. There are arguments for and against disposable versus reusable. That plastic is exported to Asia to be turned into other plastic products - PET bottles are turned into fleece cloth, for instance.

While the Western world is by no means clean, most of our waste goes to landfills - and most of our countries have laws banning the dumping of plastic waste into the seas. That is perhaps the pertinent distinction between the relatively wealthy and poor countries.
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Old 16-06-2010, 06:33   #37
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Glass being heavier means increased energy expenditure to transport it - more CO2 produced, which is an apparent concern of yours. Also those bottles need to be washed and sterilized for re-use; that comes at a cost too. There are arguments for and against disposable versus reusable. That plastic is exported to Asia to be turned into other plastic products - PET bottles are turned into fleece cloth, for instance.
The overall environmental impact from glass is entirely negligible when compared to plastics, a good portion of which isnt recyclable anyhow.. There isn't much of case for discussion there, suggesting otherwise is really up to the standard of creationist "theories" and similar absurd plots
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Old 16-06-2010, 08:59   #38
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a good article

An accessible read that never fails to shock my students: "Polymers Are Forever," by Alan Weismann published in the May/July issue of Orion.

Polymers Are Forever | Orion Magazine
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Old 16-06-2010, 09:24   #39
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Thanks for that!

"When he sampled near the mouths of Los Angeles creeks that emptied into the Pacific, the numbers rose by a factor of one hundred, and kept rising every year."

I think I may have to revise my Mozambique theory.. Unless it floated up the river first!
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Old 16-06-2010, 17:25   #40
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Although it is a good and noble idea to promote a clean environment - and I certainly and most if not all cruisers I have ebraced the practice the "clean wake" strategy - it is totally unrealistic to expect anything more than to make a minor dent in worldwide pollution, be it plastic or whatever.
- - I would hazard that all the people in the western European and North American countries are concerned and want to help clean up the environment. But all told they add up to maybe one billion people. There are nearly 6 billion other people around the world who have no such consciousness of "clean environment." The exist as they have always existed and pollute as they have always polluted. And they are not going to stop.
- - Bring them modern conveniences like plastic food containers and they buy their $1 "Doubles" and bottled water at the road side vendor and when finished eating literally release their hand grip on the foam plastic container which joins all the others on the ground. A good tropical rain and all that litter washes into the rivers and seas.
- - In Trinidad we have some really wonderful and popular cove and beaches on the outlying islands - which have man-made berms of trash one meter and more high.
- - It is simply not within their consciousness or value structure to do anything else. And trash bins simply do not exist as the governments do not have the money - 1 for the trash bins and 2 -for the trucks to haul off the trash. Welcome to the real world . . .
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Old 16-06-2010, 18:13   #41
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Is it research or activism?
Both are like beauty and pornography---in the mind of the beholder apparently.

Just read some of these posts
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Old 16-06-2010, 19:55   #42
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The overall environmental impact from glass is entirely negligible when compared to plastics, a good portion of which isnt recyclable anyhow.. There isn't much of case for discussion there, suggesting otherwise is really up to the standard of creationist "theories" and similar absurd plots
If you want to discuss religion there are other forums for that. There certainly is a case for discussion here - most of us have plastic boats; all of us use plastics. They can be made, used and disposed of in a clean and responsible manner - not saying they are (just yet) but they can be. Even non-recylable plastic can be turned into energy. PLASCO ENERGY GROUP | Our Zero Waste Philosophy
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Old 05-07-2010, 11:44   #43
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On another thought - has anyone actually (first-hand with your own eyeballs) seen the Great Pacific Garbage Patch? I've seen plenty of individual bit of trash over the years, but have never witnessed a huge floating mass of trash - just wanted to know who has.
I stumbled upon an answer to my own question. This is first of a set of 3 videos that follow Capt Moore: TOXIC: Garbage Island 1 of 3 - Toxic | VBS.TV

The Coles notes version: the plastic is out there, but it is not some giant floating island visible to the naked eye. Rather it's an alarming amount of small pieces and chemical constituents of plastics that are suspended within the water. So when Moore makes the statement that "garbage is visible as far as the eye can see" he is speaking figuratively, not literally.
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Old 05-07-2010, 11:57   #44
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Is it research or activism?
Both are like beauty and pornography---in the mind of the beholder apparently.

Just read some of these posts
When I wrote that, what was going through my mind, but did not state, is that when research gets intermingled with activism, it discredits the research. If "science" is done to try prove a point, its illegitimate science and under the definitions of the Scientific Method, is not science at all. Its why I asked the question...which are they? Because by definition they cannot be both. I did not want to come across in a negative manner but I was curious which it is.

There is quite a bit of activism disguised as science out there which hurts legitimate science and scientists. The public is quite often left in the dark as to which information comes from a truly scientific source or from an activists personal opinion. Much of the public is unaware there is even a difference.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method
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Old 05-07-2010, 11:59   #45
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I would be interested if they could work out what countires it comes from.

Why?

Becuase when was the last time you threw plastic in the water on purpose? 30 years ago? Never?

But in my observation, many 3rd world countries people are not well educated and systemicly chuck huge amounts of plastics into the sea.

Western countires blame ourselves and have, imho, blinkers on about the real causes of plastic polution.

It would be good to see who is responsable for the majority of plastics wilfully discarded.

Mark
Here is a link to a website about some friends that I met in Mexico. OceanGybe: A Global Research & Outreach Expedition to Protect the World's Oceans. - Welcome to OceanGybe.com

They coined a phrase that I really like. Cultural Lag. In many island countries trash was disposed of by throwing it in the ocean. This worked fine when trash was biodegradable. Now with plastics it is no longer a good idea to throw trash in the ocean. So what do we do with plastics? It applies to us as cruisers and would be a great educational tool for islanders as well. Does anyone have an answer for this?

Some of the beaches that Oceangybe visited were so covered with plastic that they could walk on plastic without touching sand.
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