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Old 14-06-2010, 17:24   #1
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Plastics Pollution in Our Oceans . . .

My wife Lisa is at sea aboard the tall ship SSV CORWITH CRAMER, as part of an expedition crew doing research on plastics pollution in the western Atlantic Ocean, in a region commonly known as The Sargasso Sea. The ship set sail from Bermuda on June 11th and will return to Bermuda on July 14th. You can follow the ship's progress and read the crew blogs at:

Plastics at SEA | North Atlantic Expedition | Sea Education Association (SEA)
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Old 14-06-2010, 18:51   #2
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Thanks for sharing. Interesting project. There's also a good video on plastic pollution in the oceans here:

Capt. Charles Moore on the seas of plastic | Video on TED.com

Sad what we're doing to our planet.
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Old 14-06-2010, 19:24   #3
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Is it research or activism?

I understand the need for both.

Are they going to use scientific principles to get an estimate of the volume or mass?
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Old 14-06-2010, 19:51   #4
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Then there is this:

A passion to clean up the Pacific Ocean's great 'garbage patch' - CSMonitor.com

Project Kaisei - Capturing the Plastic Vortex
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Old 14-06-2010, 20:24   #5
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Is it research or activism?

I understand the need for both.

Are they going to use scientific principles to get an estimate of the volume or mass?
David -

It's pure scientific research. There are three oceanographers/biologists aboard along with various students pursuing related doctoral and masters degrees.
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Old 14-06-2010, 22:16   #6
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Thanks, I hope you'll keep us up to date with what they're finding.
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Old 14-06-2010, 22:48   #7
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It will be interesting to see if the BP oil spill makes it out into the Sargasso Sea via ocean currents. Lots of things are written about ocean currents, and we are going to see in real time where all that surface oil and deep sea oil plumes go. That would be quite a mess if the oil reaches all that plastic.
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Old 14-06-2010, 23:45   #8
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I think any kind of research studying the plastic in the ocean is notable, but if no ideas for clean up are studied or experimented with, the research will be nothing but an interesting read.
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Old 15-06-2010, 00:21   #9
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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.

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Old 15-06-2010, 01:40   #10
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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
I know what you're saying. You go to Mexico and you won't see an aluminum can anywhere because they're worth money but you see plastic everywhere because it's not. Of course there is another side to it ... they didn't make the plastic. We keep using plastic because it's viewed as cheap and disposable and from one point of view it is. Another point of view might suggest that the real cost has never been added up. The BP disaster in the gulf, the middle east fiasco, global climate change are some things that spring to mind that in some ways are connected.
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Old 15-06-2010, 04:21   #11
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I would be interested if they could work out what countires it comes from. [...] 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.
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..
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Old 15-06-2010, 05:51   #12
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Rest assured that most of the plastic floating in the oceans today is "our" plastic ..
Well, I hate to disappoint you, but you better get on your boat and high tail it to some of the areas we have been including Asia and the Middle east. American and European plastic just can't navigate to those places.

Its a bit of an eye opener. A bit of a shock and an eye opener.


Mark
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Old 15-06-2010, 07:08   #13
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That coming from a national of one of the world's top polluting countries is a bit rich..!
CO2 is not a pollutant. And what does CO2 production have to do with plastic garbage?


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.
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Old 15-06-2010, 07:39   #14
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Well, I hate to disappoint you, but you better get on your boat and high tail it to some of the areas we have been including Asia and the Middle east. American and European plastic just can't navigate to those places.

Its a bit of an eye opener. A bit of a shock and an eye opener.


Mark
I am going to have to agree with Mark on this one. We just left N.E. Florida, and plastic was plentiful in the waters off Jamaica, in Cartegena. Go to the Philippines, and see what is everywhere, PLASTIC! I was in small villages, Cabo, & P.V. in Mexico. They were all pretty clean except for Ensenada, but that was nearly 2 decades ago.

The big countries package everything in plastic knowing very well where it is going. The fault lies everywhere. A friend was in Bali 30 years ago, and the roadside eateries used leaves as plates. It just breaks down, and there was no noticable garbage. 10 years ago he said the countryside was littered with plastic, because the locals had the same habit of throwing what was used to the roadside.The poorer & less educated the country the more garbage is visible......i2f
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Old 15-06-2010, 07:45   #15
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Wow; I had no idea (or intention!) of starting such a debate!

Folks, if you follow the link to the expedition site posted with the original post, and keep current with it, the logs and blogs will answer many of your questions. Interestingly enough, much of the plastics in the ocean are very, very small fragments. A tremendous amount of it is neutrally buoyant several fathoms down. It's a case of "it's what you can't see..."
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