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The Largest Landfill On Earth: Plastic Garbage In The Oceans?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Amy Gleich of,

Think about the last time you got takeout or ate at a fast food restaurant. Or the last time you bought a pre-packaged food item from a store, or drank a bottle of water or soda. Chances are, plastic was involved in all those items -- plastic that will still be around up to 1,000 years from now.  

Americans throw away over 30 million tons of plastic every year, of which only about 25 percent is recycled. The rest goes to landfills. Unfortunately, the largest “landfill” on Earth is actually in the North Pacific Ocean.

The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is estimated to be anywhere from 3,100 square miles to twice the size of Texas.

You may be wondering how garbage dumped on land can make it to the ocean. Well, first of all, some garbage is directly dumped into the ocean. Secondly, as Scripps Institution marine biologist Miriam Goldstein puts it, “the ocean is downhill from everywhere;” if someone in Iowa throws a bottle into a river, it will eventually end up in the ocean. Finally, about 20 percent of the debris in the garbage patch comes from sea-going vessels and oil platforms.

The Five Main Ocean Gyres
Caption: The Five Main Ocean Gyres
Credit: Wikipedia

The garbage patch forms in the North Pacific gyre, one of five main ocean gyres worldwide: North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, South Atlantic and Indian Ocean. These gyres are created when the jet stream goes one way and the trade winds go the opposite way – creating a huge, gently swirling circle. On the outside of the circle, the currents move around, but the inside remains calm, making it the perfect place for debris to accumulate.

In the case of the North Pacific gyre, pretty much everything that falls off the west coast of North America and the east coast of Asia will most likely end up in there. While the North Pacific garbage patch is the largest, each of the five gyres has its own accumulation. In fact, the trash from all five gyres put together covers 40 percent of the world’s oceans.

So what exactly are these oceanic garbage patches? Well, first let’s be clear as to what they’re not. Contrary to popular myth they are NOT huge floating trash islands. The patches are made up of millions of small and microscopic pieces of plastic. The patches won’t show up on satellite and if you were to take a boat through them, you might not even necessarily notice the plastic floating in them. So does that mean we don’t need to be concerned?  Nope. The fact that the debris is so small means that cleanup is nearly impossible. As Goldstein explains, you’d basically have to clear-cut the upper layer of the ocean to remove it all.

garbage patches 
Caption: Don’t be fooled. This photo often accompanies stories about the garbage patches, but it was actually taken at Manila Harbor. The real pieces of oceanic plastic garbage are typically smaller than your pinky fingernail.

So the pieces are too small to easily clean up – that might make it seem as though they’re too small to do much damage, but that’s far from correct. Some of the plastic remains in large chunks and many animals and birds become entangled in them and die every year.

The plastic pellets are small enough that birds and fish mistake them for food. This is especially disastrous for birds – the plastic stays in their stomachs, keeping them from eating anything with nutritional value and causing them to slowly starve to death. For fish, whose digestive systems are much different, the effect of eating the plastic may not be so catastrophic, but scientists are still trying to understand the extent to which ingesting these plastic pellets is effecting marine life, but for some, like the albatross below, the deadly effects are clear.

Caption: Dead albatross with a stomach full of plastic debris
Credit: Smithsonian Museum of Natural History

Some creatures have actually been granted a boon by this massive plastic soup, but don’t feel too cheerful about that. The plastic has created a surface for small creatures like water insects, barnacles, small crustaceans and invertebrates called bryozoans. These creatures would normally not make it to the middle of the ocean, so their presence will change the ocean’s ecosystem. Especially in the case of barnacles and bryozoans – they have caused considerable damage to other ecosystems they’ve invaded.

And it’s not just about ecosystems in the middle of the ocean – the surface the plastic provides could enable these creatures to travel to places they’ve never been before, for example, their introduction to the Pacific Northwest islands’ coral reefs could be a real problem. 

So what can be done? The most important thing is for people to be aware. As biologist Goldstein puts it, “It really is an issue that effects everybody, but that’s great because that means that everybody can help.”

Using fewer plastic products would help, as would more recycling of what we already use. There are also scientists who are working to make plastic products from renewable products. According the Science channel, starches, cellulose, soy protein, vegetable oil, triglycerides and bacterial polyesters all contain polymers that can be processed to produce biodegradable plastics.

Even so, reducing the amount of new plastic dumped into the ocean won’t get rid of what’s already there. For that monumental task, The Ocean Cleanup – a group of oceanographers, marine biologists, recycling experts and engineers -- is raising money through crowd funding to launch a massive cleanup effort.


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Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:05 | 4963820 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

  Throw some plywood over it and send the illegals to build a floating city.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:13 | 4963858 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

Sounds like a turd world experience.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20 | 4963889 NidStyles
NidStyles's picture

I thought this BS was debunked a decade ago...

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:26 | 4963924 DeadFred
DeadFred's picture

Plastic doesn't degrade quickly. If we manage to kill ourselves off I imagine whatever species replaces us in a few million years will see the distinct line of plastic deposited worldwide for this time period and they will deduce our extiction was caused by a comet made of plastic.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:39 | 4963986 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

How come everything I buy in plastic seems to disintegrate after a few years and I have to replace it?

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:05 | 4964087 linniepar
linniepar's picture

While I consciously attempt to reduce the amount of waste I add to this planet, I just knew at the end someone would be asking for your money!


Edit:  Serj Tankien - Money

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:24 | 4964164 negative rates
negative rates's picture

Aware of the clock i'd say.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:36 | 4964198 OldPhart
OldPhart's picture

Oceans hold less plastic debris than thought, study suggests

 This is similar to the global climate warming/cooling/change hype.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:17 | 4964642 Stackers
Stackers's picture

George Carlin covered this at length. Humans were actually created to feed the planet plastic


Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:16 | 4964137 mkkby
mkkby's picture

I claim that island as a new sovereign nation.  I'll have my own gold backed currency, and the only immigrants allowed will be gorgeous females.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:26 | 4963925 RafterManFMJ
RafterManFMJ's picture

Who cares? Fuck you, planet Earth.

The Humans.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:28 | 4963931 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

A 3 minute cartoon just for you:  "Man" by Steve Cutts.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:02 | 4964315 DaveyJones
DaveyJones's picture

and of course, there's act two:
"Fuck You Humans" - Planet Earth

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 20:53 | 4965190 rogerramjet
rogerramjet's picture

Totally agree!  Who cares.  Got 25 more years to live. Got gas guseling gas hoags.  "Look at me, more than u, fuk u, i won.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:37 | 4963974 DutchR
DutchR's picture

Garbage Island: An Ocean Full of Plastic.

A three part VICE documentary:

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:53 | 4964044 NidStyles
NidStyles's picture

That is a little bit better. Hard to trust most sources these days. So much propaganda and BS running around. First it was an issue, then debunked, and now...

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:07 | 4964606 Paladin en passant
Paladin en passant's picture

"..debunked a decade ago..."

Yes, it was, and more recently, too, but of course the "smart, caring" people don't bother to keep up with the panics once they've reacted with hysteria to the latest bogus statistics put out by the "progressive" luddites.  One picture of a polar bear poised on an ice floe means all the world's going to be destroyed by the flames of man-made hell (but always "in the next ten years.")

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:08 | 4964607 Paladin en passant
Paladin en passant's picture


Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:06 | 4963823 gmak
gmak's picture

On a side note, to think that we are supposed to maintain the species status quo on this planet is just silly. Mother Nature herself wants a great mix so that the best do adapt and survive.  To think that the sub-millimeter plastic in the ocean is going to make a difference on the geological scale is just hubris.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:14 | 4963865 john39
john39's picture

people are missing the real implication of this.  Plastic breaks down into tiny particles, and is taken up into the food chain.  It is already in your body, in every increasing amounts.  Do you have any idea what effects it is having on you?  Plastic, after all, is a petrochemical by product...

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:23 | 4963908 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

Quite a bit of it acts as endocrine disrupters.  

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:01 | 4964074 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

There are a shithouse load of things that are "endocrine disruptors".

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:44 | 4964527 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

So what's your point - A few hundred million tons more won't matter?  And why the quotes?

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 19:00 | 4964815 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Endocrine disruptors are a consequence of being alive.

The only way to get rid of them is to die.

Booga-booga scare tactic number 749. Welcome to the Indoctrination and Manipulation Center.

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 02:52 | 4966259 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

Enjoy your bitch tits, asshole.

I'm not a tree hugger by any means, but when I see 11 yr old girls with DD boobs and little Johnny is in moms basement with nuts the size of a BB and no interest in anything other than World of Warcraft and skinny emo jeans, I don't need 20 years of intensive study at whatever shitty higher learning institution to tell me that something (or many things) is causing some MAJOR effects on human sexual development.

I don't think we have 20 yrs to spare on it. How bout a glass of water....from a fucking glass?

But go ahead and enjoy your high fructose Coke in the plastic BPA leaching bottle and wash yourself in Tea Tree Oil daily. While your at it, lick every cash register receipt you get at check out (very high in BPA).
You'll soon be one moody dood with some fantastic ta-tas and wondering if you should wear heals or those cute scrappy sandals to the club.

Just look around.

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 19:42 | 4970893 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

"Just look around."


Undernourishment slows maturation, overnourishment accelerates maturation. There are a lot of fat, metabolically screwed-up kids.

High testosterone individuals, male and female, develop faster, have sex earlier, more frequently, with more partners, and produce more children, who tend to also have higher testosterone. That's not very doable unless there is access to lots of cheap calories.

Testosterone develops the body at the expense of the brain. It diverts resources to muscle and bone, foreshortens the very long 20 year development time of the brain - especially the later stage higher brain functions.

Viola, the modern developed world.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:13 | 4964119 gmak
gmak's picture

How exactly? Does it break down into its chemical components in a body?  Plastic is quite inert and does not change easily. I am having a hard time believing that it is being incorporated into the muscle tissue of things I eat.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:17 | 4963875 stacking12321
stacking12321's picture

you should invite me to the next party at your house.

i'll throw some beer bottles against the wall, knock some furniture over, spray paint some stuff.

oh yeah, then if you complain, i'll be sure to remind you that it's not going to matter on the geological scale.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:56 | 4964053 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Just think, anytime you're in a room with other people you are breathing in their exhaled breath and inhaling molecules of their bodily fluids.   Eww, maybe it's better to live in an air bubble.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:45 | 4964232 americanspirit
americanspirit's picture

Harbanger - and let's not forget all those farts filling the air you breathe.

But actually, what I dislike most about being in a crowd of people is that I am subjected to the toxic aromas of their mental illness. Hate, fear, lust, greed etc all have a distinctive stench. Closely resembling decaying flesh, except that these smells are of a decaying soul.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:12 | 4964114 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Poor analogy.

Littering the house with a bunch of pictures of you naked would be better.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:46 | 4964013 Oldwood
Oldwood's picture

Whats up with that?

Conservatives hate change and want everything to stay the same, yet they are responsible for destroying the planet.

Progressives claim to want progress and change, yet do everything in their power to prevent evolution, and claim to want to save the planet as it was in 1965 (no not thousands of years ago because the cliate was hotter or colder then, I forget).

I'm just so damned confused.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:15 | 4964117 IdiocracyIsAlre...
IdiocracyIsAlreadyHere's picture

"Conservatives" barely exist these days - those that self-describe as such are usually nothing more than the most petty of tribalists whose opinions are reflect nothing more than their enthusiam to show how much affinity for the "tribe" they possess.  They shout out the terms "liberal" and "progressive" as insults without having any clue as to the actual meaning of those words, just a label to degrade those not of their tribe.

"Progressive" is a word used without actual meaning as well, just a label used to self-identify members of a tribe opposed to the "conservative" one but petty tribalists as well.  The only difference is that the tend to be slightly less atavistic than those of the other tribe but in the end are nothing but poo-flingers all the same.

Humanity is screwed b/c for all we have supposedly learned over the ages the majority of us still can't function without descending into the same primitive tribalist mindset that we had when we were living in caves and just learning to understand fire.

Are you still confused?   

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:30 | 4964184 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

Since mankind has pretty much kept his primitive, derived from nature's bloody in tooth and claw social organization, there is virtually no evolutionary pressure to evolve beyond it.

We are probably at the point where, throughout the history of the universe, intelligent life gave up the ghost.

Chimps with nuclear six-guns.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:23 | 4964136 Harbanger
Harbanger's picture

Conservative means to conserve as in stewardship, that would make them true conservationists.  I don't know a single conservative or liberal who wants more pollution. 
Progressives on the other hand, use bullshit to scare people into more control, only they can save you, the last thing they care about is saving anything except their politcal agenda. 

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:38 | 4964202 Anusocracy
Anusocracy's picture

The worst pollution is from the insane true believers, left, right, and middle.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:58 | 4964065 Zoomorph
Zoomorph's picture

You're right that the idea of "preserving" the status quo is rather silly.

You're wrong that sub-millimeter plastic in the ocean won't make a different on the geological scale.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:06 | 4964093 msmith9962
msmith9962's picture

Good point.  All that plastic has to go somewhere.  Why not the ocean?  This is one of the worst parts of what's coming up.  After 6  billion people are gone this place is just gonna be trashed.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:09 | 4963831 Hongcha
Hongcha's picture

We are shitting the bed, gentlemen.  It is only a matter of time before mother nature makes her move.  She can be a real bitch, if you don't play ball; and we are not:

Death Himself
(Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor)
stands grinning, beckoning.
Plutonium tooth-glow.
Eyebrows buzzing.
Strip-mining scythe.

Kali dances on the dead stiff cock.

Aluminum beer cans, plastic spoons,
Plywood veneer, PVC pipe, vinyl seat covers, 
don't exactly burn, don't quite rot, 
flood over us,

robes and garbs
of the Kali-yuga

end of days.


-- Gary Snyder

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:18 | 4963879 Bastiat
Bastiat's picture

Thanks Hongcha.  That poem's been with me since the early 70s.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:21 | 4964663 Zog the Bastiat
Zog the Bastiat's picture

I don't know who you are, but you're not me.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:18 | 4963880 CPL
CPL's picture

I was always a fan of Tui Bei Tu myself.  It's one of the only ones out there with a happy ending, versus the drama queen nonsense everyone else barks about.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20 | 4963891 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

+1 on the Kali Yuga reference. Have a great 2-part song to share:

"Praise the mighty devi who turn the wheel another time."

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 02:15 | 4966204 SF beatnik
SF beatnik's picture

Fuck Gary Snyder. What would Great Bukowski say?

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:08 | 4963838 LawsofPhysics
LawsofPhysics's picture

Banks are already working on how to sell and book this on their balance sheets as "ocean front property".

Mark to fantasy forever!!!

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:16 | 4964133 BigJim
BigJim's picture

There must be some way to define this as valuable hydrocarbon and to introduce it into the system as collateral ready to be rehypothecated.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:35 | 4964715 Big Brother
Big Brother's picture

It's been "rehycarbocated" where the ocean's surface is mined for plastic, which is collected and converted into gas, kerocsene, diesel, etc...  We just have to draw our borders around those circulating arrows and claim it as sovereign ocean currents.  It's only a step above what we do already.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:09 | 4963839 TheABaum
TheABaum's picture

I always love the guy driving a Prius going to some restaurant like Boston Market where the food is served on single use plastic (or at least it was, the last time I was there).

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:15 | 4963840 Mercury
Mercury's picture

Garbage in the ocean disgusts me but (floating) plastic won't last 1000 years in the ocean, no way.

It may not bio-degrade very well but it photo-degrades pretty quickly.

Bring a boat to the Caribbean and watch it and all it's parts wear out in the sun day by day.

It ends up looking like a 50 yr. old crack whore in about 1/4 the time.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:16 | 4963870 john39
john39's picture

degrades... doesn't dissappear.  like ink spilled into sugar.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:30 | 4963951 Mercury
Mercury's picture

Well, degrades into something just as toxic anyway, at least for a while.

Probably a much bigger problem than Global Warming in any case.

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 02:26 | 4966222 Ckierst1
Ckierst1's picture

Bullshit!  These are polymers and any volatiles in these are long gone or very minimal and not significantly released as solubles into the marine water column.

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 03:10 | 4966279 IndyPat
IndyPat's picture

You're right, of course.

They leeched out and are in you from the primary sode pop contact. What didn't stick the first get a second chance to absorb from your water treatment plant.
The great news is that this time, you get the bpa...along with your communities Pharma waste with a side of fluoride to speed up your bone cancer and protect your teeth...while making you less intelligent and more docile.

Chemistry is so fucking awesome.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:22 | 4964157 css1971
css1971's picture

1000 years is meaningless. What they should have talked about is the half life of the material, the time it takes for it to decompose to 1/2 the mass, and no plastic's half life is nothing like 1000 years.

Yeah I'd guess a 10-20 years half life for most untreated plastics in direct sunlight. We'll be mining the stuff from the oceans; gather it up stick it in a kiln and turn it back into oil.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:10 | 4963844 ejmoosa
ejmoosa's picture

And yet not one large scale picture of this from any of the spy birds flying overhead?


I'm gonna need more proof than a few closeup pictures.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:40 | 4963988 BabylonDeer
BabylonDeer's picture

But while Google Earth is good for seeing under the ocean, why can’t I see more of what’s on top, such as this huge collection of garbage?

Google Ocean product manager Steve Miller emailed me this explanation earlier this year:

Regarding the availability of satellite imagery of the oceans: Unfortunately we haven’t found great sources of data for most of the open ocean because most imagery providers focus their efforts on the land. Where we do have satellite imagery for the ocean surface, we’ve preserved it in the most recent version of Google Earth and the satellite view in Maps. For example you can still see trawling vessels in southeast Asia. There are a number of potential applications for such imagery, from amateur interest in finding ships to looking at off-shore oil platforms to locating illegal fishing vessels, so it’s certainly worth exploring how we could track down data for the rest of the ocean.


Regarding the gyre: the trash gyre presents its own set of challenges. Even if we had satellite imagery, the gyre likely wouldn’t appear in it. Most of the plastic is particulate and/or a bit under the surface so you can’t see it in the imagery. A number of groups are starting to focus on collecting more data about the gyre via expeditions and sampling – we’d love to see one or more of them produce maps that could be viewed in Google Earth.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:13 | 4963859 El Gordo
El Gordo's picture

Mother nature knows how to take care of herself.  When she's had enough, she'll thin the herd so to speak.  I don't advocate trashing the oceans, but most of the time the cure  for environmental issues are  to just give them a good leaving alone.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:16 | 4964389 RaceToTheBottom
RaceToTheBottom's picture

Ahh, so the goal is to influence which members of the herd get culled.

I propose we close the circle and rank list those who make the most mess to be first in line.

Not sure how we handle that stupid corporations are people nonsense....


Thu, 07/17/2014 - 02:18 | 4966207 Ckierst1
Ckierst1's picture

You don't have to, Momma Nature can handle it herself.  Don't intervene in natural markets or cycles.  She's been dealing with shit and shitheads for a long time.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:14 | 4963860 Hongcha
Hongcha's picture

Gmak, it's an obscenity.  We don't maintain the species status quo, that's way way out of our league.  All we need to do is respect the symbiosis as it presents itself.  Right now things are careening bad to worse as we appear set to scorch earth of her bounty to keep the lights on and the tires spinning a few decades more.

The seriousness really cannot be overstated.  Our children and grandchildren will curse us for the generation of mealworms we were.  

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20 | 4963894 Al Huxley
Al Huxley's picture

Future generations will probably be too busy struggling to survive to have the time to curse us.  Anyway, we won't be here, so who cares, right?  Who needs a time horizon longer than end-of-summer?

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:23 | 4963915 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

That is incorrect. You have been here before, you are here now, and you will be here again. It is your curse - It is mine.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:40 | 4963985 curbjob
curbjob's picture

More fairies at the bottom of the garden bs ... most of us don't remember being here before, and the few that do are locked away.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:59 | 4964067 Skateboarder
Skateboarder's picture

You're like a program being loaded into the processor. Along the information pathways are caches. Those whose stories have recently been active may see more cache hits, or 'past life experiences.' The intended operation is a fresh start, but cached values always come back first.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:04 | 4964083 messymerry
messymerry's picture

It's a glitch in the matrix.  They've changed something. 

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:20 | 4963883 Statetheist
Statetheist's picture

I agree with the suggestions to help alleviate the problem. As long as it does not involve government, or other forms of coercion through violence.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:21 | 4963902 Fuku Ben
Fuku Ben's picture

Those Google barges aren't doing anything constructive for humanity. Let's convert them into roaming automated recycling barges. Like a Roomba for the sea

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:24 | 4963911 Statetheist
Statetheist's picture

Go for it

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:22 | 4963905 mtl4
mtl4's picture

Seems like the recycling opportunity of the millenium to me.........might even start mining landfills while we're at it.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:24 | 4963912 optimator
optimator's picture

It'll be more valuable when there is no oil.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:17 | 4964141 css1971
css1971's picture

20 years and I guarantee we will be. Already landfils have higher concentrations of some metals than the ores we mine.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:24 | 4963917 G-R-U-N-T
G-R-U-N-T's picture

Hey, these birds are obviously a good source for recycled product. I figure I can sell these various items on ebay with a 'green recycled' post consumer waste sticker attached. You know, just doing my part!

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:25 | 4963920 e_u_r_o
e_u_r_o's picture

donated. Thanks ZH for bringing it up

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:33 | 4963960 agstacks
agstacks's picture

George Carlin- The Universe Wanted Plastic

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 15:50 | 4964031 antidisestablis...
antidisestablishmentarianismishness's picture

There must be some way to spin this into just another liberal lie.  I think I once heard Al Gore mention waste products so that pretty much proves that the entire topic is total bullshit and it's ok to throw your garbage out the car window or wherever else you feel like it.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:17 | 4964139 are we there yet
are we there yet's picture

We need All Gore to trash talk about man-bear-pig.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:01 | 4964075 skins1
skins1's picture

I recycle and you should too!!

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:05 | 4964091 world_debt_slave
world_debt_slave's picture

when I was in the Navy we threw all our garbage over the fantail, wonder if they still do it,probably

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:52 | 4964266 viahj
viahj's picture

only some paper items and food waste goes over now-a-days.  most is compacted and stored for shore.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:07 | 4964098 Space Animatoltipap
Space Animatoltipap's picture

Karma is God's precision weapon. It resides in the mind, intelligence and senses.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:13 | 4964120 abgary1
abgary1's picture

The thought of producing biodegradeable plastics is attractive as long as the resulting matter is not toxic.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:36 | 4964199 alexcojones
alexcojones's picture

+1 CSS1971

Landfill in Kodiak is future metals strip mine: Brass, Aluminum, copper, steel, iron, zinc. All stuff used in old time boats.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 16:46 | 4964241 Grouchy Marx
Grouchy Marx's picture

"So what can be done?"

Jump on the opportunity! Spread a thin layer of loam on top, and grass seed; build thousands of McMansions and offer them with sub-prime loans.

It's prime ocean view, bitchez. There are no more bubbles. 

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:38 | 4964496 RichardENixon
RichardENixon's picture

Buy now or be priced out!


Wed, 07/16/2014 - 17:16 | 4964381 UrbanBard
UrbanBard's picture

You are behind the times and spouting propaganda.

Someone, who actually believed this baloney, went out to check and couldn't find this mass of plastic. A few hundreds of tons of whitish pellets, decomposing, sure. Plastics are held together and are kept in their shape, by volatile plasticizers. When the sun bake those out of a plastic, the heavy parts of the trash fall to the ocean bottom.

One nice thing about a good line of BS; you never have learn any new ones. You can constantly recycle the nonsense. It's so tiring having to follow reality.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:14 | 4964629 teslaberry
teslaberry's picture

more alarmist horseshit. 


the 'great patch' is a soup of small pieces of plastic most microscopic. 


algae and bacteria accumulate on the plastic micro-chips and then they sink. that is what happens to all grit int he ocean and that is part of the ocean cycle that moves particles from the top of the ocean downwards through the water column. 



Thu, 07/17/2014 - 01:57 | 4966183 Ckierst1
Ckierst1's picture

I agree.  I think this is just another hyperventilation.  Between the effects of UV embrittlement, coastal and other abrasion, tempest redistribution and biologically engendered particle precipitation, this stuff won't be around long.  It is probably best that it is mobilized to fast forward the cycle.  If we are truly into a "peak oil" scenario then it's days are thusly numbered as an issue.  Sorry about the dead albatross but I don't recall hearing that they are endangered anyway.  I spend a lot of time beachcombing and much of the plastic flotsam I see is from banana republics, likely mobilized from populated coastlines during hurricanes, tropical storms and typhoons.  Another source I commonly see is probably emergency water ration bags from ships which seem to be jettisoned at sea in large quantities and various kinds of military, meteorological, nautical, fishery and rescue buoys, floats, nets and ropes.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:17 | 4964643 Rhetorical
Rhetorical's picture

Very few seem to have taken the time to visit the linked website.I heard about this kid on the bbc about a month ago and checked it out that night. I like the idea andthe kid has stated that if it works it is economically profitable and the system can work pretty much indefinately with minimal resources when weighed agaisnt the weight of this problem. Dont believe its a problem? Go spear fishing, swim around a bit and fire at the first piece of trash or fish you see. come back at the end of the day with your count. In closing thiss kid seems to be sincere and not motivated by a dezire to fleece other people. Hopefully he succeds in his goal.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 18:17 | 4964645 NoWayJose
NoWayJose's picture

The Fukushima radioactive water will mix with this stuff, causing plastic (and any lifeforms) to disintegrate much faster than the environmentalists claim!

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 19:57 | 4965021 tvdog
tvdog's picture

Nature will eventually take care of all the plastic trash. 360 million years ago, plants developed a substance called lignin, which no organism at the time could digest or break down. It accumulated undegraded in the earth, eventually consolidating into coal, oil, and natural gas. Finally, some species of fungi developed enzymes that could break down lignin.

It only took some 60 million years.

Wed, 07/16/2014 - 23:57 | 4965874 AdvancingTime
AdvancingTime's picture

If you look close you will find this on the list. Below is a list of the worlds ten most crucial problems counted down from "least to most crucial"  The world must begin to address these many problems with long term solutions.

Most of these are issues that center on our sustainability. Sadly, politicians do not deal well with such things leaving us without direction. As we look at the human condition we can let fate take us where it may choose or we can take control of our future by proper planning and by guiding it as best we can.

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 01:49 | 4966164 litemine
litemine's picture

Paul Martin, a past Canadian Prime Minister is doing something.  I just gave $150. to help correct this cause....I will also donate time and energy to this.  It must be International, as it was the International Community that has created this.

You will be able to search out this cause if you want to help.   Those who need to make amends, buy your way out,  you should know the price. 

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 07:54 | 4966578 Q-Q-Q
Q-Q-Q's picture
“We’re so self-important. Everybody’s going to save something now. “Save the trees, save the bees, save the whales, save those snails.” And the greatest arrogance of all: save the planet. Save the planet, we don’t even know how to take care of ourselves yet. I’m tired of this shit. I’m tired of f-ing Earth Day. I’m tired of these self-righteous environmentalists, these white, bourgeois liberals who think the only thing wrong with this country is that there aren’t enough bicycle paths. People trying to make the world safe for Volvos. Besides, environmentalists don’t give a shit about the planet. Not in the abstract they don’t. You know what they’re interested in? A clean place to live. Their own habitat. They’re worried that some day in the future they might be personally inconvenienced. Narrow, unenlightened self-interest doesn’t impress me.

The planet has been through a lot worse than us. Been through earthquakes, volcanoes, plate tectonics, continental drift, solar flares, sun spots, magnetic storms, the magnetic reversal of the poles … hundreds of thousands of years of bombardment by comets and asteroids and meteors, worldwide floods, tidal waves, worldwide fires, erosion, cosmic rays, recurring ice ages … And we think some plastic bags and some aluminum cans are going to make a difference? The planet isn’t going anywhere. WE are! We’re going away. Pack your shit, folks. We’re going away. And we won’t leave much of a trace, either. Maybe a little Styrofoam … The planet’ll be here and we’ll be long gone. Just another failed mutation. Just another closed-end biological mistake. An evolutionary cul-de-sac. The planet’ll shake us off like a bad case of fleas.

The planet will be here for a long, long, LONG time after we’re gone, and it will heal itself, it will cleanse itself, ’cause that’s what it does. It’s a self-correcting system. The air and the water will recover, the earth will be renewed. And if it’s true that plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn’t share our prejudice toward plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn’t know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, “Why are we here?”

Plastic… asshole.”


George Carlin

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 09:42 | 4967045 johnnygeneric
johnnygeneric's picture

The whole floating islands of plastic is a myth.  I'm aghast Zero hedge publishes something like this.

I'm afraid I can't read this website if this is the kind of crap they are going to publish.

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 09:42 | 4967050 johnnygeneric
johnnygeneric's picture

The whole floating islands of plastic is a myth.  I'm aghast Zero hedge publishes something like this.

I'm afraid I can't read this website if this is the kind of crap they are going to publish.

Thu, 07/17/2014 - 09:42 | 4967051 johnnygeneric
johnnygeneric's picture

The whole floating islands of plastic is a myth.  I'm aghast Zero hedge publishes something like this.

I'm afraid I can't read this website if this is the kind of crap they are going to publish.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!