Case Studies on Environmental Irresponsibility

US GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE SOLUTIONS

Case Studies On Our Oceans

Trash from North America can take as long as six years to reach the Pacific Garbage Patch as it moves through the collection of currents in the area. Currents from Asia have a much more direct route, so trash from China and other eastern countries can get to the garbage patch in about one year.

 

Humans discard massive quantities of plastic each day, and much ends up in the oceans. The non-biodegradable plastics remain intact, even after 50 years, and contribute to the ”Great Pacific Garbage Patch,” hundreds of miles of plastic floating in the Pacific. The fouled water, containing 100 million tons of debris, kills wildlife that ingests the plastic and destroys once-pristine beaches. The plastic hydrocarbon-based pesticides enter the food chain and can also endanger humans. If continued, the reckless disregard could culminate in an ecological disaster on a global scale. A policy that punishes manufacturers for irresponsible acts and penalizes consumers for not recycling could prove effective.

  It’s estimated that 8 million tons of plastic make their way into the oceans each year. A large amount of plastic has gotten caught in the North Pacific Subtropic Gyre, creating something that has been called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The Pacific Garbage Patch was discovered in 1997 by Charles Moore, while he was on a voyage past Hawaii. The Pacific garbage patch has been called the largest garbage dump in the world. That might lead you to think that it looks like a small patch of plastic waste. Below is what it really looks like. In the Pacific Ocean, a combination of four different currents combine to form the North Pacific Subtropic Gyre —a slow-moving spiral of water in the middle of the Pacific. That wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that human beings are pretty messy creatures. In the Pacific Ocean, a combination of four different currents combine to form the North Pacific Subtropic Gyre —a slow-moving spiral of water in the middle of the Pacific. That wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that human beings are pretty messy creatures. The area in the center of a gyre tends to be calm and stable, which means that a plastic bag that falls off a ship en-route to California can ride the different currents until it ends up floating in a stable zone in the middle of the Pacific. The current brings the trash in, where it sets up like a relative on your couch overstaying their welcome. Approximately 80% of trash in the patch comes from North America and Asia, while the rest comes from boaters, oil rigs, and lost cargo from freight ships and other vessels. Much of the debris floating in the ocean is plastic. This is largely due to the fact that we use plastic so much in our society. It is durable, low-cost, doesn’t biodegrade in water, and has a wide variety of uses. These are great traits when describing a building material, but horrible when they apply to floating refuse.

Without some strict policies on waste management imposed by governments for the proper disposal of plastic waste products the future of our oceans is uncertain.