Simulated sunlight reveals how 98% of plastics at sea go missing each year. Trillions of plastic fragments are afloat at sea, which cause large "garbage patches" to form in rotating ocean currents called subtropical gyres.
As a result, impacts on ocean life are increasing and affecting organisms from large mammals to bacteria at the base of the ocean food web. Despite this immense accumulation of plastics at sea, it only accounts for 1 to 2 percent of plastic debris inputs to the ocean. The fate of this missing plastic and its impact on marine life remains largely unknown.
It appears that sunlight-driven photoreactions could be an important sink of buoyant plastics at sea. Sunlight also may have a role in reducing plastics to sizes below those captured by oceanic studies. A team of scientists from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, East China Normal University and Northeastern University conducted a unique study to help elucidate the mystery of missing plastic fragments at sea. Study: Chinese Cargo Ships Dump 73% of Trash in Atlantic Ocean. Published on October 4, 2019 Written by Nate Church International researchers estimate that as much as 73 percent of the garbage in the Atlantic Ocean originates from Chinese merchant vessels, Canada’s National Post reported on Tuesday.
Researchers from Canada and South Africa studied waste washed up on the beaches of Inaccessible Island, an island in the heart of the southern Atlantic Ocean, on a series of trips that began in 1984. Nearly three-quarters of the trash they sifted through originated in Asia, produced by China. The research challenges long assumptions that plastic debris at sea primarily originates on land. “When we were [on the island] last year, it was really shocking how much drink bottles had just come to dominate,” lead author Peter Ryan told the BBC. “What was really shocking was how the origin had shifted from largely South American, which is what you would expect from somewhere like Inaccessible Island, because it’s downwind from South America, to predominantly Asian.” Plastics: Science is Winning. Guest Essay by Kip Hansen — 18 October 2019 Science is beginning to win in the long battle over misinformed anti-plastic advocacy.
It has been a long time coming. The most recent paper on the subject of pelagic plastic (plastic floating in the oceans) is from a scientific team at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod, Mass., and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The study is “Sunlight Converts Polystyrene to Carbon Dioxide and Dissolved Organic Carbon” by Collin P. Ward, Cassia J. We are all familiar with polystyrene — it is prevalent in modern packaging, both as a solid, such as yoghurt cups, or in expanded form used for disposable foam drink cups. The new abstract of the new study starts with this:“ABSTRACT: Numerous international governmental agencies that steer policy assume that polystyrene persists in the environment for millennia.
Plastic Trash Talking. Following a viral video of a turtle with a straw in his nose, plastics suddenly went from the “greatest thing since sliced bread” to environmental villain.
Ocean Plastic Cleanup: Unintended Consequences (artificial habitat for mahi-mahi and more) “Earth stewardship isn’t easy.
Sometimes we make the wrong decisions. Sometimes whatever we do has both positive and negative consequences. One wrong decision is The Ocean Cleanup (TOC) project.” “TOC’s plan … is not manual plastic removal, which allows most creatures to escape. It will instead use purse seines with a minimum mesh size of ⅛ inch (3 mm), capable of trapping microplastics—but also an untold number and variety of sea creatures.”
On a recent boating adventure in the open Pacific, my friends and I came across a section of abandoned fishing net. But as I started to pull the net in, I saw a huge mahi-mahi resting in its shade. I realized then that I faced a dilemma: should I remove the trash, or give the creatures back their home? The section of fishing net was large enough to entangle native Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, and spinner dolphins. Earth stewardship isn’t easy. One wrong decision is The Ocean Cleanup (TOC) project.
Everything. Magical Plastic. News Brief by Kip Hansen Plastics are as much in the news as climate change, and hold the same honored place as a universal scapegoat — an item so odious that all are welcome to blame it for a host of ills environmental and social, real or imagined.
The media has recently highlighted a few stories that shed some light on the question of plastics as a dilemma of modern societies. EU Waste-Dumping Behind The Marine Plastic Crisis - The Global Warming Policy Forum (GWPF)The Global Warming Policy Forum. Today’s fake news: plastics are killing the oceans! Summary: Nothing shows America’s broken vision like the persistence of fake news propaganda despite years of debunking by experts.
This leaves us divided and unable to respond to our problems, as neither Left nor Right clearly see the world. “We’re choking the ocean with plastic” is one such tale, showing how real problems become masked by myths. Meanwhile, overfishing, pollution, and habitat destruction are wrecking the oceans. I and many others wrote about this three years ago, and this fake news still appears in headlines. Compostables Were Meant To Save Us From Plastics. They’re Overflowing Landfills. Report: Recycling Plastic Is Making Ocean Litter Worse.