For quite some time, I've been hearing rumors and stories about a giant Texas-sized ball of garbage floating around the Pacific Ocean. Now this story pops up in Vice Magazine, of all places, which provides a compelling outline of the deeper environmental cost. Originally, I imagined something like The Raft, but the real picture of the Pacific Trash Vortex is even more scary.
The North Pacific Gyre is a large region of ocean stabilized by the Coriolis effect. Traditionally known as the 'horse latitudes', the circular rotation of the ocean has sucked in millions of tons of plastic garbage from all over the Pacific rim. It is estimated that at least 80% of this garbage has been washed out to sea from the land - only a very small amount can be accounted for as being dumped off ships. As usual, Asia and America en masse are the main culprits.
The most disturbing aspect of this becomes apparent in samples of water taken from the garbage zone. Microorganisms, the main ingredients of life in the ocean are being literally choked by tiny baubles of plastic. Given the role of these tiny creatures at the base of the food chain, these compounds may be moving through the ecosystem faster and more destructively then we may have ever imagined. The poisoning of the sea turns out to be far more mundane and obvious than we might have guessed.
Sometimes it's hard to be optimistic about the human species. No other known creatures fuck up their future environment so willfully and willingly in exchange for the most pitiful of short term gains. It may already be too late.