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Plastic is found in even the most remote seas

After discovering a swirling patch of plastic bottles, bags and other bits of debris in both the North Pacific Ocean and throughout the Atlantic Ocean, another potential garbage patch has been uncovered in the coastal seas of Antarctica. 

A majority of the Earth's oceans are remote and untouched by garbage and debris, but as researchers take to the sea more frequently, they're finding that plastic trash is reaching even the most distant waters. According to Anna Cummins, an environmental activist who sailed the Atlantic in February collecting plastic samples, "Humanity's plastic footprint is probably more dangerous than its carbon footprint."

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch was predicted after Alaska-based researchers obtained results from measuring neustonic plastic in the North Pacific Ocean between 1985 and 1988. In 1988, a paper on the topic was published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association. Later, in 1997, Oceanographer and racing boat captain Charles J. Moore stumbled upon a large spread of debris in the North Pacific Gyre after a sailing race.

Earlier this year, an Atlantic Garbage Patch was discovered as well. Cummins and Markus Eriksen found the patch during a sailing trip to the Sargasso Sea. Water samples were taken every 100 miles from the seabed, each sample turning up more plastic debris. 

Now, Antarctica is at risk as well. According to surveys taken during the austral summer of 2007-2008, even the most secluded seas such as the Davis and Durmont D'Urville contained fishing buoys and a plastic cup. The British Antarctic Survey and Greenpeace skimmed surface waters and even dug into the seabed all over the Antarctic region in search of possible debris. In addition to garbage found in the Davis and Durmont D'Urville seas, plastic packaging was found in the Amundsen Sea. 

"The seabeds immediately surrounding continental Antarctica are probably the last environments on the planet yet to be reached by plastics," wrote the research team from the British Antarctic Survey to the journal Marine Environmental Research"But with pieces floating into the surface of the Amundsen Sea, this seems likely to change soon. Our knowledge now touches every sea, but so does our legacy of lost and discarded plastic."

The research team on this expedition, led by David Barnes of the British Antarctic Survey, noted that despite the plastic and debris found in Antarctica, the sledges dragged along the seafloor revealed that the Antarctic ecosystem is "healthy" and "vibrant." Some pieces of plastic may have reached the surface of these desolate waters, but they haven't reached the ocean floor in these areas yet. But researchers are expecting this to change as well.



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RE: Second Hand Plastic Kills
By Aloonatic on 7/1/2010 5:28:53 AM , Rating: 1
A lot of things that "responsible" people should do are "not hard". However what is hard is getting people to care enough to do it, and whilst cleaning up after yourself might be a simple task, it's not as easy as just dumping your rubbish/trash as you go, leaving it for someone else to clean up.

Sadly, we live in an overly commercialised world, which often means selfish world, where everything is about you, and why you are with it etc, so why care about society? It's there to support you, not for you to take part in and play a part in taking care of yourself too. A gross generalisation I know, but things have changed in the last 50 years. Yes, it wasn't all gleaming clean streets and whatever back in the day I know, but people did take part in society more back then, and had a sense of civic responsibility, where as now, people just see society for what it can do for them.

As we've moved towards the notion of the "powerful" individual, so we all have an iWhatever, notebook, car, 50" TV and do what we want when we want, when we want as that sells more product, we have forgotten why we should give a damn about what is going on in the rest of our society, and that we all share a responsibility for what goes on. You see the comments about I pay my taxes so why should I care... Well, we all pay our taxes, and we should all care.

So until that mind set that most people have in the west (where we have a free choice) changes, things aren't going to change. I don't know how it will change either, as I too enjoy all my shiny gadgets, and the bright lights of the commercialised world which is moving on so fast, but still, we need to stop and think a bit more. I know with this rant I'll get accused of being a lefty or liberal or whatever, I'm really not though, but I just see that there are problems with the way things are now, and don't pretend that either choice, left/right liberal/conservative/socialist will have all the answers to every problem either.

Socially responsible, conservative liberalism FTW! :-D


RE: Second Hand Plastic Kills
By Aloonatic on 7/2/2010 4:00:54 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, didn't think that would go down well here.

How about, let Obama walk over on water to all the rubbish and clean it up.

Am right?!?!


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