FROM PLASTIC GARBAGE PATCH TO DINNER PLATE

Microplastics in sea threat to human health, United Nations warns

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-39217985  (copy to browser to open)

BBC Video link above captures the moment plastic enters the food chain

Pacific Garbage Patch

Microplastics are created when larger plastic debris breaks down by sunlight and wave action into rice-sized bits that measure five millimeters or less.  They have turned the world’s oceans into what scientists call a “plastic soup,” but their impact on the marine ecosystem in our oceans is not fully understood. A 2015 study had attempted

to measure how much microplastic is in the world’s oceans confirmed the “soup” description, when it estimated the number of particles in 2014 range from 15 to 51 trillion pieces, weighing between 93,000 and 236,000 metric tons.

That’s how much plastic we’re tossing into the oceans every year! University of Georgia environmental engineer Jenna Jambeck says it’s enough to line up five grocery bags of trash on every foot of coastline in the world.

Fiona Harvey, Environmental Correspondent of the Guardian Newspaper wrote;       

Fiona Harvey

Fish may be actively seeking out plastic debris in the oceans as the tiny pieces appear to smell similar to their natural prey, new research suggests. The fish confuse plastic for an edible substance because microplastics in the oceans pick up a covering of biological material, such as algae, that mimics the smell of food, according to the study published on Wednesday in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Scientists presented schools of wild-caught anchovies with plastic debris taken from the oceans, and with clean pieces of plastic that had never been in the ocean. The anchovies responded to the odours of the ocean debris in the same way as they do to the odours of the food they seek.

Plastic ingested by fish

The scientists said this was the first behavioural evidence that the chemical signature of plastic debris was attractive to a marine organism, and reinforces other work suggesting the odour could be significant.  The finding demonstrates an additional danger of plastic in the oceans, as it suggests that fish are not just ingesting the tiny pieces by accident, but actively seeking them out.

Daniel Stone of Newsweek wrote;

Since the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the world’s biggest communal garbage dump, was discovered swirling about 1,000 miles north of Hawaii in 1997, scientists and environmentalists have dared to dream if a cleanup might be possible. Consisting of an estimated 3.5 million tons of trash and scattered over an area roughly the size of the continental United States, the garbage comes from countries all over the world, most of it flushed through waterways leading to the ocean. Once there, the Pacific gyre (a rotating system of ocean currents) traps the trash in its final resting place, where it has gathered with debris from ships and fishermen, and wreaked havoc on fish and seabirds.

The Billions of Dollars we are paying experts to implicate man, despite the growing number who consider it to be natural, in global warming, should be diverted towards addressing the real problem and that is to limit the dumping of plastic waste into our oceans or burying it in landfill. Governments should get involved and encourage Plastic to Oil machinery (above left) to be installed in all major waste dumps and the oil could then be sold back to industry. Better value for the community than paying scientists to write up doomsday scenarios.

11 Responses to “FROM PLASTIC GARBAGE PATCH TO DINNER PLATE”

  1. Gilmour says:

    The Victorian government has announced it will ban single-use plastic bags from supermarkets around the state as soon as it can. Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews broke the news of the ban on prime time television last night, saying it was above all an environmental decision. “Victoria will ban single use plastic bags. It is only NSW and Western Australia that are still allowing them.They are definitely killing our marine life and maybe ourselves as well over time.

  2. Florida Mansions says:

    They say that the environment would be no better off because plastic to oil conversion would only produce more fossil fuel, which we are trying to limit, because its use increases global warming?
    Far better that our marine life choke to death and we are eventually banned from eating contaminated sea food….you know it makes sense!

  3. Macka says:

    To my mind, we avoid the most important point when we discuss pollution and the changing of climate in our environment. Is the increase in human population not the ugly truth, the elephant in the room, that every scientist avoids? Has anybody done comprehensive research in this field on its consequences? The answer is that they probably have but it is a too sensitive a subject to mention. You would think that all the outcomes they set for carbon reduction would have to be accompanied by a level of population control otherwise it is a waste of time.

    • Brooker says:

      Plastics have been a boon for man and it would be a different world without them but they are now poisoning our oceans and waterways and there is not much we can do about it except pretend it is not a problem. The garbage patch in the northern pacific is about the size of.Texas!
      I agree the world’s population is the elephant in the room..climate change is real but that it is the nature of our planet. President Trump does not believe the world is warming as it has been since the little ice age and will continue warm, to and beyond the period when the Vikings ran sheep. Then we had his predecessor Obama confirming that the debate is over and man is responsible.

      • Florida Mansions says:

        More than half a century ago, at the dawn of the nuclear age, Albert Einstein suggested that we would require a new manner of thinking if humankind were to survive. Even though the population explosion is neither as instantaneous nor as spectacular as its nuclear counterpart, the ultimate consequences may be just as real (and potentially just as devastating) as the so-called nuclear winter scenarios promulgated in the early 1980s or the anthropogenic world warming disaster, both scenarios predicted by the very same scientists, John Holdren and Paul Ehrlich.

  4. Utah says:

    The question is, how much longer is it going to be before we get rid of these junketeers on the gravy train and address the real problems of the world ….overpopulation and pollution.?
    The scientific elite are now saying we are responsible for all changes in climate…hence the new term Climate Change. They now want to associate man with the predominance of long periods of flat readings as well instead of the continuing upward trend you would expect if the world’s increasing carbon emissions were the cause of warming. Since 1940 we have had approximately 55 years of zero or below average global temperatures and about 22 years of increasing temperatures.

    • Bonzawright says:

      Absolutely, overpopulation and pollution go hand in hand. The politicians and the bureaucrats have put them in the too hard basket and are now having two bob each way by focusing on our chaotic climate which they say is warming as it has been for the last 300 years. It is not just plastics in the food chain that we should be concerned about it is also heavy metals such as lead, mercury, industrial effluents and goodness knows what else that finishes up in our oceans.

      • Countdown says:

        The grandchildren’s grandchildren’s grandchildren will adapt to the future warming of the earth but they may not get to be around if we don’t start doing something about pollution and overpopulation now. A reporter had asked a scientist at the 2015 Paris conference and got this reply;
        “Scientists have definitely not been ignoring the problem of population growth with regard to climate change”. “The Worldwatch Institute has looked extensively at the topic and concluded, the growth of population is a major factor behind climate change today”.
        However it was not even on the agenda at the conference.

  5. Chaucer Maxwell says:

    It is a lose-lose situation with the way we handle plastic, (the 70% that doesn’t wind up in the ocean), its manufacture requires so much energy from fossil fuels, let alone the amount needed for conversion to oil, and in addition its slow decomposition produces more carbon emissions along with some nasty toxic gases, such as methane which is twenty times stronger than carbon dioxide and a significant portion of all emissions from landfill.

  6. Davenport Tazzy says:

    They say there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050 (by weight) which is not a good prospect. The dehydration sales con by these bottled water suppliers has contributed to it. I think putting a price on all plastic containers, sufficient to make it pay for collectors, might help slow the rate of pollution.

  7. Tempura says:

    There is not much data available in regard to what effect they have on human health. We have been either eating or inhaling them for many years without any concern but no one has identified exactly what effect they will have long term.

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