REBOL Technologies

The Plastic Vortex

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
4-Aug-2009 0:37 GMT

Article #0416
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A few years ago while cruising across the Caribbean ocean, I happened to notice quite a lot of trash floating along those trade routes. I asked around, but no one seemed to know its source, nor did they care.

Last spring, while visiting Honolulu for a few days, I noticed similar trash in its harbor areas. A huge mess of plastic bottles and other garbage. I asked around, but no one knew its source, or seemed to care.

Today, in our local newspaper, a story appeared: "Ukiahi student Ryan Morris is embarking on a 25-day expedition to help scientists study the "Plastic Vortex" a vast swirl of waste that's situated to the North East of Hawaii."

Googling around the net, I found only a few small stories on this topic, nothing from major news source, universities, or governmental agencies. In fact, most of the hits were blogs. So, it looks like not very many people really care.

Over time, with the sun's ultraviolet rays, the plastic deteriorates into smaller pieces and becomes mixed with the seawater:

Plastic fragments mixed with seawater (magnified)

Looking around at what was available, I found these links to be informative:

Watch the video in the first link. It's a good one.

Generally, as a "scientist against waste", I find this situation rather alarming. So, that's why I'm mentioning it here. Just to raise the awareness level. It will be interesting to see if this story gains some momentum in the months ahead.

Oh, and you might also find it just a bit ironic that our local recycling center shut down last month. It wasn't profitable.

With what I've seen over the last couple years... I've concluded that "green" is just the color of money. If you think otherwise, just look a bit closer.

When I was 5 years old, I used to walk to the market with a bag of bottles... to get some money, to buy some candy (what else?).

Over the years, all that's changed. That simple, easy to understand system of deposit and refund is gone. Sure, we still pay the "deposit" when we buy products in bottles, but just try to get the store to refund your deposit these days. Yep, we're going backwards.

Just thought I'd mention it.

Update

Many more links have appeared on the net since I originally wrote this blog. For example, Time has a recent story on it. Several research vessels have recently sailed to more closely study the problem. I expect we're going to hear a lot more about it very soon.

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