The Plastic Patch No More

By January 24, 2011Ocean News

Over the past few years, many people have been under the impression that there is a large matt of plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean (around Midway Island) that is the size of the state of Texas, USA, or possible double that size. Well, according to Dr. Angel White, a microbiologist at Oregon State University who was interviewed by The Benshi.com, there is no plastic patch in the Pacific Ocean. Is she denying the presence of plastic in the Ocean? Absolutely not! However, she is saying much of the plastic is present in few small particles and scattered across the Ocean. Dr. White participated on a research cruise to the so called plastic patch in 2008 to discover there was no patch the size of Texas, but a number of sites produced trawls of small plastic particles. The plastic in this small form still poses a problem to animals who ingest it and choke and water quality as pollution increases as the toxic plastic breaks down in the Ocean.

We should also realize the potential problem we will face in the future as our daily lives are encapsulated in plastic material. Small plastic particles are light in weight and can travel quite a distance in Ocean currents. The increase of plastic influx into our waterways leading to our Oceans can lead to a catastrophic problem in the future as today, millions of species die every year due to plastic ingestion and scientists are still studying the effects plastic has on water quality. So how did the plastic patch come to life?

Bill Maher talked about it on his 2009 HBO show and Oprah mentioned it on her website which states: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch stretches from the coast of California to Japan, and it’s estimated to be twice the size of Texas. “This is the most shocking thing I have seen,” Oprah says. As Randy Olson states on in the article, he statement is wrong on so many levels (visit the article to find out why).

So why was the Plastic Patch mentioned in the first place? I can understand the term would catch people’s attention and allow people to focus on the issue, but people were going to find out the truth at some point and time and I am sure they would not like to find out they were deceived. Perhaps the people responsible felt is would get more attention if they called in a patch rather than specs scattered around the Ocean. Industry have been using this type of marketing for decades, although many of the industries are not liked much for their lack of accounting for environmental care. It is important that Leaders perpetuating messages maintain credibility and integrity and always tell the truth even though people may not listen right away. Once an Ocean Leader losses credibility, he/she loses trust and no one will listen to their message.

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