On Monday (Sept. 7) the oceanographic research vessel Alguita embarked on a 10th anniversary voyage to retrace its first trip to study plastic pollution in the Pacific Ocean. Specifically the course heads for “the great Pacific garbage patch” described in my Ocean Conservancy calendar as “A giant floating ‘continent’ of garbage, twice the size of Texas.”
Apparently it was during Captain Charles Moore’s Pacific Ocean crossing after the Transpacific Yacht Race in 1997 when he was heading back to California from Hawaii that he had the disturbing intersection with what ABC News subsequently described as 3.5 million tons of trash that is 80 percent plastic.
Captain Moore founded the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, which owns the ORV Alguita, and has ever since surrendered his time and resources to examining the impact of this massive floating swill, increasing awareness about it, and figuring out how to get rid of it. A July 2008 Discover magazine article described how in this particular area of the Pacific there is a series of currents several thousand miles wide that swirl together ensnaring trash and debris from North America, Asia and the Hawaiian Islands. The tricky part, as far as funding research and assigning cleanup dollars, is that the open ocean waters of the world are a difficult place to justify government spending.
I confess I had never heard about this huge floating garbage patch before. It makes me realize that we should be continuously promoting and adding to our Soundview Business of Green collection to give people access to information about sustainability and responsible business practices. Two other important books that we have summarized, Saving the World at Work and The Necessary Revolution shout out the importance of being environmentally responsible at work and home.
With fresh summer memories typically embracing a waterview that we choose to savor until next year, this topic captures another picture we shouldn’t quickly forget.