One of the things I learned from reading about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is that it’s not really visible to the naked eye. The first time I heard it described I thought it was a giant mass you could see, and maybe even walk on. It turns out it’s billions of tiny pieces of plastic suspended in the warm waters of the Pacific. Plastic doesn’t decompose back into organic matter, it simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces. These pieces end up in the ocean where they are consumed by fish, sometimes accidentally just because their mouths are open, and sometimes intentionally because the color of the plastic is the same color as their preferred dinner.
Plastic Ocean is by the man responsible for discovering the garbage patch. If you want to know more about the environmental impact of a half-century of plastic production, this book is a great place to start.
From the publisher’s book description —
“A prominent seafaring environmentalist and researcher shares his shocking discovery of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the Pacific Ocean, and inspires a fundamental rethinking of the Plastic Age and a growing global health crisis.
“In the summer of 1997, Charles Moore set sail from Honolulu with the sole intention of returning home after competing in a trans-Pacific race. To get to California, he and his crew took a shortcut through the seldom-traversed North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, a vast “oceanic desert” where winds are slack and sailing ships languish. There, Moore realized his catamaran was surrounded by a “plastic soup.” He had stumbled upon the largest garbage dump on the planet-a spiral nebula where plastic outweighed zooplankton, the ocean’s food base, by a factor of six to one.
“In Plastic Ocean, Moore recounts his ominous findings and unveils the secret life and hidden properties of plastics. From milk jugs to polymer molecules small enough to penetrate human skin or be unknowingly inhaled, plastic is now suspected of contributing to a host of ailments including infertility, autism, thyroid dysfunction, and some cancers. A call to action as urgent as Rachel Carson’s seminal Silent Spring, Moore’s sobering revelations will be embraced by activists, concerned parents, and seafaring enthusiasts concerned about the deadly impact and implications of this man made blight.”