29 Mar
Charles Moore draws attention to the growing, choking problem of plastic debris in our seas for TED

We touched on this epic plastic dilemma facing the Planet Earth a couple years back when we covered photographer Chris Jordan’s Midway: Message from the Gyre in 2009, but it doesn’t get any less scary. We have a serious, serious fucked up problem with our consumption of plastics, and if nothing changes we can just notch one other way in which the human race will destroy itself. We consume between 500 billion and a trillion plastic bags worldwide each year, with less than 1% of these bags recycled. In the US alone, we consume 60 million plastic bottles per day. Of course, where does it end up? Once in our oceans, the plastics enter the various currents and in the West Coast eventually make their way to the North Pacific Gyre, one of five in the world. Among the victims of this plastic mass floating in the ocean are albatross who eat the plastics mistaking it for food — fed on this diet of debris, over 100,000 birds die from starvation, toxicity, and choking every year (see image above). Of course the impact is much greater than simply affecting birds — in areas of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the mass of plastic debris is more than 6 times that of plankton. As the lowest tiny fish in our food chain begin to die off from toxicity, you can do the math. To get some grasp of the epidemic at hand, watch the TED discussion below by Captain Charles Moore of the Algalita Marine Research Foundation, the man who first discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Maybe we should just think twice before bagging that pack of gum or smokes the next time we stop at the Circle K…

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