Wednesday, November 11, 2009

That silly continent of trash

I just want to follow up on what the news from the North Pacific Gyre garbage "patch." As we've posted here a few times before, a raft of garbage twice the size of the state of Texas swirls in the Pacific Ocean. Innumerable organisms live, feed, and breed there and are affected by the consequences of our actions every day. They are "externalities" to our economy and its waste stream or, in a less pleasant term, "collateral damage" to "business as usual."

The New York Times has a good piece up on it called "Afloat in the Ocean, Expanding Islands of Trash." It's a solid piece that will fill in what we've learned here. Not to make that silly little garbage landscape feel alone:
Scientists say the garbage patch is just one of five that may be caught in giant gyres scattered around the world’s oceans. Abandoned fishing gear like buoys, fishing line and nets account for some of the waste, but other items come from land after washing into storm drains and out to sea.

I know that sometimes we are faced with insurmountable circumstances and wonder, "How will nature survive?" This is a good question and it indicates our ecological consciousness. But we should also note that non-human life adapts. Consider the Trigger Fish that has used a caulking tube for its habitat. It lives now.

But will it thrive? Can it sustain?

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