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Garbage On The Garbage Patch

May 22, 2012

Here’s a classic example of a completely failed, even fraudulent, attempt at counterintuitive journalism, courtesy of Gawker: “Lies You’ve Been Told About The Pacific Garbage Patch.”

Hmm, how do the editors deliver on that eyeball-grabbing, page-view-seeking, “lies” headline? Well, the easiest way, it seems, is to create a series of straw men, then knock them down and call them “lies.”

Like: this picture was not actually taken in the middle of the Pacific. Wow, really?

And: there is not actually a solid island of garbage in the Pacific, just an area with lots and lots of pieces of plastic. Phew, glad we got that straight.

And: all that plastic is not killing every marine species out there, just some. Thanks, that’s a relief.

Despite such distractions–denial-mongering in search of chump change–the real news rolls on:

(CNN) — A marine expedition of environmentalists has confirmed the bad news it feared — the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” extends even further than previously known.

Organized by two non-profit groups — the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and the 5 Gyres Institute — the expedition is sailing from the Marshall Islands to Japan through a “synthetic soup” of plastic in the North Pacific Ocean on a 72-feet yacht called the Sea Dragon, provided by Pangaea Exploration

[snip]…Leading the expedition is Marcus Eriksen, a former U.S. marine and Ph.D student from University of Southern California. “We’ve been finding lots of micro plastics, all the size of a grain of rice or a small marble,” Eriksen said via satellite phone. “We drag our nets and come up with a small handful, like confetti — 10, 20, 30 fragments at a time. That’s how it’s been, every trawl we’ve done for the last thousand miles.”

Eriksen, who has sailed through all five gyres, said this confirmed for him “that the world’s oceans are ‘plasticized.’ Everywhere you go in the ocean, you’re going to find this plastic waste.”

“Will someone please be sure to mail my carcass to Gawker?”

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