Thursday, May 15, 2014

Ocean floors are "covered in garbage"


Hey, it's me.  Your friendly neighborhood doom-monger.

Today, I'm here to tell you about yet one more way we're ruining the environment.  But Jon, you say, certainly you've mentioned them all by now?  Au contraire mon frere.  I'm afraid this is one area in which the human race is multi-talented.

The floors of our oceans are rapidly becoming garbage heaps.  That's what a recent survey from the University of the Azores indicates.  As stated at the io9 link:

"Litter accumulation in our marine environments is one of the fastest growing threats for the world's ocean health. We dump over 6.4 million tonnes of litter in the oceans each year — and the effects are serious."

In case you're wondering, said garbage consists mostly of plastic items such as bottles and bags.  The issue with plastic is not so much that it doesn't break down per se.  It's just that when it does, it fragments into particulate matter.  These tinier particles are then swallowed by fish and other sea life, often poisoning them.  This is to say nothing of the ripple effect when the various toxic chemicals of the trash seep into the water and soil of the oceans.

How does garbage end up all the way in the middle of the ocean and at the bottom of its greatest depths?  What, are there people constantly dumping from boats?  There are plenty of unscrupulous nations and organizations doing just that (check over at Greenpeace), but the study found that the majority of the plastic trash originated from coastlines.  In other words, people on a beach toss their garbage in the water (or carelessly lose sight of it) and it gets carried off to sea on the currents and eventually sinks to the bottom.  This leads to one other interesting point of the study and that is that the floating litter can lead to the transfer of invasive species to new habitats.

Great way to wreck an ecosystem.

I could swear we're having a contest with ourselves to see just how fast we can wipe ourselves out.  That's all right.  Once we're gone, the planet will move along just fine without us.

And yes, the link was yet another article from George Dvorsky.





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