Ignored by humans for decades of years, garbage floating on the ocean has become a trash island. The island consists of plastic bags, cans, tires and other plastic debris. The worse thing is that the trash island is still growing. The seawater in the center of Subtropical Airflow of pacific flows extremely slowly, with the addition of weather patterns, a large amount of garbage gather in this place. Year after year, a trash island has formed, which was called “the eighth continent”. It consists of four million tons of pelagic plastics, chemical sludge, and other debris, researchers estimate island area may be twice the size of Texas! (Wikipedia.com)
The floating debris can absorb organic pollutants from seawater, and then such debris can be ingested by small fish, which are then eaten by larger fish. Many of these fish are then consumed by humans, resulting in their ingestion of toxic chemicals. (Ballard 2004). Therefore, human life will be threatened by this situation. What should be done to reduce the amount of pollution and garbage building up on trash islands? It is undeniable we should take this problem seriously; otherwise humans will be faced with disaster.
After realized how urgent we should clean the trash island, humans did a lot of work, try to diminish it. Once it was a project called “Project Kaisei”, which devoted to study the ways of cleaning up the trash island. According to the material, in 2009, Project Kaisei embarked on its first expedition to the Pacific Patch. There are two vessels in this trip, one is the “Kaisei”, and the other is the “New Horizon”. Each research vessel had a crew of scientists and volunteers on board in order to research the effects that might be occurring as a result of the large amounts of floating debris in this area of ocean.
Investigation was carried out for material science, toxicity, invasive species, ecosystem impact and new catch methods to develop ways for removing some of the debris in the future in a larger scale.(projectkaisei.org). Similar projects are taken; scientists and government are trying to find ways to recycle plastic wastes. Project Kaisei drawn out a plan to save the ocean, which will raise about 200 million dollars in the next 18 month, then it will clean up more than 400,000 tons of garbage; those garbage can be decomposed as fuel.
The Kaisei Project indeed got a good return, basically it clean up part of the island, however, the island is still growing because those factories never stop dumping plastic waste into the ocean.
Take the real situation into consideration, I think the best strategy we should do is to avoid the island growing bigger. Charles Moore, who firstly found “the eighth continent”, said even cost all the country’s financial resources, and killed a large number of wildlife, it is impossible to clean up the whole trash island in the Pacific Ocean. (Earth Island Journal, 2010).
The technology may not be advanced so much that we can’t clean up the whole island at present; moreover, the costs have far exceeded the benefits. I believe we should develop the technology firstly and seek out the most effective and economical process to recycle and resolve the trash. On the other hand, we can take other actions to prevent more debris from inflowing the ocean. And the costs will be much lower than cleaning the island up. Unquestionably the garbage island is a serious issue that worth to think. Prevention may not solve the problem once for all, but it can avoid it getting worse. And it is practical and workable, has a chance to be enacted.
Government can encourage entrepreneur to develop green industry; policy can be carried out to close those factories which had high pollution productive process. Research and development department has the ability to improve technology, as a result, the discharge of pollutant will be reduced and eliminated.
Communities can contribute by lobbying companies to find environmentally safe alternatives to plastic and formulate reusable packaging. “International treaties prohibiting dumping at sea must also be enforced, such as prohibiting sewage from being allowed to flow into the ocean, or eliminating the use of plastic bags”(Silverman, 2007). Factories can find a way to reduce the discharge of plastic waste, or they can stop dumping the wasted into the ocean; there must be approach to resolve the waste rather than simply discard them to the sea. With all efforts, the trash island will not bigger any more.
Beyond this, our individual should stop dumping plastic wastes into the sea. As an article said, about 80% of the debris comes from land, much of which is plastic bags, bottles and other consumer products as wind “blows plastic rubbish out of littered streets and landfills where it gets into rivers and storm drains before riding the tides and currents out to sea” (Grant, 2009). Some tourists always think the ocean is “a big trash dustbin”, they enjoy the scenery as well as drop the trash unconsciously. Environmental protection advertisement, public announcement and collection can be made to wake up the awareness of environmental protection from human.
Although it’s hard to persuade those factories to close down their pollution business, the policies still need to be put into effect. It is indeed the most helpful approach to prevent the trash island grow up. At the national level in the United States, authorities like the Clean Water Act, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, and the Pollution Prevention Act of 1990 do not specifically mention marine debris, but include standards applicable to the control of land based sources of marine debris (Interagency 2008). The most important thing is, such management can heighten human’s awareness of protecting environmental, constant dropping wears the stone, I believe it will lead a right direction.
If we can change our habits, the trash island will not grow. “Ultimately more plastic recycling and wider use of biodegradable materials is the best hope for controlling these garbage patches” (McLendon, 2010). Without global effort, we cannot successfully control the situation and protect the ocean environment; marine animals and human’s life will be at risk. Changes and actions need to be made, thus we can fix the problem and prevent it from occurring again. In conclusion, reduction of sources and international collaboration for cleanup is the most efficient way to reduce the expansion of the trash island.
“Project Kaisei – Capturing the Plastic Vortex.” Project Kaisei – Capturing the Plastic Vortex. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. Ballard, K. ―The importance and conservation of Biomes.‖ University of California. (2004) “Great Pacific Garbage Patch. “Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch>. Captain Charles Moore. Earth Island Journal, Aug. 2009. Web. 05 Dec. 2012. Silverman,J.(2007,September 19).Why is the World’s Biggest Land fill in the Pacific Ocean Retrieved February13,2012,from HowStuffWorks: http://science.howstuffworks.com/environmental/earth/oceanography/greatYpacificYgarbageYpatch3.html Grant, R.(2009,April 24).Drowning in plastic: The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is twice the size of France.The’Telegraph . Interagency Report on Marine Debris Sources, Impacts, Strategies and Recommendations. Interagency marine debris coordinating committee (2008) McLendon,R.(2010,February 24).What’is’the’Great’Pacific’Garbage’Patch? Retrieved February 13, 2012,from Mother Nature Network: http://www.mnn.com/earthYmatters/translatingYuncleYsam/stories/whatYisYtheYgreatYpacificYoceanYgarbageYpatch