Each year around the world, producing 100 million tons of plastics. A 10% end in the sea. So it has come to form the so-called trash vortex (vortex of trash), an area of 700 square kilometers located between the U.S. and Japan, and that can have an average of 334,000 pieces of debris per square kilometer.
This immense mass of waste was discovered in 1997 by researcher Charles Moore when he returned from a sailing race in Hawaii. “Every time I climbed on deck to survey the horizon, he saw a bottle of soap, a bottle cap or a piece of plastic floating” was at that time. “Here I was in the middle of the ocean and there was no place you could go that did not have plastic.”
It was he who announced to the scientific world on the six kilos of plastic waste that could be found in the North Pacific for every kilo of plankton, the staple food of many marine organisms.
The so-called soup floating covers 800 miles of the coast of California, around Hawaii, and reaches almost to Japan. “Plastics absorb pollutants and release chemicals that end up in the fish we eat,” the scientist told Marcus Eriksen, Marine Research Center Algalita.
This institution, founded by Charles Moore, conducted in 2008 a study that found that of 671 fish analyzed, 35% were contaminated. Beyond that could pose danger to humans, have also found the bodies of birds that had a belly full of plastic bottle caps, toothbrushes, syringes remains and other non-biodegradable debris.
The problem, according to Moore, is that most plastic products are used once, and there is a good way to return the consumer to be recycled, so that these wastes can end up in the sea. This oceanographer explained how the ocean currents have caused over the years to focus on the North Pacific about 100 million tons of trash, or put another way, 2.5% of all plastic products have been built since 1950.
It is somewhat striking that 20% of the waste come from the same marine vessels that ply the seas while three of the countries of the waste generated in the North Pacific are Mexico, Australia and China, major consumers and producers waste.
Due to the salinity, temperature, and especially the lack of wind in the North Pacific has created an area where ocean currents have little movement. This area is called North Pacific Gyre, and is the largest of the top five that exist on the planet.
“The winds and currents tend to lead to the matter that floats on the water to the low energy central area of the whirlpool,” says Greenpeace. The plastic pieces gradually degrade in sunlight, they disintegrate into tiny pieces, and so end up in the stomachs of birds and all kinds of marine animals. The damage done to the marine ecosystem is immeasurable, while the UN released figures: each year, one million birds are killed and up to 100,000 marine animals try to swallow plastic waste.
Such an extension could be very striking garbage only the unaided eye, but the plastic is transparent and most of the waste is just below the surface, so the satellite photos show the horizon could not waste that covers the northern Pacific Ocean.
Solutions for now, there are none. The environmental impact is extraordinary, and should consider measures to reverse the long term to be sustainable. There are, however, some initiatives such as the Kaisei Project, which studies the detritus of the waste to assess the possibility of transforming them into some type of fuel.
This institution, together with other environmental organizations, warn of environmental damage that entails the existence of the island of garbage, but not shocking photos, and although it is perceived from the jungle. This is a real risk that is not excluded humans.