KUCB KIAL Unalaska Community Broadcasting

The Great Garbage Patch Disaster

May 26, 2017

What comes to mind when you hear the words The Great Pacific Garbage Patch?  Maybe a big dump yard in the middle of nowhere, or littering on the roadsides. When I first heard of this in 2008, I didn't think much of it because I had lived in Colorado where we don't have beaches. The closest thing to a beach that we had was the wave pool at Water World. The Great Pacific garbage patch is a enormous island of complete trash, mostly made up of plastic floating around the oceans of the world leaving behind little fragments of the garbage that got blown off.

The first discovery of this trash island was in 2003, when Captain Charles Moore took a shortcut through the gyre located North Atlantic Ocean. In his interview he states, “I looked as far as the eye could see, and all was plastic. I tried to look for a clear spot, but couldn't find one.”

Most people think these garbage patches are islands with trash covering (which is equally horrifying), but these islands are literally micro plastics that break down from the plastics that are thrown in the ocean, combined together with the other trash we pollute; you can't see micro plastics with the naked eye, but bunched together you can definitely tell they are there along with the other trash we pollute the water with.  Statistics show that 20% of the debris that ends up in the ocean is from boaters. Studies show when they are in a storm they lose some cargo. For example, in 2012, a couple reported finding a pair of Nike sneakers as well as a pair of boots. That's only the 20% that floats, however; some other 70% actually sinks to the bottom of the ocean making it hard for marine life to survive. In other studies scientists show that 80% of the debris in the ocean actually comes from land activities like smoking, or eating food in a park.

If the algae and plankton communities are threatened in any way, the whole entire food web may change in an instant. For example, on some islands in the Pacific Oceans, there have been reports of the communities not being able to eat the fish they catch, because when put through the processing machines and such, there are tiny pieces of plastic still in the fish. One study showed that when the fish was opened a worker found a plastic bag blocking the airway of the fish. Most of the trash in the oceans are mistaken for food by the marine life, thus, showing how pollution is affecting marine life as we speak.

Climate change is not a hoax, and pollution is proving everyone who thinks that it is a hoax, that it is in fact real. Polluting more water just makes it harder for the ocean to regulate Earth's temperature. For example, the ocean current acts like a conveyer belt moving all of the warm water and precipitation to the colds like Antarctica, and the cold water back down to the tropics. When the warm water is spread at the wrong time to the wrong place, climate change comes into play. This goes along with President Donald Trump's agreement to let major companies pollute in the ocean because Donald Trump believes climate change is a hoax. But the facts are climate change is real, when the icebergs and glaciers break off the ocean can rise up to 6.6 feet each year. Some people may think “oh the ocean will rise oh well.” This also showing that the water temperature rising will rise causing the Great Barrier Reef to die off. Along with the Great Barrier Reef all the marine life is at risk of dying off.

In reaction, no country or government system is willing to help support the necessary funding we need to remove this patch. Considering why they won't, I do understand that because removing this hunk of garbage from the ocean would cause any country to go bankrupt. As I see it, we have two options: we can choose to let this garbage to possibly kill off an entire race, or we can all come together as a world and pitch in money to remove this atrocity piece of trash, as well as hire volunteers to go out and start cleaning.

If you're on the side saying it's just trash, think about this: Do you like fish? Do you like kayaking or canoeing? Would you want the ocean to sit in silence while we are killing it and ourselves? Would you want to be able to walk across the ocean on complete garbage? Take a minute and think about how cute dolphins are. Or how freaking cute polar bears are. Almost all fishing jobs will plummet down by the millions. Do we really want them to be extinct? I mean we can all stop pollution we all know and will learn about how plastic is not biodegradable. When can we all stand up and say this isn't okay.  I know you may think that this isn't a big deal, but when the reefs break and die and when the ocean claims more land for itself we are going to stop and realize that now it is too late to do anything about it.

  

In my opinion, the ocean is a privilege that we are slowly losing sight of. Personally I love the ocean; every weekend I go down to the beach and climb on the rocks and take picture with the ocean. I grab the starfish and hold them until I feel ready to put them back in THEIR home. When I go around town and see what people have done to the ocean I get frustrated because it's not like we have a reset button we can use at our disposal. Once we have done the damage, depending on how far we let this roll out, we won't have the option to turn back like we do today. I don't see why people

can't just hold onto their trash until they leave and put it in the trash can. I understand that you don't want your car to be dirty or that it could get in your backpack; but that's okay!

All you need to do is clean out your car or put your backpack in the washer! Isn't that crazy we have ways to clean up after ourselves? So when you're out and about if it's on a hike or going to school/ work, if you see trash pick it up. It doesn't matter if you live somewhere that doesn't have a beach or somewhere on the beach. The trash can eventually make its way to the ocean creating a garbage patch. This disaster is affecting our whole world. Personally, I don't like fish, but I love the time I spend with my six year old brother and my dad in Estes Park, Colorado fishing with them. I don't want my brother to finally catch a fish and have there be plastic or oil in or on it.  We only have one shot at this so let's make it right and stop polluting!