The Problem with Floating Trash Barges



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You might ask, "What is a floating trash barge?". Well a floating trash barges are big areas of trash in the ocean that have not been broken down (mainly because it is made up of mostly plastic. The size of these "floating trash barges" are about twice the size of the state of Texas! Imagine that, a landfill TWICE the size of one of the biggest states of the U.S! And who is contributing to this marine catastrophe? Its us, every time we throw away a plastic bottle into a trash bin, it goes to the dump, and eventually the plastic bottle gets blown into the Pacific Ocean. This bottle will never brake down because plastic does not biodegrade, it photo-degrades (meaning it breaks up into particles that still resemble itself) . So when 100,000 people do this they are sending 100,000 more bottles into this gigantic ball of garbage and it will never go away, also another thing contributing to this is the run off from big storms which sends trash far in to the ocean and thus contributing to the ever growing trash in the ocean. The trash will just be sitting there in the ocean just getting bigger and bigger, and we will begin to see its effect if we don't do anything about it, because currents in the ocean are moving it around the Pacific. I feel that we should do something about it because I care about our marine ecosystems because they are essential to our survival of our own species as well as other species. I want my children and my children's children to enjoy the biodiversity we have today. So Im asking "Do you want to make a difference?"

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Picture of "Floating Trash in Pacific"




Comments from Ms. Y:
Max-This is an excellent start! The first graphic you've included is very clear and sets the stage for your discussion of this issue. Your video is also a great addition and effectively explains the problem with plastics in the ocean. I did have a few questions about your Introduction paragraph.
1) You say that people throw their plastic bottles away they go to the dump. But then later you speak as if these (100,000) bottles are all going into the ocean as part of the trash barge. Is this accurate? Most of our trash that is properly disposed of gets buried in the landfill, although some does blow into the ocean. Also you mention that plastic photodegrades. Does this process happen once buried? (if not, what are the issues with that fact?)
2) I'm also not clear on what you hope to do with this project. I'm sure you want to learn more because you care. But what do you envision you'll do with this info? Do you have a goal after you've learned this info?
3) Lastly, depending on what we do with these wikis, you might want to go back and revise Intro in terms of grammar and typos. I can help you if you'd like.


Research

Are There Really 'Continents' of Floating Garbage?

URL:http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2007/12/are-there-reall.html

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Trash Patterns in Pacific

Summary
This articles shows the severity of the problem with the floating trash barges in the Pacific, it shows how big these "plastic soups" really are and what they really are. This article also shows how these plastic soups are killing marine life in a vicious cycle, which is known as "ghost fishing" as it just goes on and on. It also shows how we could minamize this problem by recycling more often and reduce buying products with plastic wrappings and other items contain plastic so it does not add to those gigantic "plastic continents".

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trash being washed up on shores from trash vortex in Pacific
Reflection
I was really shocked how these plastic continents are killing marine life and ecosystems. The process of how the sea gulls go eat the plastic in the ocean mistaking for plankton and it not only eats it, it regergitates into it's children, which kills the whole family. And this process is repeated and repeated creating a dangerous cycle for sea birds in the pacific. This really shows our impact on the earth, and it is right in front of us.

Further Questions

1. Why are more and more birds getting caught into this vicious cycle called "ghost fishing?" Is it because more and more plastic is entering the ocean and it is mistaken for fish eggs and plankton to these birds?

2. Why is this problem almost at the point of not being able to stop it? Is it because people are not being informed about this problem?


Pacific Trash Vortex Could Signify Future of Our Oceans

URL:http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/04/pacific-trash-vortex-signifies-future-of-oceans.php

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Summary
This is mainly about how this floating trash is affecting ecosystems in the pacific oceans, it also shows what can happen if we don't stop this problem or at least reduce this problem. It says that if we don't reduce our use of plastics we will be finding our own trash on our plate if you eat seafood. Because when marine life such as the smaller fish, eat the plastic which they mistake is plankton and other microorganisms they are eaten by the fish we eat and it goes up and up to it finally ends at us (the top of the food chain). This is hazardous to our health and will threaten the seafood business and will affect economies and our own health around the world.

Reflection
This article has shown me how really serious this problem really is. Not only the ecosystems and all the marine life in the pacific ocean will be drastically affected but our very own way of life we will be severely impacted, because we are simply on top of the food chain, everything the fish eat, we eat. So think about it, "Do you really want to eat your own trash?"

Further Questions
1. Why aren't more countries doing more for this problem when it is going to affect them dramatically? Maybe because they don't realize it is a problem because this problem will affect them in the long-term and not the short-term.

2. Why do fish and marine animals mistake plastic for fish eggs, plankton, etc? Maybe because since the plastic photogrades into tiny particles the fish and marine animals can't tell what it is and are tricked and eat it thinking it is plankton or microorganisms.


"Garbage Island"



Summary
This video clip is about the floating trash in the Pacific ocean, it shows how we are contributing to this problem such as using plastics and disposing them incorrectly, which helps the problem get even worse because more and more plastic items are arriving into the ocean. It also shows the ratio of plastic to plankton which in some tests were 7-1 of, and some of tests were even 1000-1! This shows the overwhelming amount of plastic is in the pacific ocean. It also shows the health problems it can give us from consuming the fish that come from the pacific which were diabetes, liver problems, and in some places like Japan some inpragnanted women who consumed a fish from the pacific never had a successful delivery.

Reflection
I found this information was shocking, I mean all those health risks that we are creating! That is amazing how fast and how bad we humans have impacted the earths oceans. We only had invented plastic in 1862 and we managed to make a continent of it in a century! We are destroying ecosystems, destroying the beauty of our oceans and we are eventually destroying ourselves.

Further Questions
1. How are the plastic items arriving from the landfills to the oceans? Maybe because they weren't burried properly or they were simply washed in by runoff caused by storms and rain.

2. Where is this trash going to end up? Maybe wash up on beaches on islands and continents which will alter ecosystems all over the Pacific.


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Ocean Surface Current Simulator (OSCURS) model developed by W James Ingraham Jr., an oceanographer at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), predicts the trajectory of drift originating along the coasts of the North Pacific rim. Drift from Japan is shown in red; drift from the United States, in blue. The diagrams show the position of drift after 183 days (left), three years (center), and ten years (right).

"Trashed"

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URL:http://www.mindfully.org/Plastic/Ocean/Moore-Trashed-PacificNov03.htm

Summary
This article shows the findings of Charles Moore (started the Charles Moore Foundation) on his travel through the pacific and through the floating trash. It showed how the plastic photodegrades and not biodgrades. Photodegrading is the process in which an object breaks down in sunlight and breaks down into tiny pieces that still resemble itself. This is a problem because when the plastic ends up into the ocean it just doesn't dissapear it stays there and pollutes the ocean and releases toxins that are poisonous to marine life.

Reflection
This article has shown me the devastating affects of plastic in the ocean, and how it just doesn't disappear but stays there and kills marine life and pollutes the ocean. It made me realize that out plastic influenced generation is altering ecosystems in the Pacific dramatically, and it is causing more marine life to become endangered or extinct. We need to realize what we are doing to the environment when we throw away plastic in the garbage, we need to know that it may end up in an ocean and possibably into marine animals.

Further Questions
1. How can we reduce our need for using plastic? Maybe by using alternatives like tote bags instead of plastic bags when you are out for grocery shopping.

2. Does plastic photodegrade in landfills? Maybe it doesn't because it requires sunlight to break it down, so maybe it doesn't photodegerade in landfills

"North Pacific Gyre"



Summary
This short video clip was about how the currents move the continents of the "floating trash" around the North Pacific Gyre. This area of the pacific ocean borders Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan and the Philippines. These countries are severely impacted by these "floating trash barges" because the currents in the North Pacific Gyre are pushing the trash onto the shorelines of these countries which are altering ecosystems not only in the ocean but the land as well.

Reflection
I found this video was quite informing on how the currents "push" the trash continents around the pacific by showing examples of shorelines around the North Pacific Gyre. And showing the products that are on the shores which resembled products that from countries around them such as japanese bottles, products that had chinese characters on them, etc. I was really scared to think that these enormous trash continents in the future could wash up on our own shores and causing mass extinctions on the land and sea.

Further Questions
1. What are the effects of trash being washed onto shores? Maybe it will further the process of "ghost fishing" which is when plastics enter the food chain of sea birds and marine life and impacts them drastically because the plastics contain toxins that poison marine life, and when birds are introduced to this they give the food they eat to their children and thus affecting the next generation of birds.

2. What can we do to stop these future catastrophes? Maybe by reducing our use of plastics and being more responsible of where we dispose our plastics so we do not contribute to these plastic continents.



Interview

Barbara Mayor
Punahou School
title: Floating Barges
Date of Interview: November 4th 2008, 12:30 PM

Interview questions (Barbara Mayor

1. What compelled you to become active about this issue?

2. Can this problem be solved?

3. Have you ever been to one of these "garbage islands?

4. How did you feel when you saw one of these "garbage islands"?

5. What could be done to clean up these garbage patches in the Pacific Ocean?

6. What could happen in 10 years if we did nothing about these garbage patches?

7.What is your opinion about these garbage islands?

8. What could the people do to help reduce these garbage islands?

9. Does plastic photo-degrade if it is buried under soil?

10. Why doesn't more people know about this problem? What could be the effects if less people knew about this problem?


Actual Interview

Action Plan

My action plan to help alleviate this problem is to educate the people in my class and the people around my community (such as the people in my church). I will do this by showing them key points of videos of the plastic garbage in the pacific ocean and create a powerpoint to convince them to not consume as much plastic items such as water bottles and and other disposable plastics. I will show them pictures of animals that have died because of the plastic in their ecosystems such as the albatross infested with plastic items like lighters, toothbrushes, etc. After I have educated the people, I will tell them to take action by informing them to buy less things that have too much plastic packaging and to spread the word because it takes more than just a group of people to change something, it will take everyone on this island to do their part and change so that this problem can be more controllable. And possibly we can take this to a even bigger level and go to companies and educate them on the problem (the garbage in the pacific ocean) and convince them to use less plastic packaging. This will hopefully reduce the plastic in the pacific and help alleviate the problem.


This is my powerpoint that I used to help execute my action plan by educating people about this problem. This tool of knowledge will hopefully help reduce the size of the floating trash in the pacific with more people not adding to the problem with them recycling, reducing and reusing more.

Final Comments:
Max- You have done outstanding work throughout this project! I am so impressed with the quality of your work, your interest in doing well, your presentation of what you have learned, and your implementation of your Action Plan. I wish I could have been there to see you do your powerpoint in church (I would have been proud for sure!). I hope you are happy with your work and that you have gained some new insights into this topic. It is an important one that is essentially "hidden" since so few of us ever go to the middle of the oceans. It is my hope that with students hearing your talk and along with other related topics that some may sink in and that perhaps they will think more about their purchases and choices and maybe even change their behavior. Keep me posted if you ever take this further. Nice job!!!