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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The terrifying true story of the garbage that could kill the whole human race - how well do you know your Gyres?

Read the story below and find out one possible explanation as to why you have 50% less sperm than men in the 1950s and your #penis is likely to be at least 2 cm #smaller than your grandfathers!


"The terrifying true story of the garbage that could kill the whole human race"

It might be a sensational title - but, like the harbingers of doom over climate change or the heroic efforts of Emily Pankhurst et al to give women equal rights 100 years ago - sometimes you just have to make a claim or do something pretty drastic to grab the attention or at least provoke a response - and for thinking people some motivation to ask the question - is this the truth coming from the pen of a journalist like Clive James or just Daily Mail paranoia?

“Become mentally prepared, factual and thoughtful, about principles of human rights and sustainability. Become a force of greater persuasion. Choose justice, choose your army, find your students, know your enemy, and then prepare yourself with clenched fists."
Marcus Erikson 

The article, of course, begins at sea.....

"The ship plows on with groaning sails, with a heave and a shove, like a fat man shouldering through a crowd. The motion is surprisingly stop-and-go, without ever really stopping, or quite going. In the open cockpit we’ve just been holding on and talking about flotsam: things that find their way into the vastness of the seas, and float and float, and finally maybe wash ashore. Grimmest to be mentioned so far by my knowledgeable companion—trumping the foot in the boot—is the skeleton in the survival suit. Those are pearls that were his eyes! When we pause the conversation to climb up onto the pitching deck to launch the trawl, I’m keeping Mr. Bones in mind.
The Sea Dragon, a 72-foot round-the-world racing sloop, is all taut lines and cleats to trip on, and a fall overboard after dark would be a possible death sentence. You’d be a mote, a speck in the black night and wild seas.It’s the start of the graveyard watch—2 a.m. to 6—and most everyone’s asleep in their bunks, except the captain, who’s below in the green glow of the nav station plotting our course: a knight’s move, 1,200 miles east to the middle of the South Atlantic, then 800 miles north to Ascension Island. Above, out in the weather, it’s just Watch Team A: myself, young Emily from France, and the star of our show, Marcus Eriksen Ph.D.—“scientist, marine, explorer,” as his Weather Channel gig, “Commando Weather,” introduces him (“Hi! Dr. Marcus here!”). 
In those TV bits,part Survivorman, partJackass, Eriksen performs stunts, like covering himself with prognosticating crickets or being buried by an avalanche. This job is only slightly more ludicrous: cleaning up the sea.For the past decade, 47-year-old Eriksen has been an eco-stuntman, drifting on rafts across seas and down rivers, as well as a serious scientist, commissioning vessels and plying his plankton trawls, collecting data, and speaking to groups—including thousands of school kids—about the threat of plastic pollution in the sea. Thanks to environmental gadflies like Eriksen, and emotionally affecting documentaries about wildlife deaths resulting from plastic ingestion and entanglement, this is a well-known phenomenon—if still under-studied and vastly underestimated.
Eriksen’s job is to keep poking a sharp elbow and saying, No, really, listen! This shit could kill us all!For the quantities in play now beggar the human imagination. Dumped or accidentally spilled from ships, blown from landfills, washed down every river in the world, plastic trash has been amassing since World War II in floating dumps, some of which exceed millions of square miles. Round and round the all-too-durable plastic goes, imponderable quantities caught up in the great oceanic gyres. These “garbage patches,” as they are called, are out of sight and out of mind, but not entirely inactive. Like all things the sea claims, plastic too suffers a sea change. And the ultimate harm our throw-away effluvia might yet do, to the health of the sea and the human future, nobody knows for sure.That’s why we’re out here getting thrashed by a squall, as the rest of the crew of 11 sleep fitfully in their hammocks. The South Atlantic in particular is aqua incognita for marine pollution researchers.
Though Marcus has voyaged to four of the world’s five major gyres (the North Pacific, South Pacific, North Atlantic, and Indian Ocean), studying their respective garbage patches, this is his first trip to the South Atlantic. In fact no one has ever sailed here specifically to study this antipodal gyre’s burden of plastic trash. We don’t know if we’ll find a Poe-story horror-whirlpool of algae-slickened detritus or just bits and jots."

At least an awareness and a willingness to make a difference is being demonstrated actively here in UK North Atlantic waters where our fishermen are being pro-active in Fishing for Litter...