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The Oceans' Plastic Pollution Problem Is Far Worse Than We Thought, and Here's Why

Hannah Hoag - TakePart
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December 18, 2014
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More than 5 trillion pieces of plastic are afloat in the world’s oceans, according to a new study recently published in the journal PLOS One.

Ranging in size from a grain of salt to larger than a plastic water bottle, the plastic pollution in the world’s oceans weighs more than 269,000 tons - far more than all the gold ever mined in the world and far more than scientists previously estimated.

Study author Marcus Eriksen and his team from the 5 Gyres Institute, based in Los Angeles, spent tens of thousands of hours scouring the world’s oceans for plastic between 2007 and 2012. They used trawling nets to scoop particles from the ocean surface and visually counted very large pieces. The study provides a snapshot of the magnitude of marine plastic pollution and its movement around the world’s oceans, said Eriksen.

The estimate is much higher than what previous studies found.

Marine ecologist Andrés Cózar, who teaches at the University of Cádiz in Spain, calculated that as much as 40,000 tons of plastic was dispersed in the surface waters of the open ocean. Cózar and his colleagues found that only 1 percent of the plastics they netted from the oceans were larger than 10 centimeters.

“If you separate out the larger pieces, we’re in the same ballpark,” said Eriksen, whose study included larger-sized plastic.

Read the rest at TakePart

Captain Charles Moore, who discovered and brought attention the the plastic gyre and author of "Plastic Ocean" discusses urban gardening, plastic and the plight of the oceans and ultimately our very civilization. (Michael Sosebee)

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  Check out Banderas Bay Initiative


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