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article imageOp-Ed: The Great Plastic Lakes? Plastic in the water by the ton

By Paul Wallis     Apr 10, 2013 in Environment
Sydney - The Great Great Lakes Garbage Patch, like its disgusting relatives in the Pacific and elsewhere, is underway. Rejoice, Americans and Canadians, now you’ve got something else to die of, literally and figuratively.
Science Daily:
Scientists reported on the latest findings from the Great Lakes in New Orleans on April 9 at the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS.)
"The massive production of plastic and inadequate disposal has made plastic debris an important and constant pollutant on beaches and in oceans around the world, and the Great Lakes are not an exception," said Lorena M. Rios Mendoza, Ph.D., who spoke on the topic at the meeting.
Great Lakes pollution is comprised of microscopic particles. These particles are likely to wind up as fish food. This is one form of pollution that will come to you, given a chance:
Fish, however, often mistake these bits of plastic for food. "The main problem with these plastic sizes is its accessibility to freshwater organisms that can be easily confused as natural food and the total surface area for adsorption of toxins and pseudo-estrogens increases significantly," Rios said. It is not yet understood whether these toxins enter the food chain in harmful amounts.
This enchanting phenomenon started in 1980, like the rest of the crash of Western civilization. Since 1980 plastic production has increased by 500%, and plastic now provides 80-90% of ocean pollution.
The trouble is that in the Great Lakes, pollution is “24 times” worse than in the South Atlantic. A closed system, of course, accumulates a bigger percentile of materials, faster. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is currently twice the size of Texas. (Any other similarities are purely cultural and not to be taken personally or politically.)
The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, interestingly, is another of those wonderful sources of outrage about which very little if anything has ever been done. There’s a Great Western Pacific Garbage Patch off Japan, and a Great Eastern Pacific Garbage Patch off the US/Canada west coast.
(The link leads to inspiring images of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Try to contain your orgasmic enthusiasm- At least better than the waste management system does.)
While researching this folksy phenomenon, I found this from livinggreenmag.com:
Because plastic pollution at sea cannot be cleaned up by any practical means, society must stop the problem at its source, the researchers stress. They advocate legislation requiring companies to take responsibility for recovery and reuse of their products, including economic incentives to promote recovery and bans on single-use disposable products. Responsible legislation will also create tremendous opportunity for smart, innovative alternative products.
“We can’t recycle our way out of this mess, nor can we clean up what’s already out there,” Eriksen says. “We’re not looking at an accumulation of large chunks of plastic but a thin, diffuse soup of micro-particles.”
Ahem.
This is no longer 1980. It's at least a few seconds later. There are ways of collecting micro-particles, (Membranes, filtration, etc. Yes, it costs money, but hell, you’d only spend it on living, anyway) and there’s no excuse for the junk to be in the ocean at all. It’s a hazard. It’s Good Slumkeeping gone nuts to leave it there.
With this unseemly haste to achieve nothing about the actual problem, (which from the sound of it will be there for all eternity because someone’s decided it’s impossible to fix), the prognosis for the Great Lakes isn’t good. The only option for keeping the Great Lakes in a viable state is actual hard work. Clean up the crap, get rid of the junk in the water, and slam some filters on those damn outlets.
Expecting too much? Expecting the impossible, more likely. Apparently, everyone’s quite happy to die of pollution and live in a hellhole rather than do anything about any kind of pollution. You get what you deserve.
So if your fish start smelling a bit strange, and the various toxic chemicals in the plastic start killing off everything around them, look on the bright side. You’re upholding the noble tradition of doing nothing about anything. It’s made the world what it is today.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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