Friday, January 4, 2008

ummm.... disturbing?

A friend of mine just forwarded this article to me.  Wow.

  • A vast swath of the Pacific, twice the size of Texas, is full of a plastic stew that is entering the food chain.
  • By weight, this swath of sea contains six times as much plastic as it does plankton.
  • You could take your serum to a lab now, and they'd find at least 100 industrial chemicals that weren't around in 1950.
  • Most alarming, these chemicals may disrupt the endocrine system — the delicately balanced set of hormones and glands that affect virtually every organ and cell — by mimicking the female hormone estrogen.
  • We now know that BPA causes prostate cancer in mice and rats, and abnormalities in the prostate's stem cell, which is the cell implicated in human prostate cancer.
  • Only 3 to 5 percent of plastics are recycled in any way
  • It also doesn't help that fresh-made plastic is far cheaper.
  • Except for the small amount that's been incinerated — and it's a very small amount — every bit of plastic ever made still exists.
  • The material's molecular structure resists biodegradation. Instead, plastic crumbles into ever-tinier fragments as it's exposed to sunlight and the elements. And none of these untold gazillions of fragments is disappearing anytime soon: Even when plastic is broken down to a single molecule, it remains too tough for biodegradation.
  • In the face of public outrage over pictures of dolphins choking on "a family's trusted companion," the American Plastics Council takes a defensive stance, sounding not unlike the NRA: Plastics don't pollute, people do.
  • Oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer, Ph.D., an expert on marine debris, agrees. "If you could fast-forward 10,000 years and do an archaeological dig — you'd find a little line of plastic," he told The Seattle Times last April. "What happened to those people? Well, they ate their own plastic and disrupted their genetic structure and weren't able to reproduce. They didn't last very long because they killed themselves."
The North Pacific gyre is only one of five such high-pressure zones in the oceans. There are similar areas in the South Pacific, the North and South Atlantic, and the Indian Ocean. Each of these gyres has its own version of the Garbage Patch, as plastic gathers in the currents. Together, these areas cover 40 percent of the sea. That corresponds to a quarter of the earth's surface.  So 25 percent of our planet is a toilet that never flushes.

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