October 22, 2013
The 8th Continent of the World
Born and raised in Los Angeles, my summer fun has mostly consisted of beach days. I can tell you first hand that the beach, in all its fun and beauty, is starting to become more and more hazardous and toxic.
As I lay on my towel, bathing in the glorious rays of sun, a plastic bag blows by and hits me in the face. I am able to pick it up and throw it into the closest trashcan, although it’s quite a walk. Unfortunately, there are many creatures, most, who don’t have opposable thumbs to remove the plastic can rings from their necks. We have a serious problem here on our majestic coastline.
With the millions of pounds of trash that floats in the Pacific Ocean, fish and other marine animals ingest an estimated 12,000 to 24,000 tons of plastic per year in the Pacific Ocean, according to research from the University of California San Diego Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Yes, that means that every year fish consume 48 million pounds of garbage. Institute researchers also collected 141 fishes of 27 species and found that 9.2 percent of the fish had small bits of plastic debris in their stomachs.
This isn’t even the biggest problem that the California garbage coast has caused. With the help of other Pacific countries and massive ships (a cruise ship can generate 210,000 gallons of waste a week, the EPA says) we have created a continent of trash in the middle of our beloved ocean called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. An estimated 3.5 million tons of trash reside in this landfill that are the result of whirling currents in the Pacific Ocean that pull trash and pollution into the ocean. The landfill’s area is the size of Europe, or 3.45 million kilometers squared -- that’s a lot of trash.
These numbers are staggering, yet they are nothing compared to the numbers we will see in the years to come if this abominable disregard for our environment...