October 31, 2007

Cleaning Up the Garbage Patch

Not that anyone should remember, but a few months ago I wrote a little post on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch—a big swirling gyre of trash and debris in the Pacific Ocean that's at least twice the size of Texas. Well, now it seems the U.S. government wants to clean it up. True, that might not even be possible—we're talking 3 million tons of plastic, most of it in chunks too small to scoop out—but that won't stop them from trying.

Interestingly, the guy who discovered the Garbage Patch, Charles Moore, thinks that cleanup is too crazy an idea, and all that effort would be better spent trying to reduce plastic production in the first place. (Fun fact: The United States produced 60 billion pounds of plastic resin in 1987; that's doubled to 120 billion pounds in 2007.) I'd agree with that. Of course, the American Chemistry Council thinks curbing production is a horrible idea, and we should mostly focus on putting recycling bins on beaches and cracking down on litterbugs. But what would you expect them to say?
-- Brad Plumer 6:02 PM || ||