Hungry?Just under a month ago I bumped into the news of our plastic-infested oceans, and the Los Angeles Times article I quoted from had already been around a while. A more recent article—June 14, to be specific—from the Monterey County Weekly is even more troubling, because it not only expands on some of the material contained in the Times article, but adds current information that indicates a far worse situation than might have been imagined before.

According to the article, recent research finds that a whopping 90% of all floating marine debris is made of plastic. News from the Algalita Marine Research Foundation—and from other quarters as well—is disturbing, to say the least.

Algalita researchers have found that the amount of micro plastics in the Central North Pacific has tripled in the last decade. Their colleagues on the other side of the Pacific concluded that off the coast of Japan it has shot up by a factor of 10 every two to three years.

Near the beginning of the article is a reminder that you don't have to live near an ocean to be affected by this disaster. One effect in particular has nothing to do with geography, and everything to do with diet, especially if you happen to enjoy seafood.

Shrimp, jellyfish and small fish eat the particle-sized plastic debris that look a lot like plankton, and which, in some places, are three times more abundant than the real thing.

Let them eat plastic, indeed. It would be nice to think that, at some point in the future, this problem will be resolved. Unfortunately, this, too, may be nothing but wishful thinking. As the article points out, "most of it is so small and so abundant that it would be nearly impossible to filter out."

And now scientists are discovering the implications of one troubling attribute of petroleum-based plastic, known since its invention, but ignored under the assumption that technology would eventually resolve it: Every plastic product that has ever been manufactured still exists.

Mmmmmm . . . plastic. Let's eat!


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