Garbage is a big problem around the world. Landfills are getting filled, and many are beginning to leak into household water supplies or infiltrate the air of the factories and houses which are built on them.
But the garbage is not just collecting in thousands of landfills. Swirling in the Pacific Ocean are two giant expanses of perhaps a quarter of a trillion pieces of plastic trash and other debris from our affluent life styles, about 40 pieces of plastic for every living person on the planet. These patches are mammoth, covering 1.4 million square kilometers of ocean surface. One is twice as big as the state of Texas.
It’s a huge problem and getting bigger every year.
Is anybody doing anything about it?
Next month Project Kaisel begins with a flotilla of vessels setting out from San Francisco to investigate the potential of cleaning up these disastrous sea-faring garbage tips. They hope to collect perhaps 40 tonnes of it to recycle as diesel fuel.
But this effort is a mere drop in the bucket. Plastic bags, packaging, furniture, toys, various utensils and attachments float together. Disbursing the garbage that’s already afloat could take centuries.
Clearly the flow of debris must also be stopped at source. Almost 85 million plastic bottles alone are discarded every three minutes in the world.
Do we as individuals and do our governments have the discipline and courage to prevent more plastic from being dumped into our oceans?