Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Charles J. Moore, Algalita Marine Research and Education Institute: The world is awash in plastic. It's in our cars and our carpets, we wrap it around the food we eat and virtually every other product we consume; it has become a key lubricant of globalization -- but it's choking our future in ways that most of us are barely aware. Plastics of every description, from toothbrushes to tires to unidentifiable fragments too numerous to count floated past our marine research vessel Alguita for hundreds of miles without end. We even came upon a floating island bolstered by dozens of plastic buoys used in oyster aquaculture that had solid areas you could walk on.

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Plastics are now one of the most common pollutants of ocean waters worldwide. Pushed by winds, tides and currents, plastic particles form with other debris into large swirling glutinous accumulation zones, known to oceanographers as gyres, which comprise as much as 40 percent of the planet's ocean surface -- roughly 25 percent of the entire earth.

No scientist, environmentalist, entrepreneur, national or international government agency has yet been able to establish a comprehensive way of recycling the plastic trash that covers our land and inevitably blows and washes down to the sea. In a 2010 study I conducted of the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, we extrapolated that some 2.3 billion pieces of plastic -- from polystyrene foam to tiny fragments and pellets -- had flowed from Southern California's urban centers into its coastal waters in just three days of sampling.

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"But, in the end, the real challenge is to combat an economic model that thrives on wasteful products and packaging, and leaves the associated problem of clean-up costs. Changing the way we produce and consume plastics is a challenge greater than reining in our production of carbon dioxide.

Scientists in Britain and the Netherlands have proposed to cut plastic pollution by the institution of a "circular economy." The basic concept is that products must be designed with end-of-life recovery in mind. They propose a precycling premium to provide incentives to eliminate the possibility that a product will become waste.

In the United States, especially in California, the focus has been on so-called structural controls, such as covering gutters and catch basins with 5-millimeter screens. This has reduced the amount of debris flowing down rivers to the sea.

Activists around the world are lobbying for bans on the most polluting plastics -- the bottles, bags and containers that deliver food and drink. Many have been successful. In California, nearly 100 municipalities have passed ordinances banning throwaway plastic bags and the Senate is considering a statewide ban.

Until we shut off the flow of plastic to the sea, the newest global threat to our Anthropocene age will only get worse."

#1 | Posted by Corky at 2014-08-26 12:32 AM | Reply | Flag:

All ships should have to have a tally of plastic liquid bottles and the tally should be viewed everytime the come to port.

#2 | Posted by moneywar at 2014-08-26 03:00 AM | Reply | Flag:

Man will continue to pollute his mind, body, society, and world until Jesus comes. Heck, we've even polluted space.

#3 | Posted by DeadSpin at 2014-08-26 12:21 PM | Reply | Flag:

This is why we won't get rid of oil.

#4 | Posted by shirtsbyeric at 2014-08-26 01:12 PM | Reply | Flag:

What's the libertarian free market solution to pollution?

Anyone??

#5 | Posted by snoofy at 2014-08-26 03:33 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 1

What's the libertarian free market solution to pollution?

Anyone??

#5 | POSTED BY SNOOFY

BENGHAZI?

#6 | Posted by soulfly at 2014-08-26 04:01 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 1

What's the libertarian free market solution to pollution?

Anyone??

#5 | Posted by snoofy

What's even the REPUBLICAN solution?

They mention pollution...NEVER.

The oil industry's well funded propaganda to make voters doubt climate change has also made them not give a crap about ANY environmental issues, because to them protecting the planet has become a lefty conspiracy plot.

#7 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2014-08-26 04:44 PM | Reply | Flag:

Conservatives world wide, think this planet is their own personal garbage can. Words like pollution, environment never appear in the GOP-PeaParty platforms.

#8 | Posted by SammyAZ_RI at 2014-08-26 05:15 PM | Reply | Flag:

#8 Lot's of conservatives are environmentalists, especially farmers and rural folks. And many of them are conservative Democrats.

#9 | Posted by HeliumRat at 2014-08-26 07:18 PM | Reply | Flag:

#8 Lot's of conservatives are environmentalists, especially farmers and rural folks.
#9 | Posted by HeliumRat

Further proving that republicans only care about issues that affect themselves.

The only ones who care about climate change are the ones who are being directly hurt financially by it.

#10 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2014-08-26 07:20 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

WE could dramatically reduce the flow of plastic into the sea simply by outlawing throwaway plastic bottles and make all drinks come in deposit bottles the way it was when I was a kid.

#11 | Posted by danni at 2014-08-26 07:40 PM | Reply | Flag:

WE could dramatically reduce the flow of plastic into the sea simply by outlawing throwaway plastic bottles and make all drinks come in deposit bottles the way it was when I was a kid.

#11 | Posted by danni

We could. But we won't. Because our private campaign system means corporations won't allow anything to hurt their profits.

Step one to fix almost any problem in the US is public election funding.

Suddenly pollution, and countless other problems, will become much easier to address.

#12 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2014-08-26 07:43 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

"Step one to fix almost any problem in the US is public election funding."

Couldn't agree with you more. Now, I will remind everyone why it is so important to elect a Democrat to the WH in 2016 and not play ideological games to massage our egos....SC appointments which are really our only realistic hope of making changes to our election system. As you say, "our private campaign system means corporations won't allow anything to hurt their profits." and our SC holds the key to preventing any changes.

#13 | Posted by danni at 2014-08-26 07:50 PM | Reply | Flag:

Couldn't agree with you more. Now, I will remind everyone why it is so important to elect a Democrat to the WH in 2016 and not play ideological games to massage our egos....SC appointments which are really our only realistic hope of making changes to our election system. As you say, "our private campaign system means corporations won't allow anything to hurt their profits." and our SC holds the key to preventing any changes.

Posted by danni at 2014-08-26 07:50 PM | Reply

So you don't care what is best for America. All you care about is the letter behind their name?? Got it.

#14 | Posted by LarryMohr at 2014-08-26 07:59 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

All the water samples were found to contain derivatives of polystyrene, a common plastic used in disposable cutlery, Styrofoam, and DVD cases, among other things, said Saido, who presented the findings at a meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C., today.

Plastic, he said, should be considered a new source of chemical pollution in the ocean.

The toxic compounds the team found don't occur naturally in the ocean, and the researchers thought plastic was the culprit.

The scientists later simulated the decomposition of polystyrene in the sea and found that it degraded at temperatures of 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).

Left behind in the water were the same compounds detected in the ocean samples, such as styrene trimer, a polystyrene by-product, and bisphenol A, a chemical used in hard plastics such as reusable water bottles and the linings of aluminum cans.

Bisphenol A (BPA) has been shown to interfere with the reproductive systems of animals, while styrene monomer is a suspected carcinogen.

The pollutants are likely to be more concentrated in areas heavily littered with plastic debris, such as ocean vortices, which occur where currents meet.
news.nationalgeographic.com

#15 | Posted by northguy3 at 2014-08-26 09:11 PM | Reply | Flag:

Here is a synopsis of the behavioral loop described above:

Step 1. Individual and group behaviors are biased by the MPP to generate maximum power, which requires over-reproduction and/or over-consumption of natural resources (overshoot), whenever systemic constraints allow it. Individuals and families will form social groups to generate more power by degrading more energy. Differential power generation and accumulation result in a hierarchical group structure.

Step 2. Energy is always limited, so overshoot eventually leads to decreasing power available to the group, with lower-ranking members suffering first.

Step 3. Diminishing power availability creates divisive subgroups within the original group. Low-rank members will form subgroups and coalitions to demand a greater share of power from higher-ranking individuals, who will resist by forming their own coalitions to maintain power.

Step 4. Violent social strife eventually occurs among subgroups who demand a greater share of the remaining power.

Step 5. The weakest subgroups (high or low rank) are either forced to disperse to a new territory, are killed, enslaved, or imprisoned.

Step 6. Go back to step 1.

#16 | Posted by Shawn at 2014-08-26 09:41 PM | Reply | Flag:

"So you don't care what is best for America. All you care about is the letter behind their name?? Got it."

Pretend all you want Larry but it has been Republican appointees who approved things like Citizens United and appointees appointed by Democrats who were the minority opposition. Spin it any way you like, if you want to reform American democracy it sure as hell ain't going to be a Republican that will do it AND it sure as hell won't be Ralph Nader either. Go ahead, massage your ego and be "independent" but realize Sen. Bernie Sanders, also an Independent, agrees with me not you.

#17 | Posted by danni at 2014-08-26 09:50 PM | Reply | Flag: | Newsworthy 1

And Sharrod Brown.

#18 | Posted by danni at 2014-08-26 09:50 PM | Reply | Flag:

And Elizabeth Warren.

#19 | Posted by danni at 2014-08-26 09:50 PM | Reply | Flag:

And lots of other "liberals" who you actually support. Get a clue, parties elect Presidents, it matters which party elects the next President and don't say it doesn't without dealing with the votes of Sotomayor and Kagen. I post facts that you need to deal with within yourself.

#20 | Posted by danni at 2014-08-26 09:53 PM | Reply | Flag:

see 16. There is no difference between the parties. None.

#21 | Posted by Shawn at 2014-08-26 10:28 PM | Reply | Flag: | Funny: 1

"There is no difference between the parties"

Do you remember the ridicules levels of Francophobia the GOP produced starting in 2003?

Did you EVER see any other American parties' members engage in it?

#22 | Posted by Tor at 2014-08-26 10:33 PM | Reply | Flag:

"Irrelevant"?

Actually it's very telling about one party.

#24 | Posted by Tor at 2014-08-27 01:03 AM | Reply | Flag:

So is a dog and pony show; and just as irrelevant to the fact that that both parties obey the same oyabun.

#25 | Posted by Shawn at 2014-08-27 01:28 AM | Reply | Flag:

Yea you know why. The people that don't want us to use paper and glass pushed it on us and created this problem.

Paper which is renewable (trees are a crop and always grow back) and biodegradable should be used in place of plastic.

We should go back to using reusable glass bottles.

As long as we spread this myth that we should not use trees then we will have this problem.

#26 | Posted by tmaster at 2014-08-27 08:42 AM | Reply | Flag:

"Paper which is renewable (trees are a crop and always grow back) and biodegradable"

Biodegradable is great, but doesn't matter given the way we handle landfills. In order for a pile to rot, as any composter knows, you have to have movement within the pile and water passing through. I remember reading an article a few years back about this. In one landfill, they dug down through layers of garbage and found newspapers, entirely readable, from the 1920s or some such time. We are a consumption-driven society. We buy stuff we don't need, just 'cause it's cool or hip or new. Most of us do this, the vast majority. We need a cultural shift to solve these problems. And it requires more than hashtag (or anonymous-blog) activism.

#27 | Posted by pragmatist at 2014-08-27 11:22 AM | Reply | Flag:

Cheaper, Cleaner, and Safer: How Hydrogen Could Replace Oil

If scientists are able to successfully take the photosynthesis process and apply it to industrial biological systems, sunlight could be used to manufacture hydrogen, which could then be used as fuel.

Hydrogen is already used as a fuel in many instances, and if applied on a large scale, it could serve as a replacement for petroleum products -- all the while contributing no new carbon to the atmosphere.

Not only are the two main components required for photosynthesis available in wide abundance, but they are also cheap.

Read more: wallstcheatsheet.com

I would assume that a hydrogen based product would be easier to dispose of.

#28 | Posted by Corky at 2014-08-27 11:29 AM | Reply | Flag:

see 16. There is no difference between the parties. None.

#21 | Posted by Shawn

Tell that to the people who are alive today because obamacare enabled them to get the health insurance they couldn't get before.

Or better yet, tell it to the families of the people who are dead because they were kicked off their insurance pre-obamacare.

#29 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2014-08-27 02:43 PM | Reply | Flag:

We should go back to using reusable glass bottles.

As long as we spread this myth that we should not use trees then we will have this problem.

#26 | Posted by tmaster

Glass and paper were not abandoned because conservationists wanted to preserve trees. It was abandoned because plastic is cheaper and capitalists want to increase their profits at any and all costs. They don't give a crap about pollution unless you attach a financial penalty to it.

#30 | Posted by SpeakSoftly at 2014-08-27 02:45 PM | Reply | Flag:

"We should go back to using reusable glass bottles.
As long as we spread this myth that we should not use trees then we will have this problem.
#26 | Posted by tmaster "

Myth? Hardly. There wouldn't be billions of tons of plastic floating in the ocean if we were still paying a dime deposit on every 32 oz. Coke. A nickel on 16 oz. That was the deposit thirty years ago but if they were still the same amount we would, once again, have people actually going out an searching for empty bottles. If we updated the deposits we would have millions of people searching for empty bottles and we would be returning bottles to the stores every time we shopped.

#31 | Posted by danni at 2014-08-27 11:37 PM | Reply | Flag:

Do you not have deposits on plastic bottles?

#32 | Posted by REDIAL at 2014-08-27 11:40 PM | Reply | Flag:

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